Tuesday, March 17, 2015

How To Land & Rock A Job Interview

Today I was extended a wonderful job offer by a respectable and well-known business in Central Florida, and I accepted a Copywriting position within their new digital marketing division. In celebration of my new job, I'll be sharing my job search/interview advice to job seekers who are hoping to land a dream job of their own!

My knowledge of the job search process began early on, mostly through self-taught methods. I remember being in my early years of high school and already searching for internships in the journalism field. At the time, I didn't realize that most internships are offered for college students only. I was heartbroken and vowed to apply as soon as I was eligible. And I did. And I landed my dream internship while attending state college. (That was awesome!)

I can't pinpoint exactly how I picked up so many job search/interviewing tips & tricks, other than by conducting my own research and information gathering, but I have acquired enough knowledge to land a respectable amount of successful interviews, some of which were for high-profile companies I never imagined would give me a shot. Here's how you can do it and how you can rock your interviews:

Perfect your documents. Your "documents" (resume, cover letter, portfolio, work samples, etc.) are essentially the first impression your potential employer will have of you. It is important to make certain that these documents are not only well prepared, but well edited and updated when conducting your job search.

  • Resume. There are tons of online resources that explain in great detail how to perfect your resume. A simple Google search should provide you with various sample resumes catered to each field of work. If you're in doubt of how yours should be set up, I advise you to conduct your own research. Generally, resumes should be limited to one single page, typed in a non-decorative, easily legible font and size. The traditional resume style does not always apply to creative fields, though. For example, graphic designers have resumes that reflect their profession. Find out what's best for your field of interest and make sure yours stacks up with the competition. 
  • Cover Letter. Your cover letter is your first chance to introduce yourself and your accomplishments more in-depth. If there was a project you worked on, or goal you set and achieved, that are relevant to your skill-set, but not relevant enough to be included on your resume, your cover letter is where you would include it. Be brief and professional, limiting your cover letter to relevant accomplishments. This is not the place for you to explain your entire life history, but rather a synopsis of what you can bring to the table. Remember, if you're applying for various positions, every company and job title should receive a different cover letter. This sounds tedious, but it's important. For example, if you're applying to become a receptionist, your cover letter should highlight your experience in the administrative field and your applicable skills. 
  • Portfolio & Samples. Your portfolio and relevant samples should be tangible examples of the work you have done or plan to do. For those who have experience, examples from past employers and projects would apply, but for those who are entry-level, a portfolio may be more of a look at what they CAN and WILL BE able to do. Unless the company asks for professional samples only, don't hesitate to put together your best work from your college or internship experiences. It will show that, even though you don't have paid experience, you have concrete knowledge of what it takes to get the job done.
Brand yourself. Branding yourself, especially in this day and age, is vital to your job search. By branding yourself, you are basically selling yourself to the employer-- even if they aren't necessarily looking. With social media being so prominent, it's key to maintain a respectable online reputation. It seems unfair to not be able to let loose within your own social media space, but there's a time and place for your party photos, and online is not it. (Remember how pictures were actually printed back in the day? Yeah, try that. Keep an album. So vintage.)

Make sure that your online branding is consistent. Consider creating a tagline for yourself and putting that tagline on all your social media profiles. Start a website for yourself that your employers could easily access as an overview of who you are and what you can offer them. For additional tips, click here.

Know where to look. Most job seekers have a difficult time discovering where to look for jobs. Luckily, the internet is a vast world, so the opportunities are endless. Job search sites, like Indeed, Monster, CareerBuilder, Linkedin, and even Craigslist, are great sources for job postings. Even social platforms, like Twitter and Facebook offer groups and hashtags for places that are hiring. The most valuable place to look for a job, though, is all around you. Networking is a powerful key to success, and many job seekers are hired through a recommendation. So, talk to family, friends, neighbors, maybe even the person next to you at the gym! Never underestimate the power of networking.


Do your research. One of the biggest mistakes a potential employee can make is failing to research the company they are interviewing with. Before your interview, take time to educate yourself on the company by scouring their website and studying their history and core beliefs. Evaluate the position you're interviewing for and make a note of any applicable skills that you possess in relation to that title.

Answer questions properly. There isn't always a "right" way to answer an interview question, but there are definitely ideal ways that can put you ahead of your competition. Take some time to learn and study the most commonly asked interview questions, and practice your potential answers accordingly. Do not rehearse your answers to the point that they sound scripted, but definitely come prepared.

Make a lasting impression. As a job seeker, it is your goal to ensure that the interviewer remembers you when selecting their final candidates for the open position. One way to do this is through your body language. Give your interviewer a firm handshake upon first meeting them, and wait for them to take a seat before taking yours. Follow this up by maintaining continuous, but comfortable eye contact with the interviewer throughout your meeting. This, along with a polite smile and positive energy, displays confidence that is helpful in winning your interviewer over. Lastly, always be sure to follow up. The most common and respectful way to do this is not to call, but to send the interviewer a Thank You note a few hours to a few days after your interview. My personal favorite method is a hand-written (or typed if your handwriting is not neat), properly addressed and snail-mail delivered Thank You card. You might think that a Thank You note could be seen as brown-nosing, but Thank You notes are actually the norm, and most often expected, by employers. I can remember standing out on several occasions for my personal Thank You cards, even years after meeting with the employer! It's a small effort that can go a long way. If you take this advice, make sure to follow these tips.

Never give up. My last and most favorite tip for job searching/interviewing is to NEVER GIVE UP. The road may be a long and treacherous one, but in the end, it is worth it. Keep yourself motivated with positive reminders, like quotes and affirmations, and a strong support system. You may not land the job you thought you wanted, and you may shed a few tears at the frustration of the process, but eventually, you will get hired for the job that was meant for you. Keep an open mind and a positive spirit-- your dream job is right around the corner! 

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