Preparing For An Interview

Picture of Young woman and recruitment procedure in corporation.

You finally get the call you’ve been waiting for… you landed an interview for your dream job! This is the opportunity you’ve been waiting for, and you really want to nail that interview, but how? How can you be sure to stand out against your competition? Have you created an A2B Marketing plan?

What’s an A2B Marketing plan?

Much like B2B (Business to business) or B2C (Business to consumer) marketing, A2B (Applicant to business) marketing is how you reach the company you’re applying to and convince them that they need you on their team. In other words, A2B marketing is how you market yourself to the company and sell yourself as the best candidate for a job. Here’s how to start your A2B Marketing plan.

Start with research

Researching the company you’re interviewing for is one of the most important steps in the A2B and interview processes. It will give you a better idea of what the company and its employees do, what the goals and values of the company are, and what type of employees and customers the company has. Research the company’s website, social media, and LinkedIn. Doing your research is also expected by most employers. If you show that you’ve researched the company before the interview, it shows you have an interest in the company, and you are serious about the position. Furthermore, it gives you a chance to ask better, more meaningful questions at the end of the interview.

Prepare your Documents

During a job search, your resume is your greatest asset, and it can make or break your chances at a position. In most cases, the resume is the first impression of the candidate, and so you want to use your resume to leave an impression on your reader. For more information on writing a resume, check out this article.

Next, you should create a cover letter. Not all applications require a cover letter, but your cover letter is a good place to outline your A2B skills and let the company know why you’re the candidate they should choose. Just like your resume, it is best practice to tailor your cover letter to the company in which you are applying.

If your application requires recommendation letters, you should reach out to your contacts and provide them with some context about the job. Receiving recommendations can help you stand out from other candidates.

Choose an appropriate outfit for the interview

When deciding what to wear for the interview, it is important to keep in mind that you want to impress the interviewers with your achievements and skills—not your outfit. You should dress sensibly and professionally. There’s no reason to wear any flashy or distracting clothing or accessories to the job interview. Make sure your clothes are clean, wrinkle-free, and fit properly.

Practice

Interviews can be a nerve-wracking experience; and if you come unprepared, it will be evident. Take a moment to draft out some answers to questions like, “Tell me about yourself” and “Why should we hire you”.  Have an idea of what some strengths, weaknesses, and experiences are that you’d like to highlight. Also, think about a few examples that show your work ethic and show your ability to follow through.   Even if these specific questions aren’t asked in the interview, you can use these stories to show how valuable you are, and by telling a story, you are making yourself memorable to those who are interviewing you. Practice telling these stories in a way that show your strengths, and how you can add value to the company. Mock interviews can also be conducted at the Career Success Center if you want extra experience answering interview-type questions. Practice and preparation are two components to a solid A2B promotional plan. By practicing, you become more confident in yourself and you will connect better with the interviewers.

Get to the interview

Much like a job, you should NOT be late for a job interview! Be sure to give yourself enough time to get to the interview accounting for traffic, weather, etc. You want to be there at least 10 minutes early, ready to go. Make sure to bring extra copies of your resume, a notepad, and a pen to the interview. If applicable, you should also have a portfolio of your work with you. Leave your phone out of sight and off (not on vibrate, OFF) for the duration of the interview. Bring your smile, and don’t be afraid to be yourself during the interview. Find tips on the interviewing process here. Good luck on your job hunt!

Other helpful links:

https://usfcollegetocareer.com/2017/08/02/4-open-ended-interview-questions-and-what-employers-really-want-to-know/

https://usfcollegetocareer.com/2013/06/25/10-unconventional-tips-for-job-seekers/

Is your thank you letter in the mail?

Hand Written Thank You Note

Previously, we had talked about the importance of enclosing a cover letter with your job application and personalizing it, to ensure, that you’re addressing the job requirements while explaining your qualifications.

Though this may seem like a tedious task, it is one that will show employers you have thoughtfully considered how your skillset could best serve the company.

This week, we’re going to talk about another often overlooked component of the job application and interview process: the thank you letter. Commonly, thank you letters are a great way to show gratitude for a gift that you have received.

