What an amazing opportunity it was to attend the Find & Follow Your Passion, a full day career conference held at New York University on Saturday, April 26th 2014. There were a variety of great panel discussions from various business experts and professionals from social media to finance sharing advice on how to do what you love. In one of job search centric sessions three leading NYC hiring pros shared their tips on what today’s recruiters and managers seek in an applicant and how to nail the interview and land the job.
The session Job Application: Tips from the Pros Who’s Hiring led by moderator Janel Abrahami, Professional Development Mentor at NYU’s Wassmerman Center, featured panelist Michelle Corbet, Talent Development Recruiter at L’Oreal, Talent Acquisition Manager Ralph Nader, from Viacom, and Amber Greviskes, SVP of Solutions with Qnary. They covered everything from how to tailor your resume to fit your audience, their thoughts on using social media sites to create a strong digital presence and network with professionals and companies, and how to answer interview questions in a way that will get you the job.
Writing The Resume and Cover Letter
It’s essential for applying to a job and we’ve all spent hours writing and editing our resumes, but are we including what’s necessary. We’ve all pondered if the objective, hobby, and interest section are necessary? Michelle says,” it depends on your audience.” Applicants should tailor their objective to the job they’re applying for. Knowing you audience is key, so do not use generic objectives. Ralph stated, “Use the objective for what you want.” Applicants want to use the objective to communicate to an employer a clear picture of the type of employment they’re seeking. For example don’t use the objective to say I’m seeking full time entry level employment with a marketing firm. A good example of a specific objective would be ” I’m seeking a search engine optimization position where I can use my SEO skills and experience to increase site traffic and search engine placement”.
When it comes to actually listing work experience Amber and Ralph said “telling the employer what you can do for their company and how you can solve problems” is important. You want to not just list the responsibilities or tasks that were required of you in the position but list accomplishments. Show how you developed growth, increased revenue, page views, or sales. Think you you don’t possess the accomplishments that are as appealing as increasing a company’s revenue? Michelle shared simply listing how you managed an excel file of data on your own or organized a product closet in a way that was more efficient is even worth noting.
The panelist also shared that if you haven’t had much work experience in a specific area use the interest and hobbies section to show that you do have exposure in the area. Ralph shared for entry level positions at Viacom, they do not expect you to have 15 years of experience. They simply want to know you have some exposure to what can solve their needs. Do you list relevant internships and academic projects as companies specifically seek out applicants that have completed internships either with or not with their company. Michelle shared at L’Oreal they specifically seek out internal applicants that have completed their Rotational Programs before looking externally
If you’re lost on how to tailor your resume; start with the job description. Ralph said it’s important to use the company’s job description as a guide and for him you should focus 99% of your time on the resume, considering cover letters are sometimes skipped to move through the process quickly. Companies use job descriptions to convey their business needs and the ideal candidate that could help solve them. So use it as a guide to help you list key points that are properly aligned with the job description. The panelist also shared another good place to show off skills is in your cover letter. In a cover letter you want to share a compelling story about and give detailed examples of skills. Don’t use generic templates or use phrases such as “your company”, “this position”. Include the company’s name and exact job title. Also, address the letter to the specific hiring manager for the position if you can. The cover letter is another chance to demonstrate how you are exactly the right fit for the company.
Common Resume and Cover Letter Mistakes
The panel shared common resume and cover letter mistakes that can turn a hiring manager off such as the aforementioned being generic when writing a cover letter, misspelled words on your resume or cover letter, and not following the job application instructions such as including writing samples when asked, including a cover letter, or links to work online. Also, clear your voicemail, and update your email address. Amber shared, not following instructions now is a huge red flag and sends the message “If you can’t do this now, how can you perform on the job”.
Using Social Media: Job Searching and Your Digital Presence
Besides working on your resume you have to do your research before applying for a job and interviewing as well as be mindful of your digital presence. One of the social media platforms the panel strongly suggests you use in your job search is LinkedIn. It’s a very useful tool that is used strictly for connecting with other professionals so use it to help you get connected with someone from the company you wish to work for. Ralph said, “LinkedIn can be your best friend if you know how to stalk people”. Don’t just blast your resume out to multiple companies but be specific and research the company you’re interested so you know the keywords the company uses and appropriately incorporate the jargon into your resume. Amber also suggested you call around or search for someone that works for the company to learn about company before going in for an interview. Also update you LinkedIn to reflect the work you’ve done. Include school projects, freelance work, blogging work, and other work that relevant to your job search.
The panel also shared their thoughts about job seekers connecting with them on social sites. Michelle stated, ” social media is social for a reason”. She definitely doesn’t mind being sought out and connecting as you never know who you’ll need to be connected with. For Ralph, connecting via social media is appropriate but with a caveat, be specific. He stressed it’s important to reach out with a purpose. Do not reach out to someone to simply meet but be specific and say what you want. Share with the professional you’re connecting with that you’d like to speak with them about a position you saw posted or to learn more about the work they’re doing.
Before reaching out to anyone, you want to be mindful of your digital presence. Take some time to search for your name in Google and what comes up? You want to make sure the information that is displayed is a great reflection of you and your skills. As, Amber puts it, if you couldn’t show your grandmother then you don’t want to display that kind of reputation online.
You’ve made it passed the pool of applicants to be selected among and even smaller group to interview stage. You’ve written an awesome resume, a stunning cover letter, and passed the phone screening. So what can you do to prepare for the interview. As each of the panelist reiterated throughout the session “Know Your Audience”. Do your homework and research as much information about the company that you can. Research the products or services the company specializes in, location of the company, who are the key players at the firm, and their competitors. Come to the interview prepared with questions to ask the employers. Having questions shows you’re interested in learning more about the role and the company.
Ralph shared, “Be careful of over preparing”. Over preparing can lead you into robot mode in which you’ll ask questions the same way and it becomes tiring to your interviewer. Ralph gave this example, an interviewer is going into detail about a role and sharing more than what you knew before an interview. Because you’re on auto pilot, you go back to the 10 questions you prepared to ask beforehand although it’s unrelated to the topic you’re currently discussing. Michelle shared, you want to answer questions “that true to yourself”. Don’t answer questions based on what you think the company wants to hear. Employers can detect you’re not being authentic and that could hinder your chances of getting the job.
Amber also suggests, to help you mentally prepare for the interview, get your game face ready on the subway, once you get into the proximity of your interview location treat everyone as if they are possibly employees of the company you’re interviewing for. Be nice to the secretary and assistants on the way in as hiring manager sometimes ask how a candidate interacted with them before they made it to the hiring manager. Moreover, Michelle shared if you believe you didn’t nail a question or you missing sharing something as much in the interview use the follow-up email as way to do so and show you’re knowledgeable.
Additional points made before the session ended and will be helpful to job seekers is that companies want to hire you, if you’re picked to interview. Questions asked during the interview are not questions to trick you but simply human filters to see if you’re a good fit. Be hungry to learn without trying to get ahead so quickly and be sure you fit the culture you’re interviewing for. No matter where you are in the job search these tips are helpful reminders. Remember Know Your Audience and Be Authentic. Are you writing stellar resumes or monitoring your digital presence and using your LinkedIn account to get connected? Best of luck on your job search.
Thank you to Amber, Michelle, and Ralph for sharing amazing application tips. Be sure to check out the other great articles from Find & Follow Your Passion and Follow FindSpark on Twitter to stay up to date on more events.