Killer Resume or Interview That Wows? Which Is Better?

Resume or Interview
Resume or Interview

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I recently decided to respond to a few recruiters about some work opportunities. I hate job hunting but they have a saying, “the best time to look for a job is when you already have one.” Surprisingly, I’ve almost always gotten offers or serious interest and it had me wondering about the reason for my success. I mean, some people look for work for months and aren’t able to get a single bite. I’m out here getting interest from recruiters left and right! Without even looking! So which is more important, the resume or the interview? What is the most contributing factor that’s helping me get noticed and picked up by employers?

The Resume
It has taken me years to build a good resume. What makes a good resume? One that shows that all your experience for the past 5+ years is related and not broken up or mismatched. You can see the professional growth on the resume. I’ve literally taken jobs that were a step back in money and title because the company hiring had such an amazing reputation in the industry and I knew it would look good on my resume.

I’ve always opted for a resume that was simple, clean and ONLY one page. If someone has to flip the page to see the rest of your experience, then it’s too long. CVs tend to be longer but, honestly, does anyone use a CV anymore? Generally, recruiters spend less than 10 seconds scanning a resume, so making it longer than one page seems ridiculous.

The role of the resume is to get your foot in the door so you can get to the next step, so having a solid resume can open a ton of work opportunities.

I think the key for me was to only take work that was related to my field, look ahead at what other more successful people in my industry did (Thanks LinkedIn!), and try to copy that. As a result, my resume became more niche, to the point where I don’t really need to look for work, the work finds me.

Check out my other post on how to structure a Resume.
The Interview

Interviewing also took me years to get good at and, to be honest, it hasn’t been something I’ve really perfected yet. I always got the feeling that US employers generally worship the “extrovert” and that specific type of personality that can get people up off their feet and excited.

Since I’m more of an introvert, most of my interviews have been good at best but not exceptional.

At the very least, I’m no longer the nervous nelly I once was during interviews. I think that has more to do with my experience level. Once you reach a certain level of experience, you sort of lose that uncertainty and voice in your head that asks, “Am I really qualified for this position?”

Things that I’ve definitely improved on are:

    Confidence

This has been key to capitalizing on work opportunities. I’ve noticed that I’ve no longer looked at the job I was interviewing for as something that I “needed” to validate me or take me to the next level. Now I’m able to come to the interview table and really ask hard questions like, “WHY is this position available now?” Or “What’s the company culture like?” I can take a stance where it’s almost like the company has to woo me in order to get me to move. No more groveling for the job with multiple thank you emails, no more hoping and praying for the job, none of that sh*t.

    Answering BS Questions

We all know what BS questions the interviewer usually asks. “If you were any animal what would you be and why?” “Tell me about a time you were challenged at work.” “Tell me about a time you made a mistake at work.” Those are the types of questions that come at the most random time and, at which point, you have to parrot an answer that the interviewer can agree with. Becoming skilled at these can be challenging. Especially if you’re nervous and not great at thinking on your feet.

For me, I just try to say what the person wants to hear while also tying it to why I should have the job. And ALWAYs spin it positively.

    Not Caring About The Outcome

Like I mentioned, “the best time to look for a job is when you already have one.” Having a job already and not moving without another one lined up has helped me TREMENDOUSLY. It helps me to not care and just carry on with the interview like I’m the prize. It’s allowed me to be picky about what work opportunities I’m willing to take.

I’ve seen people quit their jobs out of anger and then regret it because it’s only a matter of time before you run through your savings and then absolutely NEED a job, any job at any rate.
Side note: no matter how good you feel your interview went, NEVER quit your job until you’ve accepted their offer.

Overall having solid interview skills are important if you actually want to LAND the job.

So which is more important, resume or interview?
If I had to put my finger on it, I would say I think solid resumes are the most important to the job search. At the end of the day, the quality of your resume, your experience and the aesthetics of your resume are 100% in your control, an interview is not.

Resumes are also the way to get your foot in the door. Before the interview, there’s a recruiter picking out applicants from a pile of resumes. Only the most stellar resumes are able to proceed to the interview phase.

Not to say that interviews can’t be important, you can walk in with a semi-good resume and just blow the hiring manager out of the water by having an awesome personality and great interview skills.

Still, I find the the interview process to be pretty chaotic and arbitrary. Sometimes, companies aren’t even looking to hire but use the interview process to shop their competitors and get their employees to give off confidential information in the hopes of getting a job. Sometimes, you just can’t vibe with the interviewer. Interviewers can be rude, standoffish or downright inappropriate.

So even though you can’t always master every single interview, the right resume can almost always open the door to work opportunities that are the right fit.

Check Out My Other Posts
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How To Interview Well: Tips & Tricks For The Perfect Interview

How To Interview Well: Tips & Tricks For The Perfect Interview

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I was always a terrible test-taker and on top of that, I’m terrible at interviewing. I just don’t have a gregarious personality. I’m introverted, I don’t smile enough but I know my stuff. Apparently, knowing my stuff doesn’t come across in my interviews if I’m not outgoing.

