29 October 2008

Do Your Homework before Attending any Interview

The wrong perception young and aspiring fresh graduates have about attending interviews is all interviews are passive. If you think that attending an interview means sitting back and answering questions about yourself, then you are wrong. Many people fail in their interviews because they do not play an active role before the interviews.

What is the active role you need to play before an interview?

Begin with reflecting all accomplishments or achievements before you attend the interview:

- Accomplishments in school


·Special commendations

·Clubs / activities

·Positions held


·Awards received

·Participation in sports and games (if any)

·Part-time jobs – when and where

- Accomplishments at home (in the community)

How do you plan your day

Part-time jobs

Hobbies and interests

Volunteer work

- Accomplishment at work


How do you organize your work

Have you set up systems to make your job more efficient

Have you helped to increase your organization’s profit

How do you help to keep costs down

·Coming up with new ideas

Have you contributed any new ideas for your organization

Were the ideas implemented

Were the ideas successful/

Why did the ideas fail

Have you learned any lesson from the failure


Do you get along with your colleagues

How is your relationship with your bosses and other supervisors

Have you lead any team project

Are you a co-operative team member

·Contribution to the society

Do you belong to any work-related non-profit organization

Do you hold any position

Have you been featured in any of the newsletter of the organization

- Check to see if you possessed any hidden skills

A skill is something that you have learned previously and you are able to use it to solve problems competently. It is an ability that can be taught, practiced and mastered effectively.

You should know that you are not able to sell yourself if you cannot convince the prospective managers the skills you possess. These skills are abilities that can be applied to whatever jobs you happen to be doing. You can easily sell yourself to any employer.

These skills really make you ‘attractive’ to any hiring employer. These skills also help in your promotion or when you decide to change job or career.

Go through the list and check some of the skills you may possess.

  • Utilize materials correctly
  • Analyze and evaluate ideas and presentation
  • Produce good and detailed research work on various to
  • Develop new approaches to solve problem
  • Observe, inspect review the work of other
  • Plan, organize, systematize and revise projects/tasks
  • Meet work deadlines
  • Motivate others/team members/colleagues
  • Invent, imagine, create and design
  • Think logically
  • Good time management
  • Work on long term projects
  • Supervise and lead team members
  • Manage work-related stress effectively
  • Produce detailed and accurate work
  • Set goals for team/department
  • Delegate jobs to relevant subordinate/team members
  • Teach, instruct and coach others/colleagues/team members
  • Think and act independently
  • Take risks when required
  • Communicate effectively with others/colleagues/bosses
  • Run and handle meetings effectively

The skills listed in the list above are just an example of some hidden skills you may have. Other people cannot see these skills unless they work with you. Interviewers will be interested to know how you helped to solve a problem faced by your previous organization. So, be honest. What are the skills you have used in solving the problems?

Supposing, you have no experience in solving any problems faced by your previous organization; think hard how you have helped to solve problems for your team/department. Your skills may be used once a while, but you know you have them.

- List your job requirements

This is your list of the ‘features’ you may want in the job. Everyone has a different set of priorities when they apply for a job. You have one too. Ponder carefully and make a list of the features.

Think of your situation now. What is important to you right now? Money, job or experience? List them down. Then rearrange the items again.

Some of the features you may include can be:


·type of organization

·size of organization

·traveling time

·location of organization

·your willingness to relocate

·job responsibilities

·own office/cubicle or share office space

·basic remuneration plan

·fringe befits

·with/no traveling

In case you do not have any idea what to list in this section, get a copy of your daily newspaper. Turn to the job classification or job search page and you will know. Some organizations are very detailed with their list of requirement, while others stress more on experience and qualification.

The reason you need to list all these questions is to help you to write one or two of your achievements in your cover letter to your prospective employers. Of course the other reason is to uplift your morale to appreciate all you have achieved until that moment. You may need to be able to communicate these accomplishments to the people who will value your skills.

- Rewrite your resume and cover letter

This may surprise you, but most prospective employers are hoping to receive a new set of resume and cover letter from you when you attend the interviews. You may have sent in yours a while ago, but the hiring employers wish to know more of your accomplishment between the period you first applied for the job to just before the interview.

Use what you have discovered about yourself to let them know what you have to offer. Focus more on your accomplishments. Use dynamic and strong action verbs to describe your achievements.

You have successfully done your homework. You know yourself and what you are looking for. You do not have to tell tales to impress the interviewers. You have answers to the questions because you know what you want. You will make a good impression.

You may want to keep a job for a long time. So, it is good to attend interviews for positions that meet your criteria. Do not let yourself get stuck in a dead-end job. That is why you need to do your homework, before you write your job application letters!

16 October 2008

Slip-ups That Cost A Job Opportunity

Attending interviews means opportunities. Everyone with the thought of getting a job loves the chance of attending an interview with the top personnel of the company. This is the time the candidate can really 'advertise' himself.

However, there are times candidates make blunders or slips ups. Worst of all, they make one mistake after another just when the hiring company is about to offer them that ‘dream’ opportunity!

