*Job Seekers Prep Kit
Employers have changed the way
they find new employees, and as a
job seeker, it is important that you
understand these changes in order to
experience a successful search.
To give you a head start, use this
packet full of valuable tips and
guidelines to help you find the job
that is a great fit to you!
Part 1 – Preparing like a Champ
* Fine tune your resume
* Target your Search
Part 2 – Nailing the Screening Process
* A winning effort begins with
* The Phone Interview
* Dressing for Success
* Sample Questions
* Questions to Ask
* The Follow-up Letter
Tell your story
Make sure your resume is doing the job of showcasing your
skills and accomplishments. To start, spell out the details of a
work-related situation, any obstacle, the action you took to
resolve the issue, and the results of your actions. Write out the
complete story, and then whittle it down to a series of concise
descriptive bullet points. To aid this process, ask yourself the
following questions about each of your previous jobs:
What was your impact on your division, company, and group?
What would not have happened if you hadn’t been there?
What are you proudest of during your time with the
Use the keywords found in the job
description in your resume.
Each industry and career field has its own jargon, and you’ll
likely see these terms – or “keywords” – show up in job
postings. Be sure to include them exactly as they’re written
in your resume. If they’re abbreviated, do the same, and if
they’re written out in full, do so as well.
Also, while many keywords are industry specific, certain
phrases are important to almost all companies. For
example, these include problemsolving, teamwork, leadership, business development.
As important as keywords are for getting noticed, cluttering
up a resume with keywords, whether you have the skill sets
or not, also can backfire. This trick might get you noticed
initially by a computer scanning a resume database, but an
experienced recruiter will see through it.
Don’t be modest when describing your
Use specific numbers and timeframes to show ways you’ve
added value to a company in the past.
Think about your performance history, and apply numbers
where possible, using percentages, dollar signs and time
quantifiers. If you have increased profitability or decreased
costs, list these accomplishments. If you exceeded a
goal, note the original objective. If you didn’t hit your
target, don’t mention it, but use the number you did attain.
If your employer has recognized you with an award, cite it
on your resume. Give an indication of its criteria so
recruiters can see why you were selected. If you were
chosen to receive additional training or head special
projects, these can also be considered achievements, but
make sure any award you cite is based on merit.
Refer to past appraisals for specific ways
your previous boss and coworkers have
praised your work.
Dig through your old performance appraisals and take note of
what your supervisors praised you for. Reading some of the
strengths they identified may help you think about how you
used these to meet goals. Letters of recommendation and
company newsletters in which you were recognized by
management may serve the same purpose.
Targeting a job search typically starts with answering one or more of the following questions:
What locations am I willing to consider?
Is there a specific job function that interests me?
What type of company would I like to work for?
Once these questions are answered, you are now able to come up with a list of companies
(targets) to start applying in to.
Advantages to a Targeted Job Search
* It opens the hidden job market because you can explain what you're seeking.
* It gives you a field or industry, which helps you conduct better networking.
* It lets you choose the most helpful training to take while unemployed.
* Being focused on a target lets you streamline your search by using template
letters and only one resume.
Something where I can advance.
Something that makes use of my IT skills.
Anything that will pay my bills.
A job in a large corporation using my
A job in database management.
Anything that pays $35,000 or more and
uses my broad variety of skills.
An entry-level position in communications
at a large corporation.
A database management role in an IT
department with five or more people where
I can also work on team projects.
An office manager or operations role for a
company with 10-30 employees.
You've probably heard the phrase "It's not what you know, it's who you
know." In today's interconnected society, that rings true more than
ever. Your talents, abilities, and experience will never take you
anywhere if nobody knows you exist.
Break your stereotypes about networking
Networking can seem disingenuous, pompous, or even devious. When you're networking, you're going to have to sift
through the people you don't want to know to get to the people you do want to know. The good news is that with practice,
you'll get better at spotting the people worth knowing.
You might think you're too shy or self-conscious to put yourself out there. With the rise of social networking sites, you can
easily find others with similar interests, and worth knowing, without being in a room full of people.
Networking takes time and effort. Why bother? Ultimately, a network is an investment, with benefits that far outweigh the
costs. One way to think of it is to imagine how much time and frustration you would save if anything you wanted or needed
was just one or two phone calls away. You just need to stick with it and watch it grow.
Tips for getting started
START SMALL. A sustained effort over the long run is
better than burning yourself out over a major initial
push. Remember that networking requires
maintenance, so don't bite off more than you can chew.
LOOK APPROACHABLE AND BE CHARMING. Over
time, it will get easier for you to start a conversation
with a stranger.
