Updated: Mar 22, 2021
Making a good impression is a soiree of professionalism, confidence and a touch of personalization to seal the deal.
"The best time to find a new job is when you already have one." The saying is true, but not everyone has the luxury of hopping to the next best career opportunity when they choose. COVID-19 has forced many companies to downsize and cut back on budgets for agency retainers, which has left millions of people in the lurch. If you've found yourself on the prowl for a job for these reasons, or something entirely different, you know the struggle of endless applications and if you're lucky, a few interviews. Interviewing is never easy no matter how many times you do it, and it turns out that making yourself look good is harder said than done. Here's a few things to help convince interviewers that you're worth their time (and money.)
1. NEVER SELL YOURSELF SHORT
Work experience should never be discounted or diminished just because it wasn't a full-time or long-term position. Similarly, just because past positions aren't directly related to the industry you might be applying for now doesn't mean that the skills you've acquired are any less valuable. For entry level applicants, it's important to showcase soft skills – professionalism, office etiquette, time management, a collaborative spirit, work ethic, maturity, etc. These are transferrable competencies that make you marketable to potential employers gauging your handle on basic but necessary skills.
2. NEVER SELL YOURSELF... TALL?
An impressive resume is a worthwhile goal, but over-exaggerating or just straight up lying usually goes one way – horribly. Be honest about what experience you have, what your job duties were and what you learned. If it feels like you're lacking some "umph" to your resume, take an opportunity to reframe and explain what you did learn, as well as areas you still feel you can grow in. You can mention that those areas of growth are opportunities you see in the position you're applying for because employers look for young people still wanting to learn.
3. WALK THE WALK
How you present yourself says much about you in just a few seconds. Dressing the part – which is usually business professional – is an important step to show potential employers that you take things, and yourself, seriously. It isn't just wardrobe though. Everything from posture and handshake to eye contact and small talk communicates your level of comfortability and confidence in your own skin. Make sure your first impression is a lasting one to distinguish you from other candidates. It's important to mention that all of this is true for virtual interviews as well. Read here for Zoom/Skype interview tips.
4. PREPARE. THEN PREPARE SOME MORE
You never want to sound rehearsed, but it's helpful to practice answering mock questions that you anticipate interviewers will ask. Some those may be the following:
Why did you apply for this job?
What relevant course work have you completed that would help you in this position?
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
What skills do you have that will make you successful here?
What are your strengths? Weaknesses?
Can you describe yourself in five words?
If you're applying to a job in communications, marketing, public or media relations, it may be a good idea to refresh your knowledge of industry jargon: press release, SEO, pitch email, media advisory, b-roll, etc. No one expects you to know everything, but demonstrating relevant knowledge you have of the industry inner workings can set you apart from other candidates.