Monday, August 6, 2012

Resume, Cover Letter, and Interview Etiquette

The job market is flooded with people searching for jobs and not enough jobs that people want available. This is a great scenario for companies because they have a much better pool of people to choose from when hiring for a position. They can get a person with more training, more education, and pay them less. In a round about way, this is helpful to the consumer because their product or service is likely of a higher standard and quality.

But for those of us searching for a job, this situation makes getting the job we have been wanting very difficult. Not so many years ago, college graduates were sought out for employment opportunities. Now, it is the college graduate who is going to sometimes extreme measures to find a job that will hire them. Many times, these graduates are getting jobs that are more entry-level than they would have anticipated.

The resume itself is important in giving a clean, polished, well organized impression of yourself. Formatting, spacing, spelling, and grammar are all important aspects. If you are trying to get a job where you communicate with anyone (externally or internally within the company) you are going to be expected to be able to do so clearly. The resume should also be tailored to the specific job you are applying for. You never want to put too much on a resume, it just clutters up the information about you. You want to highlight the training, education, or experience that will qualify you for the job. These should be quickly read by the person you are sending the resume to because they are sorting through sometimes hundreds of other people's resumes.

Along with sending a resume, it is a very good idea to include a cover letter. Most jobs post their open positions online, therefore they are able to give very specific instructions to job applicants. This is the singularly most important thing to follow. If you can't follow the directions for applying for the job, they will assume you won't follow directions on the job. If they state they do not want a cover letter-don't. If they don't mention it at all, I would still include it.

For your cover letter, this is the time you get to "plead" your case for why you are a great applicant and also show your enthusiasm about the company and the specific position. It is possible that if your cover letter is too plain Jane or overbearing they will never even look at the resume itself. You want to avoid accusatory language-this means talking to the reader by using "you". This is business writing 101. Even once you have a job, language where you are calling out the reader is considered bad tact. Obviously there might be a reason to occasionally use you/your language, but there should also be some I/me language too.

In my cover letters, I always make sure to state the company I am applying with and the specific position within the body. I also throw in my most relevant experience/education and why it has prepared me for the job I am seeking. It is also nice to end the letter with something such as "I thank you in advance for your consideration and hope to have the opportunity to interview with "insert company"."

After sending out resumes, sometimes dozens, hopefully you will get at least a few responses about interviewing for a position. My motto-never turn down an interview. Not only does this give you practice talking to someone (or group of someones) that you are unfamiliar with, but you never know what unannounced opportunity might be available if they see potential in you from the interview.

The interview is important-it is your first impression on the company and can not be undone. You will want to make sure you dress professionally. It is better to be slightly over-dressed than under-dressed. Obviously there are a few exceptions to this...if you are going to a farm, you won't want to be wearing your best clothes! A few mistakes women will make is wearing too much perfume (men too with cologne) and wearing too much makeup. When I was a teen, my impression was that the more noticeable the make-up, the more people would realize how much time I devote to my appearance, and same with the scents-the more the better. In the business world, it is nice to have a barely noticeable scent, or none at all! With make-up, adults are supposed to have natural looking features, so try to go with that thought.

Preparing for a job interview Mind Map by Tony Buzan Preparing for a Job Interview
Once at  the business you are interviewing with, treat everyone as if they are making the hiring decision. This includes people who are just there to do business, any front desk/receptionist, and any employee that talks to you are even just acknowledges you. People talk, and also you might be observed during all of these interactions. I assume that I am being watched as I pull into the parking lot-so this means drive curiously and walk with confidence into the building!

Make sure you shake hands firmly once introduced to the person/people you are talking to. Once talking with the person interviewing you, make sure you don't leave them to do all the talking. You won't want to dominate the conversation unless they are leading you to answer question or talk about your experience. The best rule of thumb is to make the interview a polite back and forth conversation. You don't want to talk too much, but you need to market yourself and your personality in a relatively short amount of time. You also want to make sure that you are making eye contact (equally among a group if there is more than one person), and please-no gum or candy. I would even discourage water, coffee, or other beverages unless they are offered to you once there.

Always thank the person/people you were with and if possible try to conclude your meeting by using their name and shaking their hand(s) (whatever greeting and goodbye is appropriate in your region/country). They should be professional enough to give you their business card as you are leaving, and this is the golden ticket to being able to send a thank you to the correct person the next day.

Thanking the interviewer/interviewers is a way to not only thank them for their time, but reiterate your interest in their company and remind them of who you are. The more prompt you are in this, the more respect they will have. A hand-written thank you in this day and age really shows the above and beyond effort to do something personal and slightly more time consuming. If the company seems to really lean toward computer communication, it would be acceptable to email your thanks.  The biggest etiquette to remember with thank-you is to be sincere and concise.

Patience is the next step with all of this, and for me the most difficult. You do not want to continue trying to make communication with the people because they already have a job to perform with the hiring process being an additional thing on their plate. What I did with my interview was send a hand written note in the mail the next day, then I waited to about 2 1/2 weeks after the interview to send an additional thank-you e-mail. The e-mail stated I was still interested in the company, prompted the question about whether the position had been filled, and if there was any thing additional they wanted from me in their consideration. After this communication, I feel it is rude to try and make contact a third time unless they prompt it first.

Good luck, and remember-be confident in yourself but humble at the same time!


  1. Yes,,,There are too many people who are searching for job and they also know that resume, cover letter and interview are the most important aspect in terms of getting the job. Your blog will help people to know the things which are very important in making them different from other candidates.

  2. You want to highlight the training, education, or experience that will qualify you for the job.

  3. Thanks for these amazing tips. This is really helpful especially for freshers like me. I am applying for my dream job and now I am seeking help from a resume writer Edmonton but I am also looking for good resources online just like this one.

    1. Thanks and good luck to you, I hope you get your dream job!

  4. The more prompt you are in this, the more respect they will have. essay writer uk

  5. So informative things are provided here, I really happy to read this post, I was just imagine about it and you provided me the correct information I really bookmark it. visit site


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