Make your Resume Stand Out
Many job-seekers hedge their bets by keeping their resumes vague when it comes to their qualifications and the position they are seeking – like the candidates who say they are looking for “an opportunity to contribute my technical skills.” This way, they hope to qualify for more searches. In my experience, however, companies are looking for experts, and people who really want to do the job. If they have an opening for a bookkeeper, they don’t want to waste time meeting qualified candidates who aren’t really interested in the job. Know what you want, and make your objective clear.
Proofreed that resume!
A strong CV gets you noticed first. Make sure you have a crisp, clean resume that reflects your experience and is to the point. Get a friend if necessary to help you root out any spelling or grammar errors. One resume I saw recently mis-spelled the candidate’s job title. That will put you two runs behind before you’ve even started pitching! Make sure your resume describes your work experience relative to the position you are applying for. Personalization helps – but not too much personalization. We find our clients prefer chronological resumes with some flair, but they mustn’t be too wordy. Some agencies will help you polish your pitch, but don’t expect them to rewrite your resume for you.
Dress for Success
Dress professionally when you meet with an agent. Some job candidates will dress casually for an appointment, feeling that a meeting with an agency isn’t a “real” interview. Guess again. An interview is an interview. This is the first impression you make, so make it your best. No shorts, low-cut blouses, workout wear, or other non-business fashions. If today is casual day at your current employer, and you can’t dress up for your appointment, call ahead and warn us. Agencies aren’t big on surprises.
Treat your Agency Professionally
If your agency schedules an interview, be on time. Being late will be held against you. Of course, agents understand occasional delays beyond your control, such as transit, traffic and the weather. Just let them know as soon as you can if you’re running late. I once had a candidate who showed up a half-hour late without a word of explanation or apology – not the professional behavior we look for. What frustrates agencies during an interview? Candidates who let their cell phones ring (or worse yet, answer them), chewing gum, wearing strong cologne. Agencies expect your best behaviour. Shut your cell phone off during the interview. If it does ring, apologize and turn it off (you win a point if you don’t even look to see who’s calling). I had one candidate who not only answered his phone once, but twice! Talk about a deal-breaker.
Interviews are a Two-Way Street
Don’t let the agent do all of the talking; participate actively in the interview. Most clients want people who are outgoing and have solid interpersonal skills. What better way to demonstrate these attributes than to show off your personality and people skills? Instead of providing short, one-line answers, expand on your responses with examples of your accomplishments and the lessons you’ve learned.
Tell us all about yourself
We need to hear all about you during our interview. The more information you give us about yourself, the more we can focus on the right opportunity for you. So tell us about your work experience, your dream job, salary expectations and career goals. The more we get to know you, the more we can identify the perfect “fit”.
Honesty will get you everywhere
We want you to be up-front in the interview. Since you seem ready to leave your current employer, tell us why. Don’t sugar-coat your answer. Describing the pros and cons of your current employer helps us identify the best job and company fit for you. We want you to be a success; the last thing we want is to find you an opportunity that doesn’t suit your skills or personality.
Most agencies like to get the names and numbers of your references in the preliminary meeting, so have them ready. Speed counts in agency searches, so don’t slow the process trying to locate long-lost references.