Listed here are some of the common blunders:

- Did not attend the interview without any apologies

- Did not bring copies of original documents

- Did not greet the interviewers

- Avoid eye contacts with the interviewers

- Wore the wrong outfit

- Brought along a newspaper into the interview room

- Brag and exaggerate about past experience

- Criticize former bosses and companies

- Chew gums or sweets during the interview

- Gave away secrets of former company

- Avoid questions concerning past company/experience

- Interested only in the benefits of the job and demanded for more

- Discloses the person(s) they knew in the company

- Busy asking own questions during the interview

- Loud ringing mobile phone interrupts the interview

- Demand expected salary instead of negotiate

If you look at the list again, you will find that most of the slip-ons happen because candidates have an attitude – ‘over confidence’. If you are a fresh graduate, be reminded that being called to attend an interview does not mean your chance of securing the job has increased. That may be true ten or twenty years ago, but not today.

If you make some of the slip-ups in an interview, remember not to repeat them again in the next one. You can see how much damage one simple slip-up done to your image and reputation.

Be careful and remember that you may be blacklisted easily. Some interviewers are nice and they do not really bother what you did wrong as long as you are honest. Some examine you closely and would be glad to see you making mistakes.

What can you do to overcome these slip-ups?

- List down all you need to bring to an interview.

- Get ready the outfit you want to wear to the interview earlier.

- Practice answering questions (rehearse the interview in your mind).

- Practice smiling in front of a mirror.

Actually nobody knows what is going to happen during an interview. Just do the best you can. If you do not hear any news from one organization, there are still other organizations waiting. You will have many chances not to repeat the slip-ups in the next interviews.


09 October 2008

Command Attention With A Dynamic Cover Letter

You may receive better job opportunities from time to time. Then it will be time to edit or change your resume. Yes, it is a tedious job. There are so many elements you need to change and add.

This is where your cover letter comes in handy. Covers letters are actually an excellent means to customize your message for each opportunity. You just have to change some wording of the first cover letter to suit the new opportunity. This is easier than rewriting the whole resume again.

The resume is an overview of who you are, but a cover letter is the answer to every hiring manager’s question – ‘Why should I hire you?’ It enlightens them why you are the best and suitable candidate for the job. Just make sure your cover letter is interesting!

How do you compose a dynamite cover letter?

A good and compelling cover letter should be

· Concise

Short and to the point. This is not a history paper. It is an advertisement and you must appear impressive to grab the attention of any hiring manager.

· Confident

You must sound confident when you present yourself for the opportunity. Use a positive tone to convey to them that you are the ‘right’ candidate. However, do not be over-confident as that will lead you nowhere. Write what you need to write and no more.

· Customized

A cover letter should be easily customized for each different opportunity. Your cover letter should be able to represent you as the ideal candidate for the opportunity. Include in the letter what you can say about your career that is relevant to the opportunity at the moment.

· Creative

Think about your key selling points and how they can help to benefit the company. Mention the qualities or achievements that you have that will certainly differentiate you from other applicants. Make your cover letter unique so that you get the interview.

· Clear

Your cover letter must be clear and drive to the point. No beating round the bush. The hiring manager does not have much time to play guess. Your objective here is to get an interview, in that case, let your cover letter says so. Be very clear that you expect an interview because you are the ‘best and most suitable’ candidate.

A good cover letter is one written with the opportunity in mind. Make sure you did some background research of the company and the opportunity before you write the cover letter. State how you will succeed in the targeted position. Grab the attention of the readers by providing some insight to your personal achievements and experience.

There many books written with examples of good cover letters. Learn the art and master it. You will not fret and complain the next time you need to write a resume and cover letter again!


05 October 2008

Write Your Resume Well

There are many inquiries about writing resumes. It is not easy to write a good but easy to understand resume. However, always try and write a simple resume without many spelling errors.

Your resume is representing 'you'. If there are many errors in your resume, nobody bothers to read it. If so, who will know that you are the ideal candidate for the opportunity?

If you are poor in English Language, then get someone to write it for you. However, make sure the resume is personalized to your qualification and experience.

What to take note when writing or planning to write your resume:

1. Do not exaggerate about your projects and experience with former organizations
- To save yourself from being rejected for being 'too smart for us'.
- Suppose your ex-colleague happened to be the hiring manager, you will be embarrassed for such exaggeration!

2. If possible write a sum for Expected salary but in brackets add in 'Negotiable'
- Organizations know what price they should pay for certain positions. When your asking price is too, you might be overlooked. If too low, they would think you are not serious.

3. Do not name any of your reference.
- This is not an important part of your resume. If you are qualified for the opportunity, you will be offered a job, regardless of your references. Although many reference books have this part, you can ignore it. Do not be miserable just because you do not have a good reference.

4. Do not expose too much of your personal life in your resume
- A resume represents your professional self. You should be detailing about your experience and qualifications and not anything else.

5. Be as truthful as you can
- All right, you cannot get rid of your exaggerating nature. So, be as near the truth as possible. This is so that when you attend the interview, you will at least know what to answer.

6. Write or print your resume on a piece of clean A4 size paper.
- Again, it is professional. You are not writing any love letters, so be it!

7. Ask for help to edit your resume
- As a writer, you may not realize the errors you have made. Your reader would do that easily. If you want to ace that opportunity, get someone to edit it now!

There are many other points you should take note. However, these are the ones you can do for this time!