And, when a hiring manager calls you in for an interview, they are gifting you their time. So, use it wisely and then follow up with a thank you.

Thank you letters (or emails, we’ll get to which one is better in a second) allow you to do three things:

  • Show that you have good manners: Like when showing gratitude for a gift, a thank you letter sent after an interview shows the interviewer that you are thankful for their consideration of you.
  • Show that you’re serious about the job position: According to a CareerBuilder.com survey, those who don’t send a thank you letter or email following an interview—a shocking 57% of job applicants—“stick out as a sore thumb” to hiring managers.
  • Reiterate points that were made in the interview by you or the interviewer: Show that you were being attentive during the interview while making sure that the interviewer remembers specific information about you.

According to Monster.com, whether or not you send a thank you email or letter is largely dependent upon where you’re applying.

If you know a hiring decision is not likely to be made for a couple of weeks, then sending a thank you letter through snail mail is fine, and at a more traditional company, may be preferable.

If you know that the decision will be made within 48 hours of your interview, then it is beneficial to send a thank you email to make sure that the message travels fast and is sent to the appropriate person.

Employers want to hire employees that are committed to the company and are grateful for the experience. Be one of the few that shows appreciation before even getting the job offer.

USF Career Success Center

Tower Hall N204

MWF 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

References:

Doyle, A. (11 May 2017). Job interview thank you letter examples. Retrieved from https://www.thebalance.com/job-interview-thank-you-letter-examples-2063964

Kaufman, Z. C. (2017). Job interview thank you: Is it better to send a letter or email?. Retrieved from https://www.monster.com/career-advice/article/interview-thank-you-email-letter

 

The cover letter: the hidden gem to landing an interview

Rejected Resumes

In most cases, employers won’t look at a job applicant’s resume until they’ve read their cover letter, and if the letter doesn’t convince the hiring manager and/or executive director that you’re the right person for the job, your resume will most likely be thrown in the trash.

What exactly is a cover letter, you ask? Simply, it is a letter that is addressed to the hiring manager and/or executive director of a company and explains an applicant’s qualifications for the job.

It allows the applicant to go into more depth regarding their skills and qualifications than their resume allows, although, like a resume, it too should be short.

The most important element to writing a cover letter is directly addressing the needs of the company and position to which you’re applying.

The hiring manager or executive director will want to ensure that an applicant has a basic understanding of the company’s mission and needs.

For example, the Illinois Spina Bifida Association (ISBA) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that “works to improve the quality of life of individuals and families living with Spina Bifida [a spinal cord disorder]”.

So, the applicant would need to understand how the organization is currently achieving their mission e.g. ISBA provides in-home social work services; sleepaway camp for individuals with Spina Bifida looking to become more independent and provides youth and adult support groups.

The opening paragraph of a cover letter should address who you are, what position you’re applying for and how you came to hear about the job listing. Did you see a newspaper ad about it? If a respected employee of the company or organization told you about the position, make sure to include that information.

As a precursor to the following paragraph, where you’ll be explaining your qualifications in detail, write an opening of 1-2 sentences that summarizes why you believe your qualifications make you the right person for the job. For example:

“As a recent graduate of University of St. Francis where I studied Communications with a concentration in PR/Advertising and Journalism, I believe I have a deep understanding of how to target messaging and branding towards specific audiences. It is my hope that my educational background combined with five years of experience working for ABC Advertising Firm, as a project manager, will prompt you to consider me for the position of Marketing Research Analyst.”

The body paragraphs are where you’ll want to elaborate on the specific qualifications you have that are applicable to the position you’re applying for. For example, if the job posting specifies that the company is looking for someone who can, “improve quality results by studying, evaluating, and re-designing processes; implementing changes”; then, you may want to mention any experience you’ve had as a project manager. For example:

“At ABC Advertising, I was tasked with leading a team of graphic designers to create a logo for a sports recreation facility. It was during this time that I came to learn the importance of evaluating progress not only within the context of the finished product but in the ability of the team to work together. My considerations have helped me better manage my creative teams and increased overall workplace efficiency.”

