You’re on the job prowl and your competition has the same or similar qualifications and credentials as you…so how do you stand out? The ability to quickly market yourself to potential employers is key in today’s fast-paced lifestyle.
Can you sell yourself in less than two minutes?
The personal elevator pitch was so named because a successful pitch should never last longer than 60 seconds, the average length of an elevator ride in New York City. Elevators move fast and attention spans are short. So whether a meeting is planned or spontaneous, you need to be prepared to quickly and easily explain who you are and to capture their interest.
To make a great first impression in any professional setting, develop and practice your self-introduction.
- Have a clear message and goal. You do not need to share your life story, but highlight a few key milestones from your experience or work outcomes. While most people do not remember exact figures, statistics will make an impression.
- Focus on your audience. Be prepared to tailor your message to best suit the person/people you find yourself speaking with. Highlight your skills that best fit their industry – not necessarily your standard go-to milestones.
- Be sincere. You want to come across as naturally likeable, not creepy, desperate or unprepared.
- Smile. It makes a positive impression and will help you relax at the same time.
- Make direct eye contact and speak clearly. Showing your ability to stay cool under pressure goes a long way to proving you can handle that high stakes job you’re aiming for.
Making the most out of a short period of time could be all you need to gain a job lead. If your personal elevator pitch is successful, the person you are speaking with will be asking to exchange contact information in a matter of minutes.
Congratulations! Your next step is to follow up.
Stay tuned to the Millennium Search blog to learn how to follow up on a successful elevator pitch.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics announced in their March 2012 report that there are currently 5.3 million long-term unemployed people in the U.S. This figure is virtually unchanged from the previous month, meaning nearly 43% of the unemployed sector has been without a job for more than six months. That is a lot of competition when applying for a job.
To ensure that you make the cut, you need a carefully crafted resume, not one that ends up in the trash because of these six mistakes that are easy to make but imperative to avoid.
These scream inattention to detail. An employer doesn’t want someone who glosses over important details. If you can’t review your own resume for spelling errors and typos, how can they have confidence in your ability to intelligently represent the company in your reports, presentations and email communication?
The Never-Ending Story
Having a multi-paged resume is acceptable when you have lengthy job history that relates in each instance to the open position. However, you do not need to tell your life’s story within each job. Use a Twitter mindset to compress your most important qualities and contributions within your descriptions. A resume that looks like an essay is likely to be skipped rather than scanned.
Don’t make it a challenge for employers to determine your relevant experience. Customize your resume for each application to leave out unnecessary details that don’t highlight skills for the job at hand.
It looks pretentious rather than courteous to provide your references up-front. Employers treat references in a variety of ways. Let them dictate how many they would like and how and when they want them.
Self Centered Focus
One of the biggest resume mistakes is one that is filled with all of the things you’ve done and how awesome you are is not as helpful to an employer as one that tells how very specific abilities you possess can make them awesome.
Consider what your personal email address says about you before listing it in your contact information. It may be witty to your circle of friends, but a potential employer might not take [email protected] seriously. Set up a no-nonsense address focused on your name and use it for all job-seeking opportunities. It will also help keep responses to your applications from getting lost in the shuffle when they go to a dedicated address.
Finally, your resume will be reviewed many times by potential employers and executive search firms. Make yourself stand out.
What other resume mistakes could make or break the candidate? Share your examples, horror stories and pet peeves.
Pre-interview tips and behavior can actually set the stage for a positive or negative interview experience. Taking the time to think about how you will behave as you arrive at the location and wait for your interview is an important step in the overall interview process.
Before You Leave
Before you leave for an interview, make sure you have eaten sufficiently and are well hydrated. You will need to be able to concentrate during the interview, and proper nutrition is important. This is not the morning to skip breakfast or the day to skip lunch.
You know you need to arrive on time for the interview, but plan to arrive 10 to 15 minutes early. This gives you time to settle your mind, check your appearance, and get to know your environment. Rushing into an interview will leave you flustered and physically flushed.
