It’s spring and time to use the time-honored skills of “spring cleaning” to review and perhaps modify some of your job search strategies. It’s something that should be done regularly, but spring offers that special opportunity to check more carefully some important points. In Part I, I examined fast-track hiring, unique resume formats, and the overwhelming use of “skills” on resumes. There are three more points that need “refreshing” for today’s job market.
Related: Spring Cleaning For Your Job Search: Part 1
Interview Questions: Easier Or Harder
With the plethora of sources publishing “tips” on interview questions, it would appear to be easier to be prepared to answer questions that are likely to be asked in an interview. A candidate could almost bet on being asked the classics like “tell me about yourself,” or “what are your strengths?” Audiences at career workshops typically responded at the 90%+ level when queried about these “typical” questions. That hasn’t been true lately. In the last few years, literally hundreds of articles, blog posts, and career “tips” have been published about “favorite interview questions.” Very detailed profiles on the hiring processes of several major companies have been published online with insights on “key questions.”
What’s a candidate to do? One solution is more extensive practice, preparing and rehearsing answers to possible questions. This has value but is potentially very time-consuming. A job seeker should certainly monitor career resources for insights on interview questions. But there’s a companion solution, an alternative that is much more relevant for every job seeker.
Many of interview questions you will be asked can be answered with a “single” type of response: your accomplishments. And your accomplishments in your current, and previous, job(s) should be the most important part of your preparation because they are relevant to your interview, your resume, and your online profiles. While it won’t work for all questions, the first lens you should use to answer a question is to connect to a particular accomplishment. “Tell me about yourself:” “My current role is…, and in the last six months, my most significant accomplishment was…” “What’s your greatest strength?” “In my current position, my greatest strength was demonstrated when I…” And don’t forget that each of your accomplishments should be specific.
There’s another valuable point on resumes, in addition to the widening range of formats discussed in Part I. I regularly receive resumes from job seekers, family members, and veterans. I’ve noticed fewer typos and grammatical errors. Spell check may be working better than it did years ago although some of the common grammatical errors still appear. However, I’m noticing a consistent frequency of some other basic errors. Hounded by the belief that resumes must be a certain length, one page or two pages, job seekers attempt to cram their entire career history into a 10pt font with quarter inch margins. They frequently list their education at the top of the resume despite having five or even ten years of work experience post-graduation. They describe each job with nine or ten duties.
These might not be considered “errors” but they’re serious missteps. They can lead to immediate rejection of your resume. What should be on that resume? It’s back to those accomplishments, two or three starting with your current (or most recent) job. Tell me your story, get me interested, so that I want to know more about what you’ve done. That’s what tells me about what you might be able to do for me. That’s what I want to know.
There’s been a renewal of interest in lying on resumes and during interviews. Estimates vary but some measures have consistently shown that about 20% of resumes contain lies. There’s been both traditional and new research pointing out that lies about education are the most common. Yet, this is perhaps the easiest thing for a prospective organization to verify. It’s not always easy to verify employment history, often limited to checking dates of employment.
The solution is simple: don’t lie on your resume, on your LinkedIn profile, or in an interview. It’s a sure way to get eliminated from consideration. Plus, it’s your sincere presentation of your work history, again those accomplishments, that give you the best opportunity to advance in a job search.
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About the author
Jim Schreier is a management consultant with a focus on management, leadership, including performance-based hiring and interviewing skills. Visit his website at www.farcliffs.com
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by a CAREEREALISM-approved expert. You can learn more about expert posts here.Photo Credit: Shutterstock