Career Advice

GET ME IN THE DOOR

How to write a cover letter:

The purpose of a cover letter is to advertise your strengths for the employer to convince him/her to look at your resume. In the cover letter you should be prepared to explain why you are sending the resume, as well as how you learned about the company and position. You should also make sure to word it in a way that highlights your personality, attitude, enthusiasm and communication skills.

  • Opening paragraph: why are you applying, how you heard about the position and organization and general information on yourself
  • Main body: In this section you will discuss why you are interested in the position, how the position and/or company relates to your background and skill set as well as mention any enclosures you are attaching. Be sure to discuss qualifications that make you a good fit for employer's needs.
  • Closing Paragraph: indicate interest in interviewing for the position either via phone or in person. Offer to provide any additional information the employer may need.
  • Thank You: Thank employer for his/her consideration.

Tips on writing a good resume:

When looking for a new role, your resume is critical. Oftentimes, there are many eyes that view your resume before potential for an interview is determined. No matter how great your skills and personality is, remember that the resume is their first impression of you. Make sure it reflects you and is presentable, professional and leaves something to be desired.

  • Keep a 'Master Resume' and portfolio: This will include all of your information; jobs, experiences, skills, education, etc.
  • Tailor your resume to the job that you are applying
  • Remove items from Master that are not relevant
  • Think about your resume from the employers perspective: this includes making sure the resume is formatted, worded properly, and emphasizes key words that the employer may be looking for (these key words can be found in the job description)
  • Personal Information: At the very top of your resume, you should have your name, address, phone number, email address and LinkedIn profile address.
  • Education: Kicking off your resume should be your education. This includes where you attended school, completion of degree, year of completion. You can also include any extra certifications or classes you took to further your education and knowledge.
  • Work Experiences: Your resume should be formatted in chronological order listing your job experiences starting with the most recently held position.Listed under each job should be the dates you held the position, the title of the position help, location of the position, and MOST IMPORTANTLY, a BULLETED list of your duties and responsibilities in this role.
  • Qualifications and Skills: This section includes all traits that make you qualified for the role you are applying. For example: 'works part of a team environment as well as independently'. In addition to this, you should list all software programs you know and have had exposure to.
  • Last but not least!:
  • REFERENCES FURNISHED UPON REQUEST!!! This is the absolute last component of your resume. Omitting this shows the employer that you may have something to hide.

    I GOT THE INTERVIEW!! NOW WHAT!?

    Interviewing can be a nerve-wracking experience, but it doesn't have to be! If you prepare properly, it will be much easier and you can learn a lot. Always remember that the interview is not just for the Client- it is also for you! You want to make sure it is the right opportunity for you as well, so don't hesitate to ask questions that will help get you the clarification you need to accept or decline a potential offer. Whether it is a contract role or a full time role, it is equally important that you understand the role, project and what is expected of you.

    Phone interviews are generally just a screen and will determine whether or not a face-to-face interview should take place. They are usually relatively short in duration, and is more a means for the interviewer to get a snapshot of your background. The phone interview can usually be described in 4 phases:

    Prep Phase, Information Gathering Phase, Persuasion Phase, and Close Phase.

    How do I structure my resume?

    Prep Phase
    Stand Up! Often when you stand up over the phone, you can hear more energy on the other end of the phone. Also, Smile! If you smile over the phone, you can also hear that on the other end!

    Be in a private place- noise can be very distracting both to you and the interviewer. It also makes sense to use a landline so that there are no connection issues.

    Make notes- any observations, questions, etc. This will help you reflect more on the role after and also can help you jog your memory again before a follow up interview.

    Information Gathering Phase:
    Participate in the interview- although you should let the interview 'dictate' the conversation, you should also be participatory in the process. But you must also LISTEN!

    • Don't read your resume, but know that everything on your resume will be Fair Game. Know your resume really well, so that you can talk about your experience without having to read off the paper.
    • Keep in mind that you want to link the role you are interviewing for with your own history.
    • Persuasion Phase:
      Avoid speaking of money, security, comfort and convenience – these are topics for you to discuss with your recruiter. Focus on the role at hand and not the other details.
    • No Bad Mouthing! No one wants to hear negative comments about your old or current employer! It is a turn off for any hiring manager.
    • Close Phase:
      Be a salesman- 'After speaking I would like to meet you to discuss this further- What is your schedule like?' Show them you are interested!

