As labor market demands continue changing, redesigned job skills are working their way to the top of employers' desired skill sets for employees.
With nearly 14 million Americans currently looking for work, giving your resume an update has never sounded better! We have cultivated a list of the most coveted and in-demand job skills you should focus on developing as you prepare for a changing COVID influenced world.
Employers look for employees who possess both hard and soft skills. Hard skills are those that involve technical knowledge, while soft skills deal with personality traits.
So you've seized an opportunity: you spotted a job you want, and you've taken the initiative. You wrote a killer cover letter, brushed up your resume and captured the attention of a potential employer. Congratulations, you proactive person, you!
Now comes the real test: the interview. In some respects, the interview process is a mutual feeling-out process. It's an opportunity for both the candidate and the interviewer to decide if the job is a good fit. But it's also a chance to showcase your real, on-the-job assets from your communication and research skills to your ability to think on your feet.
"The interview is an elimination process," Dr. Thomas J. Denham, a career counselor at Careers in Transition LLC, tells Monster.com. "The employer is trying to weed out those who are not the most worthy of the position."
In a way, the interview is an oral test—if you ace it, you will set yourself apart from the other candidates, but if you don't do your homework, you could find your resume in the rejection pile. Of course, there's no bulletproof way to know precisely which questions a potential employer will throw at you in the interview, but there are some ubiquitous (and tricky) ones you should prepare for. Arming yourself with some sharp answers ahead of time will give you the confidence to conquer any other questions that come your way. To help, we rounded up five eternal interview questions, along with expert advice on how to answer them. Study up, then go forth and land that job.
Tell me about yourself
This may seem like a softball question, but its vagueness can trip you up. Where do you start? What do they want to know beyond your resume? How do you sum up your experience without rambling on and on? Okay, deep breath.
Career coach Hallie Crawford suggests this question is merely an opportunity for potential employers to get to know a little more about you beyond your CV. "Keep in mind that they may have looked you up online and have your cover letter, so do your best not to just repeat something they have already read about you," she tells Fast Company. "Instead, is there a background story about how you got into your industry? Can you explain your unique selling proposition—why you are unique in your industry? Or, you could explain your top three values and why they are important to you."
It's important to anticipate the kind of information your interviewer is looking for, specifically, how your past experience and current interests relate to the position he or she is looking to fill.
"Think about the context from which the interviewer is asking the question, which is to say, you should tailor your answer to the particular role you want," AJ Aronstein, associate dean at Barnard College's Beyond Barnard tells Refinery29. "Tell them what you've done up to this point that makes you a good fit for the position and that should take no more than about 45 seconds to a minute." Short, sweet and to the point, got it?
Why Should We Hire You?
To prep for this question, you need to go back to the original job posting and reread the list of requirements. Find which ones reflect your skill set and prepare to elaborate with concrete examples from your past experiences.
The experts at job hub Indeed.com suggest throwing out some numbers whenever possible to support your case. "For example, if you're applying for a job as an accountant at a company that is looking for someone to streamline processes, you might explain that at your previous company, you implemented a new process for expense accounts that reduced time-to-reimbursement by 25%."
Once you've quantified your abilities, finish off by qualifying them. Is there a personal or professional asset you can bring to this role that others might not? Maybe it's your travels abroad, your volunteer experience, or your managerial success in your last job. Whatever it is, find something in your past that speaks to the job's primary requirements, and use it to suggest you're more than a qualified candidate, but a person who can bring added value to the company.
If you're stuck on what career aspect to highlight, job coach Thomas J. Denham suggests picking three to five notable successes listed on your resume and using them as bullet points in your response. "The notion is that past performance is always the best predictor of future performance," Denham tells Monster.com.
What Are Your Weaknesses?
Oh, the trickiest of trick questions. If you're too honest, you'll incriminate yourself. If you're inauthentic, you'll lose your audience. It's all about finding that sweet spot between vulnerability and strength. Nobody's perfect, we all make mistakes and interviewers know that. What they really want to see is your ability to assess your own performance, and turn potential weaknesses into strengths on the job.
In her book, 301 Answers to Tough Interview Questions, author Vicky Oliver provides one example of how to respond.
"I am extremely impatient. I expect my employees to prove themselves on the very first assignment. If they fail, my tendency is to stop delegating to them and start doing everything myself. To compensate for my own weakness, however, I have started to really prep my people on exactly what will be expected of them."
