What’s going on?
For better or worse, your professional presentation is a whole greater than the sum of its parts. Even when you are doing everything right, there are subtle ways you can undermine your overall presentation without even realizing it.
If your goal is to have a prospective employer take down their job posting immediately after interviewing you, it is important to make sure you are presenting yourself and your resume in a way that leaves the hiring manager wanting more.
Here are 7 ways to make sure you are not selling yourself short in person or on paper.
1. Different Job Description, Different Resume
It is important to tailor your resume and interview toward the job you are interested in. Use terminology you find in the job description to help align your experiences so that they are viewed as extremely relevant.
These changes usually are not major; it is usually something as simple as tweaking your “Customer Service” experience to be a “Client Service” experience. When a hiring manager can make easy associations, this helps them see the transferrable skills you bring to the table as well as your ability to perform the necessary responsibilities of the job.
2. Refresh Your Resume
You may be the best person for the job, but a poorly written resume can affect your chances of getting a job offer. Double-check that your resume follows a logical order, has a professional font, includes bullet points, and is formatted properly. Errors in grammar and spelling, long paragraphs, and life stories should always be avoided.
3. If It’s on Your Resume, It’s Fair Game
When you are interviewing, it is important to know your resume inside and out. If you can’t speak confidently about your employment history, this is a HUGE red flag to employers.
Be sure to use clear and concise statements and provide the necessary details to highlight the contributions you made to your previous employer. The passion you exhibit when speaking about previous roles shows your commitment to the job and your ability to be a team player.
4. Don’t Downplay Your Achievements
An interview is the time to really sell yourself to a potential employer. Highlight your accomplishments and show your interviewer the value that you will bring to their organization. It is, however, easy to go overboard in your interview pitch, so be sure you showcase only the achievements relevant to the role you are interviewing for.
Be authentic when you celebrate yourself, and do not go overboard –you don’t want to undermine your professional successes by sounding overconfident or arrogant. Highlighting your previous achievements will allow your interviewer to understand your qualifications.
5. Make Every Word Count
Using words such as “um”, “maybe”, “possibly” or “perhaps” compromise the integrity of your statement. Most of us use these “filler” words in our day-to-day speech and don’t even realize it. Even though we all have our idiosyncrasies when we speak, it is important to pay attention to what we say and how we say it during an interview; filler words make you sound unsure about your answer and display a lack of confidence.
Take a moment to pause, gather yourself, and think about what you are going to say before you say it. This allows you to speak with conviction and strengthens the validity of your answers.
6. It’s a Conversation, Not an Interrogation
The best interviews are structured like conversations – with questions and answers flowing equally between interviewer and interviewee. Remember, interviews are just as much about an employer selling you on their position as they are about you selling yourself to them.
Be an active listener and engage with the interviewer by asking relevant questions about the position. Where you can, incorporate the information they have provided into your responses when you showcase your skills and experiences.
This is your chance to gain information about the role that was not listed in the job description, so be sure to make the most of it.
7. Say Thank You
When your interview is over, follow up with a letter thanking your interviewer for their time and the opportunity itself. This is your chance to recap the interview and reiterate what skills and experiences you can bring to the table that other candidates can’t.
Make sure you follow a proper letter format with a minimum of three paragraphs. You need to have an introduction, body, and closing to the letter. Be sure to use the terminology and duties you learned in the interview to recap why you are the best fit for the role. Ensure you use proper grammar and spelling to showcase your writing ability.
The Bottom Line
In your job search, confidence is everything. Even if it’s unintentional, a lack of confidence in your professional abilities will prolong the time it takes you to find your dream job. Make sure you are not selling yourself short on the presentation of your professional self both on paper and in person. Do your homework on any job you are interested in and, at every step of the way, consider the qualities in a position that would make a job a good fit for you.