Career Advice

Whether you are a novice or someone with considerable time under his belt, we all need some career guidance on some point or the other. Be confident in any pursuit you find yourself in.

  • Ensure the first area at the top of your CV is a summary of your experience and includes specific applicable experience in relation to the job ad as opposed to generalities.
  • A section of skills should be created to capture the reader’s attention by making it clear what you can offer. Highlighted or bulleted format of the skills and key strengths that you possess that are relevant, such as software tools you have are proficient in.
  • Any relevant volunteer work is a plus point
  • If there is any project you completed that had an immense value to the previous organization, be sure to mention it with details.

When trying to find out your key strengths, just do not write a generic response that many people often do. This is because when the time comes you will be judged on the strengths that you mentioned for.

Make a list of all those achievement, accomplishments, or similar “good experiences” that you have had in the past 2-5 years, whether work-related or not. Those,

  • You feel you did well,
  • Enjoyed doing, and
  • Feel proud of.

Rank order them and choose the best. Now, for each one, write down or tell someone,

  • What you did,
  • How you did it, and
  • What happened.
  • Add these skills to your list.

Review your list and make a mark next to any of the other skills you consider your “motivated skills,” the skills you most enjoy using

1. Contact Your References

Our first step may seem obvious, but skipping it can put you at a big disadvantage. Make sure you contact your professional references ahead of time so they know you are interviewing for a position. This can help you in two key ways:

  1. Your references will be ready to sing your praises. Each employer handles reference calls differently. Some contact references to screen candidates before conducting interviews, and others call references after interviews to help narrow down the list or to be a “tiebreaker” of sorts. No matter what’s true for your situation, it’s always helpful to notify your reference as soon as you know that you are moving forward in the process. This will also ensure that they pay closer attention to incoming phone calls and emails.
  2. Your references may have helpful information about the employer. They may know someone at the organization, or they may have other information that will be helpful to you as you prepare.

2. Conduct a Self-Assessment

Another important step in preparing for an interview is conducting a self-assessment. Reflect on your career. Think about what you’ve accomplished so far and what you want to accomplish in the future. Also, consider your preferences for workplace culture. What kinds of personalities complement your own? You’ll want to reflect on these topics as they will likely come up in an interview.

There are many options for online self-assessments. Although some are designed to guide people when deciding on a career, many assessments are also helpful for interview preparation. The results may help you find the right words to describe yourself.

Conducting a self-assessment is also a good time to search for yourself online. According to a CareerBuilder survey, 70% of employers use social media to research job candidates and 66% use search engines. It may be too late to do a complete overhaul of your online reputation if you’ve already scheduled an interview, but there’s still time to make some last-minute edits to your LinkedIn profile. Familiarize yourself with what employers see when they search for you so you’re prepared to answer any questions about their findings.

3. Research the Position and Employer

If you’ve been invited to interview for a position, you already know at least something about the position and the employer. Preparing for an interview is the right time to go deeper into the details.

Review the Job Description

Before an interview, study the job description line-by-line. Go back to your self-assessment and review how well your experience matches what is listed in the posting. The interviewer may not directly ask how your previous work lines up with the requirements of the position, but making that connection yourself shows that you pay attention to details.

Find More Info About the Employer

If you’re unfamiliar with the employer, there are plenty of ways to find more information. Here are two of our favorite articles about researching employers:

  • 14 Ways To Research Company Culture
  • The Ultimate Guide to Researching a Company Pre-Interview

This is also a good time to tap into your professional network. Ask your closest colleagues if they know anything about the organization, good or bad. You may uncover some information through your personal connections that isn’t available online.

4. Prepare for the Interview Setting

After you’ve finished your research, it’s now time to prepare for the interview setting. No two interviews are exactly alike, and many of those differences come from the format and location. How you prepare for the interview will be heavily influenced by the setting, so reach out to the employer beforehand to confirm you know what to expect.

Here are some of the most common interview settings you may encounter, along with links to some of our favorite resources:

  • Group
  • Mealtime
  • One-on-one
  • Panel
  • Phone
  • Video

Considerations for In-Person Interviews

When preparing for in-person interviews, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Visualize the setting. If you’re interviewing for a position in public administration, you’ll likely be in a different physical space than you would if you’re pursuing a job in health care. Thinking about your surroundings ahead of time may ease some of your stress leading up to the day. You may even be able to find some photos of the facility by conducting some basic research online.
  • Prepare your materials. What do you want to have accessible before, during and after the interview? Bringing several copies of your resume and other application materials is a common strategy, but what else would be helpful? You may want to print out the job description and highlight sections and add your own notes. Doing this will help you prepare your answers, and you may also impress the interviewer if they notice your attention to detail.
  • Practice the route to the interview location. When practicing the route, try to travel at the same time of day as your scheduled interview. It’s also a good idea to target your arrival for at least 15-30 minutes early on the day of the interview. You’ll be glad you included that extra time in your plans if you run into unexpected traffic, and you can also use it to visit the restroom or review your notes.
  • Decide what you’re wearing and try it on ahead of time. Don’t get caught in a situation where the clothes you have in mind don’t fit well on the day of the interview. Also, when deciding what to wear, research the organization and determine whether business professional, business casual or something else is more appropriate. If you’re in a career like emergency medical services, you may be fine with a more casual look, especially if you’ll be going through any work simulations or skills tests during the interview. When in doubt, go with business professional.

