Because most of your job searching can be done online, you might wonder why you'd ever need to print hardcopies of your resumes and cover letters. After all, if you applied to the job online and emailed your documents, they should have everything they need when you go in for your interview. Right?
Wrong. There are several instances when the interviewer won't have your documents readily accessible. Most times it's because they're unprepared (which might have something to do with the dozen other people they're interviewing). If you think you can get away with going to an interview with nothing more than a nice suit and a pen in hand, think about how you would handle these situations:
- The interviewer forgets or misplaces your resume. This has happened to me more than once. The interviewer sat down, then realized she didn't bring a copy of my resume with her. I'll never know if it was a genuine oversight, or a test to see if I'd prepared well. Luckily, I had printed a few copies and brought them with me in case this happened. The interviewer is the decision maker so she's allowed to be a little unprepared (even though it drives us job seekers nuts!), but never let yourself be the one who has to apologize for not being ready.
- You interview with several people and not everyone has your resume. Good hiring managers will let you know ahead of time how many people you will be meeting with, maybe even in what order. But others will give you a date, time, and place, and expect you to deal with whatever they throw your way. That might mean that you go in thinking you're meeting with one or two people, but instead it's five plus the HR director. Again, a good hiring manager will make sure all interviewers have copies of your resume and cover letter. But in case they don't, you should have extra printouts on hand to show that you thought ahead and planned for all contingencies.
- You applied with an older resume and want them to have the new one. This one actually happened to me (and I still laugh about it). I submitted a first draft of my resume with some typos and didn’t notice the mistakes until a few days later. Despite the errors, the company called me in for an interview. Given the chance to correct my mistake, I forwarded an updated resume to the hiring manager days before the interview. But guess what? I interviewed with four more people than I expected, and they all had the old version of my resume. Lessons learned before, I handed out the updated version (and again wonder if it was all just a test to see how well prepared I was).
Having paper copies of your resume available for your interviewers shows preparation, organization, and good planning skills. And if the interviewer's "forgotten" resume is actually a test, you'll pass with flying colors.
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