Text Size: S M L

Career Assistance

Repostition Yourself

Attitude and assertiveness can be key to re-employment.

Protect Yourself

Take steps to maximize your marketability.

Interview Tips

Having been on both sides of the fence too many times, the interviewer and the interviewee, these suggestions are from hard earned experience.

The following tips should help you shine.

Think of the interview as one long story that you must tell someone in order for him or her to hire you. Make sure you know what elements of the story must be told. Then, as you are questioned, use the elements to craft your reply. More importantly, if you are not asked questions which enable you to reveal these traits or experiences, take the offensive and work them into the conversation.

It's your time on center stage. Use it wisely.

Research the company and prepare solid questions. The Internet has a wealth of information available. The days of trekking to the library are thankfully over.

Conduct the "Who, What, When, Where, Why and How" test on your resume. You should be able to answer these questions, where they apply, for every job you've ever had...and for everything else you've ever done in your life!

Practice focusing on responsibilities, accomplishments and qualifications. Then outline how they can be of benefit to the company's specific needs. By now, you should know some of their needs and will uncover more during the interview.

To calm your nerves while you wait, which at some point you invariably will, try a mint tic-tac. Small enough to swallow before you enter the office without gagging and powerful enough to keep away any stray dragons . A few deep breaths may also help. Stop reviewing, put away the resume, it will just make you more anxious.

Remember the non-verbals; good strong handshake, maintain eye contact and watch the body language.

Be observant when you enter the office and look at photos, bulletin boards etc. to find something that you can use to develop a little rapport and break the ice before the interview actually begins. Don't underestimate enthusiasm....it really goes a long way.

If you don't quite understand a question, rephrase it to make sure you've got it right and then answer. It's okay to pause and organize your thoughts before answering the question. Even if you know the answer right off the bat, to be cool, fake it. Pause and act like you're pondering a bit.

Brevity is key. Keep your answers concise and on track. The infamous question that throws everybody for a loop right at the beginning of the interview is "Tell me a little bit about yourself?" Don't fall into the rambling trap, no dissertation here, 1 to 2 minutes tops. Focus on your background and a couple of professional and personal accomplishments. Think "highlights."

Don't be afraid to ask hard questions, identify the employer's needs, and try to show how you can satisfy them. Keep in mind that it's a two way street . You're both trying to find out if this position is a good fit.

Depending on where you are in the interview process and with whom you're speaking, close with something specific... next steps or job. Make a strong closing statement, especially if you've decided you want the position. Re-affirm your interest. And remember the rule that silence is golden, once you close for that job, shut up and wait for a reply.

Don't forget to ask for business cards.

Send a thank-you note if suggested, regardless of the outcome. It's a small world and you never know.

Final words...be patient, you're in the hurry up and wait mode.

Writing a Resume that Sells

The truth about the consulting industry is that competition for contracts is growing exponentially. In a market where supply often exceeds demand, getting your talent and experience noticed by employers and recruiting agencies takes more effort than ever. Knowing what takes your resume from the mailbox to the interview is what successful resume writing is all about.

Tip #1 - Length and Form
Forget the one page resume rule, but beware of becoming too lengthy. If you've been in the contracting business for a while, there is no way to fit all that experience in a single page. Today, resumes can run between two and four pages. If your resume exceeds four pages, chances are employers are not reading the whole document. Be succinct. Hiring managers are interested in you, not your previous employers.

Tip #2 - Technical Summaries
Technical summaries are a necessary feature for today's consultants. This brief synopsis of technical skills should always be stylized to match an employer's requirements. Never misspell a skill or its abbreviation. Only use industry accepted abbreviations. Spell out any experience with customized software or system gained from a previous employer.

Tip #3 - Professional Experience
It is this section that often secures an interview. Never use a summary in place of this section. Always tie project descriptions with company names and dates of employment. Lengthy gaps in employment and unspecified responsibilities within previous projects flash warning signals to potential employers. Remember that the most recent six years are critical to gaining attention. Start this section with your most recent position and go backwards. Experience dating before the current six years can be shortened. Use industry buzzwords and specific technical skills to correlate your experience with the summary and the employer's needs. Be specific. Don't count on employers to read between the lines. Basic rule of thumb is that anything assumed will work against you. Most importantly, use action verbs when describing your responsibilities. This adds ownership and power to your resume.

Tip # 4 - Internet/Scanner Friendly Resumes
The use of Internet and e-mail as resume sources is ever on the rise.

If you choose to e-mail your resume: Be sure that it is sent in ASCII or Text format. This increases the chances of compatibility with the employer's system.
Take the time to send a text copy directly to the company.

If you have your resume on the World Wide Web: Make sure an easily transferred text file is available for downloading.
An idea would be to create a button that displays the ASCII text version of your resume on screen. Don't use your web page as a substitute for responding to a resume request

If you are sending a hard copy or fax copy of your resume: Don't be afraid to ask if a company will require a scanner friendly copy. Many companies scan resumes into their database. Use black ink on white paper, few columns, NO tables, and 12 point font for the best scanned documents

Above all else, present yourself as accessible. Employers are looking not just for technical expertise, but people who will make a positive impact on their company. This willingness to work together is often what gets the job.