Considerations for Remote Interviews

Interviews conducted remotely, whether they’re via phone or video, have their own set of additional considerations:

  • Thoroughly prepare your materials. You’ll probably be able to access more information during a remote interview than you would if it was in-person. Print out anything you think may be helpful, or bring it up on a computer screen. Use caution though; you’ll want to refer to the materials naturally and not delay your answers too much while you search for the right document.
  • Test your technology. The interview can’t happen if your technology isn’t cooperating. If the interview is over the phone, confirm you’ll be somewhere with strong reception or access to a land line. Also, for mobile phones, make sure they’re fully charged or plugged in to a reliable charger. For interviews conducted over the internet, test your audio and video equipment and the software you’ll be using to connect with the interviewer. Finally, if you aren’t the best with technology, find someone who can help you test your equipment or – even better – be with you during the interview to help troubleshoot.

5. Practice Answers to Common Interview Questions

Practicing your answers to common interview questions may be the most critical step. Interview practice is important enough that we’ve created a standalone resource on that topic, which is available by following the link below.

Job Interview Practice: Why It’s Important and How to Do It

6. Prepare Questions for the Interviewer

Most interviewers will save at least a few minutes at the end so that candidates can ask their own questions. Asking questions at the end of an interview shows that you are curious about the position and that you’ve researched the organization. On the other hand, if you finish an interview without asking any questions, it may seem like you are not prepared, or even worse, not interested in the position.

Your questions at the end of an interview can cover a variety of topics. Here are a few ideas:

  • Can you describe a typical day for someone in this positon?
  • What training does the person in this position receive?
  • What are the most common challenges faced by the person in this position?
  • How would you describe the work culture here?
  • What do you enjoy most about working here?

If the topic hasn’t come up before the end of the interview, you’ll also want to ask about the next steps of the interview process. Before you leave, ask about when you should expect to hear back from the employer and whom you can contact with questions after the interview.

While accepting the job offer at first opportunity can be enticing, there should be a lot of consideration before you take the plunge.

Here are a few tips to take into consideration when taking your next steps:

  • Don’t make a rash decision, give the hiring manager a time frame and stick to it. Speak with your consultant, your peers, people at home and circle back in person
  • Be realistic; refer back to your target job requirements and why you wanted a new job at the outset.
  • Get everything in writing; make sure you read your offer details thoroughly and confirm everything via email.
  • Be excited! This is the next chapter in your career and what you have been working toward. Convey this to the hiring manager to further underline that they have made the right decision.
  • Always maintain the relationship, even if the company is not the right fit for you.
  • Be confident you are making the right decision.

Getting an offer from a company means they are excited about you as a candidate and want to work with you. While the idea of negotiating your salary may be uncomfortable, it’s a normal part of the job search and most employers expect it. Here are some tips to help you prepare for negotiating.

Do research

Remember, your compensation isn’t just your annual salary. It also includes things like healthcare benefits, paid time off, transportation perks, bonuses and more. When it comes to negotiating, doing research to get an idea of what a typical offer is for similar job positions can help ensure your counteroffer is within reason.

Glassdoor allows you to see self-reported salaries from current and former employees at specific companies. Also, Payscale will evaluate your offer letter and compare it to industry and area statistics. Both of these resources can provide data to strengthen your negotiation.

Take note of cost of living

In addition to compensation data, you should research the cost of living for the area you’ll be working in. When you get an offer, you will want to make sure it’s enough to pay for food, rent and bills. Ideally, you’ll also have enough for savings, fun and any other expenses you have.

Open the door for conversation

To start, reaffirm your interest and enthusiasm in the company’s mission and the job position. You can demonstrate this by allowing the negotiation to be a conversation. Include questions in your negotiation, like “is this feasible?”, or request a conversation if you’re following up on an offer over email. For example, “I am excited about the opportunity to work at this company. Please let me know if it is better to talk more about this over the phone or in person.”

State your case

Using what you found in your research, present a clear justification for the negotiation. If you are asking for increased pay or benefits, share the reason for it based on your evidence. And talk about your experiences that make you a more standout candidate. If you’re asking for more vacation time or a later start date, do you have a commitment that warrants this? If so, it may help if you share it, but isn’t required. 

What is most important to you when accepting a new role?

Counter-offers can take many forms: an increase in salary, additional company benefits, a sought-after promotion or new job title, additional responsibility, a change in role, more involvement in projects that interest you – or any combination of these.

Why you should stand your ground

There is rarely a good reason to accept a counter offer and stay where you are. You wanted to move, you’ve been through the recruitment process, you’ve been successful and you have scored a job that meets your criteria.

Think about these factors:

  • From the day of your resignation, your loyalty will always be in question
  • This lack of loyalty is likely to be an obstacle to future promotions
  • Your colleagues will look at you differently – after all, you do not really want to be there do you?
  • Your boss will probably start casting around for your replacement immediately – whether you stay or not
  • Why are they offering you what you deserve now, rather than before your resignation?
  • Has the real reason you resigned been adequately addressed?

Do not let an unexpected counter offer stop you in your tracks. Thank your employer for the opportunity and reaffirm your intention to leave.

However, should you decide not to leave for pastures new, be aware that your resignation has not been forgotten. You are going to have to work extremely hard to win back your employer’s trust. You might have to strive harder than your colleagues to prove your loyalty and worthiness as a long-term prospect.

If you need any guidance on this (or any aspect of your job search) then find your nearest office and get in touch with an expert consultant.