Create a Killer Resume and Cover Letter

Ace the Interview: Essential Tips for Success

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When I finished the interview I smiled, thanked them for their time, shook their hands, and walked out confident that I had landed the job. I immediately emailed each of the committee members. I sent a text to one of my mentors in which I told him, “No one today could have done a better interview than me.”

This wasn’t ego-talking. I had prepared well and I felt the flow of the moment. A few weeks later I got the call for the second interview and ultimately the job offer, which I accepted.

Resume writing, getting the interview, and the interview itself are – like many things in life – both an art and a science. The following are a few thoughts on the topic of getting the interview that you can add to the monumental amount of information on the topic.

Tips for Success

  • Research the Company: Thoroughly research the company’s mission, values, and recent achievements. Understanding the company culture and business goals shows your genuine interest and preparedness.
  • Dress Appropriately: Dress for success by choosing attire that aligns with the company’s dress code. A well-groomed, professional appearance makes a strong first impression.
  • Practice Common Questions: Prepare for common interview questions related to your experience, strengths, weaknesses, and career goals. Articulate your answers clearly and confidently.
  • Prepare Your Own Questions: Have a list of insightful questions to ask the interviewer. This demonstrates your engagement and desire to learn more about the role and the company.
  • Use the STAR Method: Employ the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) method to structure responses to behavioral questions, showcasing your problem-solving and decision-making skills.
  • Show Enthusiasm: Express enthusiasm for the role and the company. Your passion and eagerness to contribute can set you apart from other candidates.
  • Highlight Relevant Skills: Emphasize skills and experiences directly relevant to the job. Tailor your examples to show how you can meet the specific needs of the position.
  • Body Language Matters: Maintain good posture, make eye contact, and use positive body language. These non-verbal cues reinforce your confidence and engagement during the interview.
  • Follow Up After the Interview: Send a thank-you email within 24 hours, reiterating your interest and summarizing how your skills align with the job. This shows professionalism and courtesy.
  • Handle Salary Questions Tactfully: If salary comes up, be prepared to discuss it, but try to let the employer bring it up first. Research industry standards to ensure your expectations are realistic.

The 5 Sentence Cover Letter

I’ve read that you should not even include a cover letter these days, but I still believe in them. The cover letter is an opportunity to show off your professionalism through writing and organization. This can blow up in your face if you make grammatical and format errors, so always have a proofreader (more than one is better).

The best approach to the cover letter is brevity. It should be no more than five sentences.

I like to begin a cover letter by valuing the reviewer’s time by stating, “I know your time is valuable so I will keep this brief.” This speaks directly to the reviewer instead of the generic, “Here are my qualifications, education, and experience,” or, “I saw your ad for the position.”

In another concise sentence, highlight the most valuable aspects of your education and experience. I then like to address my fit within the organizational needs of the position.

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Lastly, ask for the interview (closing the deal) in order to be given the opportunity to expand upon how you can benefit the organization, followed by a courteous and classy closing remark.

That is it: simple, concise, powerful, and to the point.

The Killer Resume

There was a leader who was about to leave an organization I worked for to assume the role of president of another organization. I invited him to lunch before he left to just be able to pick his brain. The best piece of advice he shared with me that day was to develop my resume every year.

We live in an instant gratification culture. As Veruca Salt of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory said it, “I want it now.”

However, building a killer content-filled resume does not happen overnight. Anyone can have a degree – which is the fundamental building block of a resume – and work experience. You need to add more headers and content. Think about the following topics: volunteer work, non-profit work, publications (professional blogging, articles, work-related publications, etc.), presentations, activities, memberships, teaching/training experience, certifications, committees, professional development, areas of expertise, and references. There are more, but you get the idea.

I also recommend collecting other peoples’ resumes and borrowing ideas on how to strengthen your own. But, and it’s sad I have to write this, keep it honest. Lying on your resume is not a good idea.

Begin thinking about where you are now, where you want to be, and what your resume needs to look like to get there.

Interview Success: 7 Must-Read Books

Ace your next interview. Read on for some of the best job interview books that will help you ace your next interview.

Ace Your Interview
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