Need a new job but don't know how or where to begin? Before you start networking or surfing the web for job postings, recognize these "three pillars" that can help you refine and perfect how you present yourself and your skills to potential employers: your resume, your web presence, and your interview skills.
1. A Solid Resume
To build your resume, you need to determine what you have to offer an employer. How well do you really know yourself, namely your strengths and weaknesses as they apply to your work? What sets you apart from others? What special task did your boss always ask you to perform rather than someone else, knowing you'd do it right?
Think especially of the times when you made or saved the company money, when you led or played a major role in a successful project, or when you helped the company hang onto a less-than-happy customer. Answer these questions and chances are you can come up with a list of strengths you would bring to a new job.
Next, consider your future: What are your career goals? Do your strengths help you carve out and articulate a long-term vision for your future? How can your next job help you realize that vision?
Now that you know your strengths and goals, it's time to put them all together in your resume. As you do so, be sure of two things:
- Your professional summary, at the top of the resume, must highlight your strengths and how they would benefit the employer, and
- Your work experience must list detailed examples of accomplishments and skills that support your strengths.
For each employer, offer a list of accomplishments that would be most applicable to that organization and that job. You may have other accomplishments, but if they don't help your chances, leave them out.
2. A Solid Web Presence
Erect your second pillar by creating (or enhancing) your professional online presence with a social networking profile on a site such as LinkedIn or Facebook. If you have a personal web site that employers can access, add your resume and (if appropriate) a portfolio of your work.
Your web profile should take the same "summary" and "work experience" approach as your resume by highlighting your strengths, but it doesn't need to be aimed at a specific employer. Like the summary in your resume, the summary in your profile should be a brief synopsis, supported by a more comprehensive list of accomplishments.
3. Solid Interview Skills
If your resume and online profile are written well and give an employer enough reasons to want to talk with you, put up your third pillar by articulating your value clearly in the job interview.
Here's what's important in interpersonal communication: the ability to listen intently to the hiring manager and other interviewers for what they say about the job, the company, and the company culture. Also, be aware of your body language, especially anything that could send a message that you're nervous or hiding something. Be clear, direct, and engaging. And, to ensure your message is getting through clearly, ask your interviewer after each answer if you need to clarify or expand upon any point you made.
In that same vein, be able to pick up on any noticeable body language that could indicate either enthusiasm or nervousness behind the interviewer's answers to your questions. For instance, if someone doesn't look you in the eye or fumbles with an object while he or she responds to a question, it could be a sign that you're not getting an honest answer.
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