While you wait for your interview, you will meet people who work in the company. For instance, you will likely greet a receptionist when you arrive at the location, and someone other than your interviewer may walk you back to the interview room. Always present a firm handshake and genuine smile, and strive to remember people’s names and thank them by name when you leave them. This will show the interviewer that you are attentive to detail and have the people-pleasing personality to thrive in the sales business.
When you face the walk from the waiting area to the interview room, engage the individual in small talk. You do not want an awkward silence, nor do you want to leave the burden of communication on the other individual. Comment on the view or the artwork at the office to initiate a conversation.
Calm Your Nerves
If you find yourself nervous about the interview, use the moments while you wait to practice deep breathing or positive thinking to calm your nerves. You would not have gotten this far in the process if you were not qualified for the position, so remind yourself of your past successes. You can also massage the pressure point in the middle of your hand, which promotes relaxation.
After a job interview, whether or not you feel it was successful, you must follow up after your job interview. This shows you have initiative and passion to do the job well. Failing to do in a timely and appropriate manner may mean losing the job to someone who takes the initiative.
Use Email, Not Snail Mail
In the past, etiquette professionals recommended a typed or even handwritten thank-you note sent through by mail after an interview. In most corporations, this is no longer what is expected. A professionally written email shows you are technologically savvy and also ensures your response is received promptly and not ousted by another interviewee.
Treat It Like a Proposal Letter
In your email letter, refer to the topics discussed in the interview and show the reader how you can help with those topics. If a particular challenge the company is facing came up during the interview, express your enthusiasm and expertise for helping them tackle that issue. If the company’s strengths were discussed, state how your strengths will help the company meets its goals.
When to Call
Sometimes you will hear back via email after your thank-you letter, especially if the company is interested. If you do not, a phone call can show you have the initiative and enthusiasm the company wants in a new hire. In the sales industry, you are expected to be aggressive, so you must take a more aggressive approach to follow up after your job interview. Working with a recruiter can help you determine when is the appropriate time to call a particular company.
At the end of your interview, craft a question that will give you a timeframe for an expected call back. Review your qualifications for the job and ask the interviewer when a decision will be made. If they give you a date, ask if you can call at that time. If you are not given a date, consider calling two or three days after you send the thank-you note.
When you call, thank the individual for the interview, express your interest in the job and ask if a decision has been made. If the answer is no, remind them of your qualifications, and ask about a new timeframe. Soon you will have your answer, and you will have shown that you were persistent enough to be a good candidate for the job.
Prepare for Your Face to Face Interview
Last month, we shared how to nail your next job interview. Well, great news! After careful screening, your dream employer has picked you for a face to face! Undoubtedly you’ve done a few victory laps and high-fived your dog. Then the fear sets in. How do you prepare for the big day?
Job interviews can be stressful, especially if you’re working full time. You may even have a family and we all have commitments. It’s hard to drop everything for “potential” career advancement. That being said, here are the:
Top 10 Tips to Prepare for Your Face to Face Interview:
- Verify the time, phone number and address if applicable. Map out the location if this is an in-person interview and be sure to plan for time of day, traffic, parking or any surprises that might come up.
- Print a few extra copies of your resume on professional paper and keep them handy in a portfolio with a copy of up to date reference letters. Keep your papers, keys and cell phone neatly organized in a portfolio. I love these portfolios from Jeff Handcraft on etsy.com: For Gentlemen, here is a much less feminine version from MontBlanc:
- Update your professional social media sites like LinkedIn, Branchout, Identified and any other sites that are searchable online. HR and internal sources may be scoping you before the big day and it’s best to appear streamlined and professional. Another tip for online professionalism: search engine spiders crawl content once every 30 days. Do a search of your name and remove any unwanted content. (If you have a personal Facebook account that is showing information you would not want to share with a recruiter, change your privacy settings.) 30 days later, you should be in the clear when you search your name.
