Social Media Profiles and the Interview

A Reference for Interviewers and Interviewees

Tweeting, sharing, posting, tagging. If you’re like most Americans today, chances are these small behaviors make up a large part of your Internet time. Social media has become an influential and pivotal part of everyday life. It is helping people stay connected in ways never before thought of. It’s helping people share ideas, find new companies to support and, well, it’s also helping people to research other people.

More and more hiring managers are using the power of Google (or other search engines) to find out about potential candidates. The same goes for the flip side, as well, as many job seekers are turning to social media to research the company, its manager and potential hiring managers who will be conducting the interview.

Sounds like a convenient little tool, right? Right. It’s also potentially detrimental, especially to the job seeker. According to CareerBuilder, 43% of hiring managers have taken a candidate out of the running for a job due to social media. Here are the top reasons:

  • Inappropriate photos

○      Racy photos

○      Photos of drug use, abuse of a person or animal, or any other illegal activity

  • Posts or tweets about drinking or drug use
  • Speaking poorly against previous employers
  • Poor communication (think grammar and spelling)
  • Bigotry
  • Lying about qualifications

You may be lucky, though, especially if you’re social-media self is as professional and qualified as your interview self. Here are some tips for your public social media profiles during the job-seeking process:

  • Keep your profile pictures tasteful
  • Fill out your personal information in a professional or tasteful manner
  • Show support to things you love which would also be interesting to a hiring manager
  • Check your spelling and grammar
  • Update your professional qualifications

Having at least one public profile is a great way to show off your skills, some of your hobbies and your achievements. In addition, it’s a great way to give interviewers a little taste of who you are prior to the interview which can help break the ice and offer a bit of help if the interviewer likes what she sees on your profile.

However, like many of us, social media can get out of hand and you may use it more for connecting with people who share the same out-of-work hobbies as you. If you have items on a social media account that you think may be seen as offensive by anyone, adjust your privacy settings. Once it’s been seen by the hiring manager, chances are it will be difficult for them to unsee during the interview.

Outlining and Creating the Backbone for Your Resume

Whether you’re new to the job search game or you’ve been in it for so long you could be considered a professional job seeker, chances are you’ve seen dozens of resume templates, guidelines, things to avoid and things to add. You may not need to tweak your resume, but it may be the thing holding you back from landing an interview for that huge career change you’re so desperately wanting.

Before you write out your resume, or rewrite it, outline what information you need to put on there so that you don’t miss anything. The outline will serve as the backbone for your resume. It will help you lay everything out correctly while giving you a structure and template to work from. Write out which sections you want on your resume. Contact information, experience, education, relevant skills, awards and certifications are common resume sections worth mentioning, but only if you have relevant information to put in each. For example, if you never attended college, don’t put an education section on your resume.

After you’ve written out which sections you want on your resume, start writing down the information, gathering the dates for the information and selecting what you want or don’t want your potential interviewer to see (Tip: Never lie about anything on your resume. If there’s something you want to withhold from your first contact at the company, choose wisely what you leave off of your resume).

Once you have everything written out, it’s time to situate the information in a professional, concise manner. Headline your sections with appropriate section titles and create your resume so that it looks great and is easily readable. Your contact information should be somewhere at the top, either center or offset depending on the overall look of your resume. After that, your sections don’t necessarily have a firm order, order them to your liking and highlight the strongest sections.

While creating an outline may seem like a pointless step, it can help you sort out which details you want on your resume and what to leave out. The outline can also help you decide which way to organize your resume. If your resume has been falling flat, it may be worth a shot to create a new outline and rewrite your resume.

Mistake-Proofing Your Resume

In a competitive job market — much like so many are experiencing now, an outstanding resume can mean the difference between getting a call for an interview or it going to the next resume in the pile. Making your resume stand out among the stack of dozens, hundreds or, in some cases, thousands of resumes the employer receives is almost always a positive thing, unless, of course, it’s sticking out for the wrong reasons.

A great resume always includes contact information, including your first and last names, phone number and a professional-sounding email address. Throughout the resume, dates are listed as well as pertinent skills.

Spell Check

Although it may seem redundant in the time of technology we live in, spell check is more than necessary on your resume and you should always check it through a dedicated spell check application and on your own. After all, almost nothing will stick out to a potential employer than misspelled words. You don’t want to say a “Bachelorette” when you mean to write “Baccalaureate” in your education section. Within the same line of thought is to always spell out your words unless you’re using widely accepted or industry-specific acronyms or abbreviations. Although “text speak” may be acceptable on social media platforms and, well, texting, it’s not acceptable on your resume.