Personally, I feel like the interviews process is such a terrible way to hire people. There’s so much emphasis placed on interviews over resumes. How much can you really know about someone after 10 to 30 minutes of talking to them? Often times the smooth talkers and the more extroverted interviewees get preference just because they interview well. For me, I’ve gone as far as avoiding changing toxic jobs just because I don’t want to go through the interview process. It’s a nightmare. As I’m sure it is for a lot of people. But over the years I’ve gotten better. I’ve come to terms that it’s a necessary part of life like driving or Christmas with the in-laws, might as well get good at it.

Here Are The Things That I’ve Learned Along The Way:

1) Research The Company In Advance, Including Your Interviewer

Dig deep and find out everything you can about the company. Check the company website and look up the person who will be interviewing you. Google any news about them. This research will help you to come up with reasons as to why you’re a good fit for the position. Why is it important to research? Because you want to be prepared. One of the main questions interviewers ask is, “why do you want to work here?” Understanding the companies history, their current projects, what’s happening in the news will help you link your experience with why you want to work there. Since most candidates don’t put in this effort, this will separate you from the pack and help you be memorable.

2) Check Glass Door, Yelp, Linkedin and Indeed For Information.

This interview is also about finding out if this is the right position for you. Often times, people take jobs without thinking about the culture of the company, the work environment, or the benefits. It’s essential to find that out as early as possible so you could bring these questions to the interview. Glassdoor and Indeed are both great ways to get insider information on what it’s like to work at a company. Nearly every major company has a profile on Glassdoor or Indeed. There you can find out about benefits, interview questions, the salary and what current and former employees think about working there. Yelp is also a really great tool to find out more about what it would be like to work there. Customers play a major role in your work environment. What they think about the service or the product matters. With Yelp, you can find out if the company is organized or easy to deal with. I also recommend checking LinkedIn and looking at the profiles of the person interviewing and people who have similar positions as you. Low-key stalking. ?You want to know what kind of background they have. Maybe they have something in common with you that you can bring up casually in the interview. Or maybe they know mutual acquaintances and can help with networking and getting your foot in the door before the interview. These are all amazing ways to prepare for a successful interview.

3) Dress Business Formal.

No matter the culture of the company, the best thing to do is always dress business formal for an interview. I know that interview clothes can be expensive but getting one outfit that looks fantastic will help you win the job.

I’ve seen everything. I’ve seen women trying to pull off mini dresses as interview appropriate, I’ve seen women wearing weird patterned stockings, I’ve seen men wearing borrowed sports coats with khaki pants to an interview. And though some of these outfits you can get away with, you’re risking the chance that the person who’s interviewing is a very formal, traditional professional and will judge you poorly based on your attire. Always better to be overdressed than underdressed.

Women should wear either a pant suit or, preferably, a pencil skirt with a blouse and blazer. For men, all you need to do is invest in a $200 tailored suit and $100 dress shoes and that’ll be your interview outfit for years to come.

4) Prepare Mock Interview Answers And Questions.

The hardest question I’ve ever answered is “So tell me about yourself?” It’s such an open ended question! Where do you begin; how should I tell my story in a way that makes this person want to hire me?

Being able to answer that question and tie it into your experience and who you are is key. Give me questions about my qualifications and my previous experience anytime, it’s the open ended questions that can go anywhere that tend to be the most difficult.

Be prepared for behavioral questions. Things like, “tell me the last time you were challenged at work? Tell me about your weaknesses? Tell me about your strengths? How do you handle disgruntled clients?”

Of course you won’t know all the behavioral questions that could come your way, but preparing yourself to think about how you would react in a situation in relation to getting the job is important for your preparation.

5) What To Do The Day Of.

The day of the interview I like to abstain from coffee. For me, coffee or any caffeine makes me jittery and anxious if I’m already nervous about something. And I’m a nervous Nellie when it comes to interviewing.

I’ll also bring a bottle of water. I tend to get dry mouth when I’m nervous; a lot of people have that sort of reaction to nervousness. Nothing is the more distracting than hearing my own lips smack together while I’m trying to have a conversation, so I bring water to keep myself hydrated and even break up the conversation. Take a sip here and there if I need to think about an answer. I also make sure I have everything I need in terms of my resume. I’ll look it over one more time to make sure it’s flawless and doesn’t need an update.

Finally, I’ll just relax. You’ve already done the hardest part of preparing and if it doesn’t work out then it wasn’t a good fit. No need to torment yourself and cause more anxiety by worrying about how the interview will go. Just getting to the interview process is an accomplishment in itself.

6) Interview Etiquette.

This is really more of the basics of shaking hands when you meet someone, making a lot of eye contact and smiling.

I would also recommend using the interviewers name during the conversation. Using someone’s name frequently helps make the conversation feel familiar, friendlier, and casual.

Having a firm handshake is also important. A strong handshake is the first indicator of confidence. Don’t go with the limp or killer handshake. Practice in advance if you’re unsure of what kind of handshake you have.

7) After The Interview:

Send a thank you note. Recap what was discussed and just remind the interviewer why you’re a fit for the company. Thank you notes are professional, nice and a good reminder for an interviewer who has probably met with half a dozen people already.