If you're still at a loss for what to say, Indeed.com has created a formula for answering this question that turns any stated negative into a positive. "First, state your weakness. Second, add additional context and a specific example or story of how this trait has emerged in your professional life. That context will give potential employers insight into your level of self-awareness and commitment to professional growth."
Why Did You Leave Your Last Job?
Maybe you had a bad experience at your last job, maybe you were laid off, or maybe you're still stuck in the worst job ever. Whatever the reason, you can be honest without being negative. "Remember that you want to avoid bashing your current or past employer and the company," Crawford tells Fast Company. "This question is designed to find out why you are looking for a new job. Instead of focusing on them, focus on you. Are you looking for more career growth than what is offered where you currently work? Or a more challenging position?"
Focus on the positive aspects of your last job, or how your role or the company inspired you to pursue greater opportunities like this one. (Flattery will get you everywhere.)
What are your salary requirements?
This question is a doozy. On the one hand, it's a sign the interview is going well—you're being taken seriously as a candidate and your interviewer is ready to talk rates. On the other hand, the stakes just got higher. If you haven't done your salary research, you could low-ball yourself or price yourself out of a position you really want. Moreover, you don't even know what range they're offering. So what do you do when an interviewer tosses you the salary question? Toss it back.
"The first person who mentions a number loses when it comes to negotiations," career coach Bianca J. Jackson tells the Washington Post. "So I would try to get a number from them first. Every position is budgeted, so I would flip the question back onto them: 'What have you budgeted for the role?'"
Even if you don't get a concrete response, you've proven yourself a shrewd negotiator who is intrigued by what the company can offer but in no way desperate. Of course, if you're pressed to provide a salary range, don't undersell yourself. Lean towards the higher end of your salary requirements, while still ensuring your potential employer that you're flexible because the job itself is so enticing.
The bottom line when prepping for a job interview is to do your homework. Study the job posting, tailor your experiences and assets to their hiring needs and sell yourself with confidence. If you can do all that, you'll be ready for any question that comes your way.
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Chances are up to know you've only interviewed for service or retail industry jobs that you've gotten right on the spot. Or your mom used some pretty sketchy nepotism to secure you that receptionist gig one summer — shhh, no one has to know.
But now it's onto the real world — making connections, interviewing well and making sure you're decently presentable are all new things you'll need to consider. Getting those crucial internships or fellowships will help you secure a much coveted spot in your industry
Mommy and daddy aren't going to hold your hand forever so you'll need some help to get going — here are seven interviewing tips to aid you and your peers.
1. Cater your resume to each job description
This probably sounds super tedious but if you can write a personalized cover letter for each job, you can alter your resume a bit too. Pay attention to specific skills, qualities and experience highlighted within the job description and make sure these appear first on your resume. And if you've cut out some related experience to shorten your resume, consider swapping them in for something that might not be as essential.
2. Prepare personal examples or anecdotes of key assets
If a job description emphasises leadership and teamwork, be ready to list a couple of personal examples that showcase these traits. Tell your interviewer about that one time you took charge on a group project or how you're so organized you keep two agendas — something related and quirky will definitely obtain and keep attention.
3. Show dedication and interest
If you're not enthusiastic about the job, why would they hire you? Even if you just need to pay the rent this summer, you can't let them know that's the only thing that motivates you. Pay attention to the goals and issues of the company and relate them to your own goals — this way, your interviewer will know you're going to put your 100% in.
4. Use appropriate body language
There's nothing I hate more than a weak handshake — it's like gripping a limp chicken that also has a weak personality and shows hesitancy. Your other body language will tell stories, too — slouching in your seat gives off unprofessionalism and not making eye contact will make you seem doubtful and unconfident. Be firm and strong minded in your actions — it'll definitely reflect a more secure and stable identity.
5. Prepare your own questions
At the end of every interview, they'll definitely ask you if you have any questions for them or the company. Even if you don't — ask. Take away something you heard from the interview or something you read online and form an intelligent question — it'll show that you were paying attention and expressing concern for the position.
6. Write thank you notes
Email a thank you note as soon as you get home or finish the interview — not only will they have a physical reminder of the interview, but it's also just common courtesy. Be sure to include any notable information from the interview and summarize again why you'd be a good match for this job.
Plus, you'll have another line of communication with them in case you have any follow up questions.