THE INTERNET IS YOUR FRIEND. Use every tool
at your disposal to build your social network in real life.
Instant messaging, for instance, are sometimes better
than phone calls. The internet is very useful to meet
and keep contact with a very large group of people
Who does your network consist of?
Current and Former Co-Workers
Friends and Family
Former Professors and Instructors
Interviews can be tough – even for the seasoned veteran. The interview is, however, your best opportunity to gain
insight into the position and company, and to determine how your experience and talent can contribute to the
company’s growth and profitability.
In this booklet, we have included a list of things you can do to make your interview as successful as possible. No tricks
or gimmicks here – just good, solid information to help you prepare like a champ, and win that job!
Homework doesn’t stop after you graduate
Research the company you are applying for – its history, its current situation, and its future. Sources to use include:
* The internet
* Periodicals and trade journals
* Annual reports and 10K reports
* Friends and business associates
Have a thorough understanding of the position, its key duties and primary responsibilities, and what is expected. Be
prepared to ask good questions:
* Who has been successful and why?
* Who has failed and why?
* Who does the position report to?
Review your career history thoroughly:
* Review all dates, positions, duties, responsibilities, and accomplishments.
* Know your strengths and weaknesses
* Be prepared to cite specific examples of achievements and how these experiences can help the company solve
some of its problems
* Concentrate on your most recent positions, but don’t neglect your early career
* Reflect on your successes so you can adequately impart your strengths when given the chance. Remember, the
prospective employer will make his or her hiring decision based on these key factors:
• Attitude and business poise
• Image presentation and communication skills
• Experience and skill set
• Education and certifications
• Transferable industry and technical background
Selling yourself to a prospective employer in 45 minutes is enough to make anyone a bit nervous. There’s a simple way to
overcome nerves – just practice interviewing. Ask a spouse, a relative, a friend – anyone you trust – to conduct realistic
interviews and to provide constructive feedback.
Arrive early to the interview – we recommend you get there at least 15 minutes early.
Fill out all applications neatly and completely.
Be enthusiastic about the position and the company!
Ask good, specific questions – Respond positively to the interviewer’s questions whenever possible.
Sell your attitude during the interview. Ask for the position – be proactive at the end of the interview.
Confidence in yourself gains the confidence of others
When meeting with the interviewer, mirror their demeanor.
Do not answer questions with a simple “yes” or “no”. Sell yourself by using examples and paint a clear picture of
where, when, how, what, and why you did it.
Stress your achievements, records, and accomplishments.
Answer all questions clearly and succinctly. Do not ramble on. Role play some response before the interview.
Practice makes perfect!
Do not make derogatory remarks about previous or present employers.
Tell your possible employer what you are going to do for them, NOT what they can do for you.
Always present yourself honestly.
Your preparation will allow you to enter the interview relaxed and confident that you can fulfill the needs of the
BUT you are only halfway there. During the interview, you will be asked difficult questions. These questions are
designed to see how you will react under pressure and in unfamiliar territory. There are no “hard and fast” answers
to these questions. However, by being familiar with the types of questions you may be asked, you will give yourself
the opportunity to answer these questions comfortably and confidently. We have included a list of typical stress
questions and some examples of how they might be answered…
Phone interviews are frequently a first step in the interviewing process. In these times of corporate
frugality, companies often opt for an initial phone interview for the screening of potential candidates.
These phone conversations are normally your first contact with a company, and therefore your first
impression. Make your impact a strong one!
Treat the phone interview just as you would a personal, face-to-face interview. Just because it is
over the phone does not mean that you should take it lightly.
Make sure the phone you plan to use for the call is of high quality. Avoid using cellular phones.
If you have an answering machine/voice mail, please make sure your recording is both courteous
Make sure family members know how to answer the phone and take messages in your absence. Keep
a notepad by the phone for messages and reinforce how important their cooperation is to your
Be aware of any potential distractions. Plan to sit in a quiet room or area where you can speak and
think in a productive manner.
If you have the “call waiting” feature on your phone, it is best not to interrupt your conversation to
answer a call.
If you have a bad connection and/or have difficulty hearing the other person, offer to call them
Be fully prepared with your notes in regards to: 1) the company, 2) the position, 3) yourself
(resume). You will come across as an organized and articulate interviewee.
Again, do not take this step in the interview process lightly. This is a great opportunity to sell yourself
and to find out more about the position.
Last, but certainly not least, the phone interview is the opportune time to set up your face-to-face
meeting. Don’t be afraid to ask for the appointment! Have your calendar at hand so you may suggest
dates that would be convenient to interview.