Keep it Relevant

Your resume should be relevant to the position — and nothing else. Even if you have a “Skills” section, the skills you list should offer support to the position. Explain — briefly — what a skill will offer to the position if the relevance doesn’t automatically present itself.

Keeping the information on your resume relevant also means not offering personal information, particularly involving your personal life. Your potential interviewer may ask certain questions about your personal life to get to know you during an interview, and you should keep it at that.

In this same line of thinking, your resume should be tailored to the position you’re applying for. During these economic times and this competitive job market, many people are applying to several different positions at the same time. If you’re one of these people, making several resumes tailored to each industry is your best bet.

Deciding What to Exclude

Your resume should always be honest — never lie. That being said however, you may choose to exclude certain work experiences or other experiences. The resume should highlight your skills and what you will offer to the company. In essence, your resume is a sales brochure for you. A good resume gets you noticed, a great resume gets your foot in the door for an interview.

Exclude very short past work experiences and highlight work experiences that pertain directly to your potential position. If none of your past work experiences are in the same industry as the position you’re applying to, offer your best work experiences and the skills you gained that will pertain to the position.

Conclusion

Having your resume stand out is a requirement, but having it stand out because you consistently misspelled words or mentioned personal information instead of skills can cost you the interview.

The Mentality of a Great Interview: 10 Tips

This post was originally seen on The Personal Branding Blog.

Go into every interview with the end-goal of receiving a job offer. Make it your decision as to whether you want to work for the company rather than letting the company determine whether you are a fit.

While interviewing is not always easy, there are certain tricks which can be implemented to increase one’s odds of getting the offer and making the hiring manager confident that you are the right applicant. Here are 10 ways to do so:

1. Positive Energy – People are attracted to those who display positive energy, are upbeat and who are optimistic about their career outlook.

One of the biggest tricks to interviewing is sounding enthusiastic about the position and, by doing so reassuring the interviewer that you are interested in the job and are ready to contribute to their team effort.

2. Set firm goals – The best companies set firm goals and do everything possible to obtain them. As a job seeker, you should be no different.

Prior to interviewing, take the time to write down where you want to be in 1 year, 3 years and 5 years. Be specific and map out a step by step plan to ensure that you get there. If we don’t know where we are going, our overall achievements are going to end up a fraction of what they could be. Be focused and tenacious in your goals and let those ambitions be heard by the hiring company.

3. Remember it’s what you can do for the employer – The best way to sell is to talk in terms of what the other person wants.

Take the time to think about what benefits and skills you bring to the table. Read over the job description and envision the concerns and needs of that employer.

By speaking about how you can deliver the desired results, you are more likely to get an offer and, when you do you have more leverage negotiating the salary you want. In essence, give the employer what they want and you will get everything you need.

4. Be approachable and likable – When interviewing, the hiring manager is going to look for intangibles such as whether you are going to fit in with the corporate culture a.k.a. will you get along with the employees and enjoy working there.

The best way to make the interviewer confident that you’ll fit in is to be approachable and likable throughout the interviewing process. Don’t play hard to get, remain easy going and connect with the individual on a personal basis. Remember to smile.

5. Focus – If we are focused 100% on an interview, psychologically we can’t be nervous, tense or judgmental of ourselves. The best conversations occur when both parties are fully engaged and this happens when everyone is focused on only the interview and nothing else.

Leave everything unrelated outside of the room and if you find yourself distracted or getting nervous the simple remedy is to put your mind at ease listening only to what the interviewer is saying rather than what you are telling yourself.

6. Strong mentality – Remember to always approach the interview with fearlessness, optimism and confidence. Don’t be afraid of failure. Rather be honest and authentic; it’s the most anyone can ask of you.

7. Never get discouraged during tough interviews – The best interviewers are going to ask you tough questions. Never take it personally, rather consider it due diligence on the end of the interviewer and be thankful that you are speaking with a hiring manager who knows what they are doing.

When we think upbeat thoughts, the positive energy allows us to focus and come across more upbeat and engaging. If you find your answers slipping, quickly pick yourself up. Everyone gets discouraged; though, when we begin to take difficult interviewing questions as due diligence as opposed to a personal knock, we are more apt to be successful.