The closing paragraph of your cover letter should reiterate why you’re qualified for the position, and as a personal touch, why you think the company is the right fit for you. Make it clear that you’re interested in interviewing for the position and that you’ll be in touch.

Sign your name, include your contact information and check for any grammar or spelling mistakes and you’re good to go!

Visit the USF Career Success Center for cover letter writing assistance

USF Career Success Center

Tower Hall N204

MWF 8:00 a.m. 4:30 p.m.

References:

Doyle, A. (18 June 2017). How to write a successful cover letter. Retrieved from https://www.thebalance.com/how-to-write-a-cover-letter-2060169

Is your social media up to par?

Social Media - strategy conceptIn 2016, a study from CareerBuilder.com, found that last year, 86% of employers consulted potential hires’ social media pages before deciding to make an offer.

This should come as no surprise in an age where social media takes up much of our time and allows us to share our lives as well as our thoughts and opinions instantaneously.

While social media can be a vehicle for self-expression, it is a vehicle for first impressions too, so it is important that you are presenting an honest yet professional version of yourself. Here are ten things to keep in mind when posting online.

  • Show that you know how to use social media: Just because employers may be looking at your Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn does not mean you should be scared to use them.

 In fact, 41% of respondents in the CareerBuilder survey reported that they were unlikely to hire job candidates that did not have an online presence.

So, create that LinkedIn profile or professional Facebook Page.

On both Facebook and LinkedIn, join and participate in career-focused discussion groups. Show potential employers that you have a genuine interest in industry conversations and have the expertise and thoughtful opinions to share.

  • Show that you are articulate: According to the CareerBuilder survey Jobvite.com, 36% of employers look to see that potential hires are communicating clearly online. Are your commas in the right places? Are you spelling words correctly and using correct tenses and proper sentence structure?

If not, you may want to correct those errors. If an employer catches a big mistake, such as the misspelling of several words or improper capitalization, this may leave the impression that you don’t care to present the best version of yourself and may not work to represent the company well.

  • Be creative and strategical in how you use social media: Especially if you’re applying for a marketing or graphic design position, it’s important to show employers that you are able to bring something fresh to their organization.

Are you creating a personal website? Link to the content that you create whether it be logos, photos you take or content you write. Show potential employers what you have to offer them.

Share articles or videos that are pertinent to your industry. Share your opinions and encourage others to do the same in a constructive way.

Don’t:

Set your social media profiles to private: Not only will this make it easier for you to find and make connections but it also puts potential employers at ease.

According to Monster.com, setting your social media profile to private leaves employers to assume that you have something to hide. Do not lose out on a job opportunity because you chose to keep your profile private, even though, you have nothing to hide.

If you do have something to hide; remove it.

 Badmouth previous employers or coworkers: While social media may seem like a diary to vent your frustrations, remember that everyone, including potential employers, can read what you write.

Do not give off the impression that you are unable to exhibit self-restraint and to find productive ways of dealing with your emotions. If you must speak out about work online ensure that you are able to show potential employers that you have found a positive resolution to your problem.

 Use profanity: According to Jobvite, 63% of employers say that the use of profanity on a job candidate’s Facebook page is a put-off. Swearing comes off as aggressive and sometimes crude, two characteristics that you do not want employers associating with your personality.

Social media is a great resource for connecting with potential employers and other industry professionals. Remember, however, that once someone clicks on to your page they are receiving an impression of you whether it is one you intended or not.

USF Career Success Center

Tower Hall N204

MWF 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

References:

Kasper, K. (February 17, 2015). Jobvite infographic: Watch what you post on social media. Retrieved from http://www.jobvite.com/blog/jobvite-infographic-watch-post-social-media/

Thottam, I. (2017). These social media mistakes can actually disqualify you from a job. Retrieved from https://www.monster.com/career-advice/article/these-social-media-mistakes-can-actually-disqualify-you-from-a-job

Number of Employers Using Social Media to Screen Candidates Has Increased 500 Percent Over the Last Decade (2016, April 8). Retrieved from http://www.careerbuilder.com/share/aboutus/pressreleasesdetail.aspx?ed=12%2F31%2F2016&id=pr945&sd=4%2F28%2F2016