Make it your business to understand the culture of the company you are interviewing with to ensure you
make the most appropriate decision. Generally speaking, the following is a good guide for the
* A conservative suit in dark blue or dark gray with a long-sleeved white shirt. The tie should be
conservative, but stylish. Dark socks (over-the-calf) with dark, freshly shined shoes.
* Jewelry should be limited to no more than a wristwatch and wedding ring.
* Fingernails should be cleaned and trimmed.
* Facial hair should be clean-shaven
* A business suit in a subdued color is best for first interviews. Dress in today’s styles, but keep the
hemline close to knee-length and keep blouses professional.
* Hosiery should be worn at all times, regardless of weather conditions. Shoe heel height should be
moderate and comfortable – shoes should be freshly polished.
* A conservative dress or suit is fine for additional interviews.
* Jewelry should be minimal and in good taste.
* Nails should be well manicured and polished in clear or light, conservative colors. If long nails are a
part of a personal fashion statement, avoid bright colors and glittered accents for interviewing.
* Hairstyles will vary with each individual but basic rule of thumb is to keep it neat and professional.
* Makeup should be tastefully applied.
Be prepared…the following is a list of typical questions:
What are your short-term objectives? Long-term objectives?
How long would it take you to make a contribution to this
How are you best managed?
What is your biggest strength? Weakness?
What is the difference between a good position and an
Why did you choose to interview with my organization?
If you could start again, what would you do differently?
What can you do for us that someone else cannot do?
What was the most difficult ethical decision you ever had to
What new goals or objectives have you established recently?
Would you describe a few situations in which your work was
What are the most important rewards you expect in your career?
What qualifications do you have that make you think you will be
successful in this business?
Do you work well under pressure, deadlines etc?
As indicated earlier, there are no “hard and fast” answers to these questions.
Review the questions and your responses. While some of the questions seem difficult, the keys to
answering effectively are to be direct, truthful, positive, and succinct!
An interview involves an exchange of information. Here are some questions you can ask that will help you learn more about
the position and the company, and help you better gauge the interest and objectives of the interviewer:
If you are interested in the position, ask for it, or ask for the
next interview. If you want this job, you may want to say this:
“I am very interested in your company. I am confident that I
can do an excellent job for you. What is the next step in your
Who are your major competitors and how do they stack up
against you in terms of product, market share, methods of
marketing, strengths and weaknesses?
Tell about the history/growth of the company.
In the recent history of the company, what has been the
biggest advance and what has been the biggest setback?
What is your highest priority in the next six months and how
could someone like me help?
If I were to ask your top person what he/she likes most/least
about the company, what type of response would I get?
How do I compare with other qualified applicants?
Do you have any hesitations about me being successful with
What does your interview process entail?
When may I return and meet some of the people with whom I
would be working?
Where do you see your company going in the next several
What are three main qualities you are looking for in a
Tell be about a typical day.
How do you see me fitting in with your company?
Tell about your training program.
What are the characteristics of your top people?
Closing the Interview:
If the interviewer has failed to elicit some important information about you, make that
information known before you leave. Lastly, always find out what the next steps will be
and when they are likely to occur.
Sample Follow up Letter
The interview is over, you did great, and now you can
relax, right? Absolutely false. You must continue to sell
yourself by following up and reinforcing your qualifications.
Effective follow-up gives you a chance to say things you
have forgotten to say in the interview, or to correct things
you wish you had said differently. More importantly, it
distinguishes you from other candidates. All too many
people do not follow up. This is your chance to stand out.
Send the follow up letter as soon as possible. This
allows you to convey a sense of urgency and a high
interest level in the opportunity. Ideally, your letter
should go out the next day.
Be as brief as possible. It shows respect to others’
The body of the letter should address four main points:
• Thank them for their time.
• Express interest and enthusiasm in the company
• Using the manager’s own words from the
interview, highlight your experiences and
accomplishments that amplify your
• Ask for the next interview.
If emailing is necessary, always try to send as an
attachment in an MS Word document.
Mr. John Smith
1234 South Street
Anywhere, XX 12345
Dear Mr. Smith:
I appreciate the time spent with you discussing XYZ
Company and the ______ position. It was my pleasure
meeting with you, _____, and ______. I feel my
qualifications and skill set in ______, ______, and _______
reflect those necessary to be successful at XYZ Company.
At ABC Corporation, I successful installed a state-of-the-art
_____ system on-time and under-budget, as well as
managed a staff of up to fifteen professionals and clerks. I
am confident that I have the experience and drive to
successfully manage the ______ Department.
I feel an even greater excitement level about the
opportunity because it will allow me to attain my goals of
______, ______, and ______.
I look forward to our next meeting to discuss this in greater