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Job Interview Etiquette
Are you or your spouse out of work and looking? If so, use these surefire tips to prepare and land the job you’re after.
Many people have recently found themselves in the position of looking for a new job. The following are a few tips to assist you in your job search.
1. Don’t waste the interviewer’s time. Before sending your resume to a company, make sure you qualify and your skills are compatible with the job post.
2. Be prepared to answer three standard questions.
a. "Why did you leave your last job?" Avoid negative answers. An inappropriate response would be, "I couldn’t stand my boss and he was out to get me!" A better option would be, "I was in a position that had little room for growth and have always aspired to work for a larger company where my potential for advanced training could be realized."
b. "What is your greatest strength?" Your response to this question will give the interviewer a good indication as to your confidence level and whether you would be a good "fit" for their company. Be prepared for this answer by carefully reading and understanding the job post. Focus on your professional strengths—what you can bring to the company in terms of your particular skills.
c. "What is your greatest weakness?" Honesty with a twist is how you would take a negative and explain how you are working on turning it into a positive. Saying something like, "I have more ideas than hours of the day" or, "I am working on learning to delegate responsibility" are traits that show creativity and determination.
3. Know the interview basics. Bring your resume, a note pad and pen. Your resume should be specifically tailored to the particular job opening. The cover letter should include a specific name, "Dear Mr. Smith", not "Dear Sir/Ma’am" or, "To whom it may concern." Ask appropriate questions:
"What future career path does this position follow?"
"How many employees have been in this position and where are they now?"
"How does this position fit into the growth of the company?"
4. Confidently address any gaps in your resume. Address any gap by explaining what you did to enhance your job performance during your down time, such as "I have been taking night courses in business while looking for a job during the day. I have also been volunteering my time at a local non profit, offering my accounting experience in their finance department."
5. Be prepared to answer the question, "Why were you fired?" You will derail your chances of getting the job if you lie or blame your boss or your coworkers. Honesty is best. "I was admittedly not a fit for my last position. I can, however, confidently say that I learned a great deal while working there and feel certain that the experience I gained will benefit my next employer." Or, "My last position was in sales and my strength is balancing the books and crunching numbers. That is why I am interested in this position."
6. Be creative in your job search.
a. Don’t put your entire effort in internet searches—select an organization that you want to work for and get involved (intern or volunteer).
b. Offer to be a guest speaker (expert in your field) at different luncheons, giving tips.
c. Join a network that you are interested in pursuing.
d. Visit job fairs and your university career service office.
e. Be bold—ask for the opportunity without a monetary reward.
f. Find a mentor.
7. Make-up and good grooming is a must (i.e., no facial hair, visible tattoos, multiple earrings). Ask someone you trust to provide his or her honest opinion regarding your grooming and interview attire. Every detail counts when you are competing with several other people vying for the same position.
8. Follow up with a "thank you" note. Send out a "thank you" note the same day, reiterating your enthusiasm and interest in the job. Mention that you will follow up in a few days and look forward to being considered for the position. Check your spelling and grammar before mailing out the note.
9. Your job may only be a telephone call away. If you have not heard from the interviewer after a few days, don’t hesitate to call and say, "I am very interested in the position and wanted to follow up to see when a final decision will be made."
Good luck and happy job hunting.
Diane Gottsman, a nationally recognized etiquette expert, is the owner of The Protocol School of Texas, a company specializing in etiquette training for corporations, universities and individuals, striving to polish their interpersonal skills. You can reach Diane at 877-490-1077 or www.protocolschooloftexas.com. You can also follow her on Twitter @: www.twitter.com/DianeGottsman.
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