8. Be determined to get the job – Luck favors those who are determined to reach a specific goal. As a job seeker, you should have a focus and drive to ace every interview that you go on making sure to leave multiple positive impressions on employees throughout the company.

You should expect to win. When we are focused, driven and expecting success, it comes.

9. Ask the right questions in the right manner – When you ask questions, don’t come across as skeptical or prying, rather ask the questions because you want the information. People don’t like hidden agendas and interviewers are no different. Prior to interviewing, formulate some interviewing questions that you are comfortable with and deliver those inquiries in a non-assuming, intelligent manner.

10. Focus on the positive aspects of the position – Regardless of pay, title or industry, there are both positive and negative aspects to any position. It’s your choice what you focus your attention on and it’s a lot more productive to hone in on the things you enjoy about the job rather than letting the downsides cloud your judgement and outlook.

Take the time to write the benefits of working at the company on a sheet of paper. Everyone likes a sincere compliment and it never hurts to convey those points of interest to the hiring manager.

In the End

You should look at the interviewing process as enjoyable rather than considering it a chore. Think positively, stay focused, follow your intuition and you’re bound to get the position that you want.

Author:

Ken Sundheim is the CEO of KAS Placement, an executive search firm specializing in sales and marketing recruitment for companies of all sizes from around the world. Among others, Ken’s recruitment and job search articles have appeared in the WSJ, AOL, Business Insider, Chicago Tribune and Forbes.

Preparing to Succeed in Your Job Interviews

This post was originally seen on Career Rocketeer and was written by Harry Urschel.

While most people know they ought to prepare before going to a job interview, very few do it well, or take the time to do it thoroughly. Why is it so important, and how can you prepare better? Here are some observations and some ideas…

Somebody will, make sure it’s you! In a competitive job market, employers generally have an opportunity to interview more potential candidates to find the one they think will be the best match. Where they might otherwise interview 2 or 3 candidates, they may now be interviewing 5 to 10. In that group, it’s highly likely that at least one person will be well prepared, and be able to articulate their match to the job and knowledge of the organization better than the others. If you know it’s likely you will be competing against someone that has done their homework and practice, be sure you do as well to have a better chance.

Preparation says something about you. When it’s clear that you went above and beyond the other candidates in doing your research, learning how to address questions well, and presenting yourself professionally, it’s an indicator you will likely perform well in the position as well. Someone that takes the extra initiative to succeed in an interview, is also more likely to take extra initiative on the job. That’s attractive to any employer.

Preparation is more than reading the company website. While it’s good to know what the company says about themselves on their own website, that’s only the minimum amount of work that most candidates will do.

  • Researching additional information you might find online is important as well. Exploring them through Google, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, finance sites, and other valuable online resources.
  • Networking and gaining some knowledge about the company’s culture, track record, and individual jobs is better yet.
  • Learning something about the people you will interview is very helpful. Using LinkedIn, or Googling them may help you see where they went to school, their career history, common people you may each know, or awards or other professional recognition they may have received.
  • Analyzing their job description to determine their most important requirements and determining how to best convey your most relevant experience and knowledge.
  • Deducing the most likely areas of your background they will be exploring and practicing how to best articulate answers to their most likely questions.
  • Preparing a long list of insightful questions about the company, their culture, the responsibilities of the position, and their performance expectations. Have many more questions prepared than you will be able to ask, so that based on the things already discussed, you can pick the most relevant questions to ask.

Most people do their preparation by only reviewing the organizations website, and vaguely thinking about how they might address various questions that might arise. They think… “If I’m asked about _______, I’ll talk about _______” …without practicing specific answers. The result usually is that they ramble endlessly in their answers until they think they’ve covered it all.

While some people can speak pretty well “off the cuff”, even they will be much better if they write out their answers in advance and practice them. Writing out answers in advance causes you to put answers in complete sentences, and be able to articulate them more concisely. It’s not necessary to memorize the answer word for word. However, the process of writing it out in the first place will enable you to articulate it much better. The vast majority of candidates never do it.

You will stand out if you do!

It’s a competitive job market. Don’t take the opportunity to interview for a position too lightly. Determine you will be one of the few that will be well prepared and make the best impression, rather than one of the majority that fumble through!

***

Harry Urschel has over 20 years experience as a technology recruiter in Minnesota. He currently operates as e-Executives, writes a blog for Job Seekers called The Wise Job Search, and can be found on Twitter as @eExecutives.