- Practice your greetings and your tough Q/A in the mirror. Yes, seriously. (Preferably when nobody is looking.) It’s easy to pick up on emotion—even over the phone—and positive energy always takes the cake. Smile and remain upbeat and comfortable when answering any questions about gaps in your resume.
- Role-play the tough questions with a friend or family member ahead of time. If you’ve been laid off or there is a gap in your resume you should be prepared to answer with confidence and remain even-keeled. Your future employer may even try to lay some trick questions out for you. Hopefully you can focus on positive and creative ways you have made the most of this opportunity, like education or industry related volunteer work.
- NEVER EVER talk poorly about a previous boss or colleague. Never. Ever. It’s a smaller world than you think and you could be talking to your former boss’s neighbor’s uncle. Just please don’t do it.
- Research the company and industry trends. You definitely need to know the position you have applied for inside and out and be able to speak eloquently about your qualifications for the role, to prove yourself a viable candidate. In addition to this, you should be able to engage the interviewers in conversation about the industry, top trends and any relevant news if applicable.
- Create a problem that you are a solution to, i.e., problem-solve. For example, you’ve discovered your new company has recently taken an interest in non-profit and opened up a fund… highlight your volunteer time or your last company’s donations to ___ and how you participated by ___.
- I have a magnet on my fridge that my husband may tease me for, but I believe in it whole-heartedly: “Good Clothes Open All Doors.” Before you open your mouth, like it or not people are looking at you and when it comes to a job interview you need to look professional. Every businessman and woman should own at least one suit and coordinating shirt with appropriate shoes and a case or portfolio. After these purchases are made, simply keep them clean, pressed and ready to go. Take accessories into consideration during an interview like flashy watches, bangle bracelets or large earrings. Flashy accessories can pose a distraction while you are explaining your professional leaps and bounds.
- On the big day, remember to exercise professionalism from the time you enter the building until the time you exit. Greet the doorman/woman, hold doors open. Smile. Turn OFF your cell phone. Yes, even in the lobby. Chances are the Administrative Assistant is taking notes and his or her opinion may be the first one that management will consider.
Increase your worth to potential employers whether you are actively seeking a new position or are simply putting your name out there to see what may be available, there are steps you can take now to increase your worth in the eyes of potential new employers. These steps will prevent you from selling yourself short when the compensation offer or question is broached, ensuring you receive what your skills and expertise deserve.
Work With a Recruiter
The nation’s top corporations hire recruiters (like Millennium Search!) to find the best candidates in the industry. Working with a recruiter can instantly increase your worth in the eyes of a potential employer, because the employer knows when your information comes across the desk that you have been screened and specifically selected from an elite few. We also work closely with interested applicants in helping them negotiate their pay package once a company has expressed interest.
Showcase Skills with Stories
You have not gotten to this point in your career without many successes that capitalize on your skills. Make the most of this when talking with your recruiter or a potential employer. Use success stories to showcase your skills, rather than simply listing or stating them. Begin by outlining a challenge set before you, then tell how you used your skillset to approach the problem, and finally end with the benefit to your employer. Stories allow a potential employer to view their company as the beneficiary of your unique skillset.
Prepare In Advance To Negotiate
Have a compensation range in mind before you begin interviewing. If you know you are qualified for a position and have value to offer to the employer, you may feel the compensation package is not what you want. However, you must always look at the entire package, including the equity. A slightly smaller salary combined with better benefits and more equity in a promising company may be more valuable in the future. Again, this is where a recruiter can be invaluable in framing the negotiations.
Focus on Your Value to the Employer
As a recruiter, we work with candidates to help them present well at an interview. At your interview, be positive and confident. When asked why you want the position, focus on how you can help the company. Answer every question by showing how you will improve the company’s situation. By doing this, you will not only position yourself to win the role, but also to receive the highest possible compensation.