I asked a hiring manager for some tips about job applications, resumes, and the interview process. How can you stand out in the crowd? Thinking ahead and being prepared can make all the difference.
What do we need to know about resumes and job applications?
First impressions mean everything when going for a job interview. It starts with your resume and/or application. If your application is filled out in writing, always print neatly. Sign your application or resume in cursive. If your resume can fit on one page, that is ideal.
What If You Have No Job History?
If you have no job experience, a resume can still help you land the job. You can include your school, church and extracurricular activities like sports, clubs, and volunteering. These things can indicate you are a team player and can get along with others. You could also list a couple of teachers, your minister, the person you did babysitting or lawn work for, coaches etc, as references. Make sure you ask them first.
Check your Legal Paperwork
Whenever you apply for a job, make sure your state issued photo ID is current, and take it and your Social Security card or other applicable documents with you to satisfy the I-9/proof of Right to Work requirements. If you are not a citizen but have the right to work in the US, take your US government issued document with you.
Beware ‘Too Much Personality’ in your Email Address and Voicemail
You will likely be asked for your email address, and may be asked to send your information to potential employers via email. Make sure you email address is professional! (I once had a guy whose email was ‘goatbutt@_____dotcom.’ NOT good!) You may consider creating a new email address just for sending resumes and receiving emails from companies you apply to. It should contain your name, and typically you will be asked to add numbers. Make sure it is not something cutesy, no names of pop stars, rappers, your children’s names, pet’s names, etc. One example of what your email address might look like is ‘robertjones859@________.com’.
Make sure your voicemail is properly set up, with the greeting in your own voice if possible. Keep it brief, don’t use slang (‘Hey, yo, it’s B, Leave a message and ima holla back’…um, NO, and I have heard that kind of message). Speak clearly and brightly, state your name, and say that if the caller leaves a message, you will call them back ‘as soon as possible’. No music or other noise should be in your greeting message.
Do Your Due Diligence
Research the company before you go to your interview. Bring out one or two facts about the business during your interview. You could say something like, ‘_________ is one of our city’s best employers (if true), I am excited about the possibility of working with you’. Or, ‘this company has grown a lot over the past ____ years. Being on board in a growing company would be a great opportunity’. …or other pertinent comments of that sort. It shows the interviewer you have genuine interest in the company’s future as well as yours, and that you took the time to do research.
Think Long Term
Your first job won’t be your dream job, but keep in mind that those unglamorous first jobs for low pay can teach you a lot about customer service, dealing with coworkers, and work ethic, but they say a lot about you in your future applications. When an employer sees that you stuck with a job for a long time, especially if you were given promotions and pay raises, it means you’re reliable. That is solid gold to future hiring managers.
And you never know, even lowly grocery baggers have made their way up to district manager level because they showed initiative and didn’t fall into a ‘this is a nowhere job and doesn’t matter’ mindset. Take yourself and the job seriously, and others will too.
Next we’ll talk a more about the actual interview, like what to wear.