    Now, you have done a great phone interview and you have been asked to come in for a face to face!

    Preparing for the interview:

    Before you walk through those doors, you must do your homework! This is the most important and also the most missed piece of preparing for an interview.

    • Know who you are meeting with: Make sure you know who you are meeting with, the titles of the people you are meeting with, as well as the time and location. With social media at its highest, you have all of the resources at your fingertips to know the person you are meeting with before you walk through the door. Look at their LinkedIn profiles! Maybe you will have something in common with them!
    • Dress for success!: You always want to put your best foot forward. Even if it a more laid back environment, you still want to look sharp and professional.
    • Always arrive 15 minutes early! **See dress for success section for additional guidance**
    • Bring plenty of copies of your resume in a folder

    During the interview:

    Prior to walking into the interview, make sure you prepare and ask intelligent questions! (again not about Money, Security, Comfort or Convenience). Here are some examples:

    • Why is the position open?
    • What are some short term problems for the position?
    • What are long term goals for the position?
    • What type of growth do you see in the future for this position? For the team/department/organization in general?
    • Time frame to fill the position?
    • Next steps in the interview process?
    • Make Eye contact and Mimic the interviewers' poise! You want to be animated, alert and have good posture- you don't want to be too relaxed or too aggressive- go for the middle ground.
    • No Bashing!: Again, Hiring Manager's do not want to hear negativity about your current or former employer.

    Here are some typical questions a manager may ask you:

    • What are you looking for in a position?
    • Accomplishments?
    • Why are you qualified?- Relate to background
    • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
    • Why did you leave your last job?

    Closing the interview: This is your final time to leave a lasting impression! Make it count!

    • If interested, let the interviewer know
    • Don't act discouraged if they don't hire you on the spot. The interviewer will most likely meet with other members of the team to get everyone's feedback before making a decision
    • Take a business card
    • ALWAYS WRITE A THANK YOU EMAIL! Within this email, you should bring up highlights of the interview, express interest and thank the interviewer for their time. This will remind the interviewer of who you are, and show you are interested in the position.

    Always dress the best for the interview regardless of the dress code for the organization! You have once chance to make a positive impression and this is it!

    • Wear business attire
    • Avoid flashy colors, logos, and bold prints
    • Wear clothes that make you feel comfortable; not too tight, short or revealing

    Women:

    • Solid color/Conservative Suit
    • Matching blouse
    • Moderate heel height shoes
    • Limited jewellery
    • Neat and professional hairstyle
    • Tan or light hosiery
    • Sparse make-up and perfume
    • Manicured nails

    Men:

    • Solid color/Conservative suit
    • White long-sleeved shirt
    • Conservative tie
    • Dark socks, professional shoes
    • Very limited jewellery
    • Neat professional hairstyle
    • Not a lot of aftershave

    Interview Do's and Dont's:

    • Arrive 15 minutes early!
    • When filling out an application, fill it out neatly and completely. If there is an error, do not cross it out!
    • Always make good eye contact!
    • Listen to how they introduce themselves and call him/her accordingly by that name
    • Be energized and enthusiastic about the position and interview
    • Smile, shake hands firmly, and be excited to be there!
    • Do not sit first! Wait for the interviewer to sit before sitting
    • Sit upright and look alert and interested at all times
    • Be a good listener and communicator
    • Mirror the interviewer's leads
    • Make sure that you get your career highlights across in a factual and sincere manner
    • Conduct yourself as if you are determined to get the job
    • Answer questions truthfully and have confidence both visually and verbally
    • Do not over answer questions, but also, do not reply with a 'yes' or 'no'.
    • Do not rely on your application or resume to do the selling for you
    • Don't smoke right before the interview
    • Do not chew gum during the interview
    • Do not discuss salary, vacation and benefits package, on the initial interview
    • Do not arrive late
    • If asked why you left a previous role, be truthful and never life
    • Do not read off your resume during an interview- you should know what you did during each role.
    • Do not be soft spoken
    • Do not use poor language such as slang and pause words
    • Do not act desperate for the job or employment
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