7. Practice makes perfect
It might seem silly to roleplay an interview, but you'll definitely be more comfortable once you do. Utilize your college's career services and set up a mock interview with an advisor or even just grab a friend. Google some common interview questions to answer and you should be all set.
So there you go — these tips will definitely not steer you wrong, but there are definitely many more things you can do to ensure the job. Practice and experience really does make perfect so the best thing to do is to dive right in.
We are always being told what to include on our resume, but there are things we ought to leave off as well. More is sometimes just more - not necessarily useful, and some items can be exhibited more clearly and concisely, as well as projected more professionally.
As per The Balance, "Recruiters can take as little as thirty seconds to conduct an initial review of your resume. You should avoid cluttering your document with unnecessary information which might make it harder for the employer to find the most qualifying elements of your background."
Redo your resume by letting go of fillers and wording that doesn't represent the best version of yourself and your accomplishments. Potential employers will be impressed with you before they even meet you in person!
Many resumes start off with an objective, which usually consists of a generalized statement that nearly anyone would agree is sensible, but not specific. "I'm seeking to grow with your company," or "I will use my education and experience to excel at a new position," are not particularly useful or give any indication of how you'll add value to the business.
The Muse suggests an alternative. "Craft an executive summary or 'Who I Am' section that showcases your overarching value proposition and speaks directly to the stuff you know the target audience is going to care the most about. This is your chance to make it clear you're a strong fit."
This summary of qualifications, "encompasses your skills, abilities, professional expertise, and what makes you most suitable for the position," as per The Balance.
Stick to the facts of what you have done thus far using simple and straightforward language that gets the point across clearly. Now is not the time to show off your broad vocabulary or former spelling bee champ internal word database. All this will do is become a distraction, making your resume harder to read, not to mention, borderline obnoxious.
According to The Muse, "Using non-conversational words doesn't make you look smart; it makes you look like someone who spends too much time in a thesaurus."
Let your background speak for itself. If you need to adorn your experiences with "bells and whistles," perhaps you need to rework how you layout your past responsibilities, so they reflect your work ethic and valuable skills and experience.
Depending upon how long you have been in the workforce, there may not be a need to list every job you've ever had. If you are applying for a senior-level position, those two months of scooping ice cream the summer after college aren't going to sweeten the deal.
According to U.S. News & World Report, "Short-term jobs raise red flags for hiring managers, who will wonder if you were fired, couldn't do the work, or had trouble getting along with co-workers. Plus, a few months on a job won't typically be useful in showing any real accomplishments or advancement anyway."
The Muse adds, "Unless something you did more than 12-15 years ago is vital for your target audience to know about, you don't need to list the entry-level job or internship you held in 1994. It's totally OK to leave some of the life history off."
While a resume is all about you, it must be related to work experience specifically. This is not your mini-autobiography. Not only can adding non-professional info be "TMI," but it may make your resume super-long and difficult to peruse.
For instance, as Inc. suggests, "Don't list hobbies on your resume--save these for interview conversation. And any awards you list should be from community service or previous work." Even more importantly, "Don't include things like date of birth, ethnicity, religious affiliations (unless the job you're going for is somehow related), reasons for leaving your previous job, specific street addresses, or phone numbers of previous employers."
Additionally, "Unless you're applying for a job as a model or actor, photos of yourself have no place on your resume. Since your appearance has nothing to do with your ability to do the job, including a photo comes across as naive and unprofessional," notes U.S. News & World Report. The interviewer will have plenty of time to see your face if you are asked to meet in person.
Silly/Unprofessional Email Address
If you still have that same email account from high school or college made up from a nickname or something silly, stupid, or scandalous, now's the time to get a brand new professional email address. Start things off on the right foot without embarrassment or being passed over altogether.
As Inc. recommends, "email@example.com," may have been fun to use at one point in your life, but in the professional world, it's a miss.
And perhaps an even worse idea is to use an email address from your current place of employment, as noted by The Muse. "Nothing says, 'I job search on company time' quite like using your current work email address on a resume. Unless you own the company, it's poor form to run your job search through your company's email system."
If you still think your resume can use some fine-tuning and refreshing, let TopResume take care of your resume for you. Get a free expert review, career advice, or have them rewrite your resume for you. TopResume guarantees they will get you two times more job interviews within 60 days by signing up with one of their resume packages.
Revamp that resume and get the job you're seeking. Good luck!