Follow up on whether you received the position. Any more than once is considered desperate. If the person wanted to hire you, chances are there would be no need for a follow up. But the follow up is mainly to keep on their radar. If they tell you you haven’t received the job, you should express interest in any of future positions.

Let go. Sometimes you go on an interview, send follow up notes, send thank you notes and you never hear back. It’s hard, especially when it’s your dream job or you’ve been out of work for a while, but it’s important for you to keep a positive attitude. Sometimes that means letting go of negative feelings from past interviews.

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Interviews are nerve-wracking. It’s scary to go in front of a stranger knowing they’re judging you from what you look like, what you sound like to what’s on your resume. At the end of the day, you have to be positive and understand that it’s a numbers game. Eventually if you play your cards right with excellent interview skills, you’ll get a job that’s the right fit and the right pay. These tips will help you increase your odds to help you find the right position.

Check Out My Other Posts

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Tags Interview question and answer, interview help, second interview, phone interview, how to face interview, how to get a great interview

Build A Better Resume & Find A New Job

Build A Better Resume & Find A New Job
Build A Better Resume & Find A New Job

Want A Better Resume? Need Interview Tips To Find A New Job?

I’m currently offering resume review services to help people build a better resume but thought I would share some insights on what has helped me land interviews and land jobs for myself and my friends/family.  These tips are how I get my resume noticed and am able to find a new job.

This post is for people who have sent out resumes and:

  1. Have not gotten even a single response back,
  2. Have not updated their resume recently,
  3. Don’t know how to improve their resumes, and/or
  4. Want a job and don’t know where to start.

Ideally you’ll be well connected and able to to find a job through a friend or family who can recommend you for a position you really want, and win the opportunity.  But if you’re like 90% of the rest of us, then you are not well connected and have no clue how to get your first job. You’ll draft up a resume and send it out in a quick email.

Here are some ways to be successful and increase your chances of an interview.

A) Tailor Your Resume:

You might be applying for any job or a very niche job in your field. The biggest mistake I see is people do is not tailoring their resumes. They just slap all their experience together like, “Look how much I’ve done with my life. Hire me!” Nope, does not work like that. A recruiter or hiring manager might get hundreds of applications and spend 10-30 seconds reviewing applications for a specific job. The less specific your resume is to the position, the longer it will take a hiring manager to discern if your experience fits the role, making it more likely that they will cast your resume to the side.

You should be editing your resume for every single job you apply for. Yes, this is annoying and probably a very time consuming part of the search, but it works.  But this is how you make your resume stand out.

Ex: You previously had experience in retail, ringing up customers and meeting sales goals, keeping an area clean, and answering questions. Now you want to bar-tend and you just took a course in bar-tending. Your resume is tailored to retail, since that’s your previous experience. It would be a mistake to send it out to restaurants as is, because at first glance the hiring managers is going to be like, “this persons experience has nothing to do with the job.” They’re going to think about all the training they’ll need to invest in you, something they DON’T want to do. Rather, you should tailor your resume to show you graduated bar-tending school recently, education should be at the very top as most relevant and the work experience will be specific on what is transferable to bar tending. You’ll focus tailoring your retail experience to show you have customer service skills and sale skills to upsell drinks.

A resume for that purpose might look like this:

Resume 1

B) Keep It Simple

You want to keep your resume as digestible as possible. So that anyone scanning for specific information can find it. Resumes should be no longer than 1 page. You can adjust margins, text size and spacing but 1 page is enough to show your skills.

If you have limited work experience, add in any volunteer work that may be relevant

If you have a lot of experience in a specific area, you’ll want your experience to include ONLY what is both recent and relevant. You’ll want to include maybe 3-4 jobs you’ve had but be very detailed in the responsibilities you’ve had and tailor that to the job you are applying to.

Resumes don’t need to include ALL experience, just relevant experience.  You want your resume to be effective in showcasing your strengths.

If you’ve only worked at 1 company for a majority of your career you might want to break up your resume first by the company you worked for and then by the different roles you may have had in the company.

Resume 2

C) Write A Cover Letter In The Email Of The Job Post Response

This is essential. Too many people skip this step. They send out a generic “Hello, I’m interested in position X and am available X days. Please contact me via email or phone to schedule a visit.”

A message like that pretty much says you put zero to no thought into a message and are just hoping to land a job through mass mailing.  You need your the email message to get you the job and hired.

The body of the email is your opportunity! It’s the first thing a recruiter is going to read. It’s a great way to discuss your passion for the work you do or explain a gap in employment. It can captivate, inspire and get that recruiter to open up the attachment. Then your perfectly tailored resume is going to tell the story of why you should be hired.  Recruiters look at your resume for an average of 6 seconds, you need a better resume that gets you hired.

FYI- Never paste your resume in the body of the email. I’ve seen this before and it’s done to get recruiters to look at the resume right away. However it looks ugly, disorganized and is hard to share with other people if there are other decision makers. Don’t do it.

Hopefully you find this post useful in your job search.  Let me know your feedback and feel free to like, share and follow!

View my other posts:

How To Stay Motivated And Keep Your Goals

How To Get Ahead At Work Without Brown Nosing

What To Do When You Dislike Your Job