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How to Prepare

Find out what makes a good resume great and get helpful tips for a successful interview.

Resume

What Makes a Good Resume Great

  • Design: Select a design that showcases your accomplishments based on your industry.
  • Length: Recruiters and hiring managers prefer that resumes be two pages or less.
  • Qualification (or Opening) Summary: Use a qualification summary instead of an objective statement. Recruiters and hiring managers want to see what candidates can bring to their organization, rather than simply stating the position they want.
  • Quantified Accomplishments: A resume should have quantified accomplishments, not simply a reiteration of a job description. Percentages and/or dollar figures with appropriate time frames strengthens your achievements. For example, instead of saying “trained staff on latest accounting software,” show the benefit to the company by saying, “increased productivity 58% within three months of hire by retraining staff on latest accounting software.”
  • Strong Data Prioritization and Organization: The resume needs to be organized into logical sections. Within each section, present your data in reverse chronological order (your last job or school listed first). Prioritize the information based on value to the recruiter and hiring manager. Information pertinent to the targeted position should be showcased first. For example, if a candidate’s education is the most important qualification, present that section before your work history and other qualifications.
  • Non-Relevant and Repetitive Data: An effective resume avoids repetition and inclusion of non-relevant information. For example, only include your hobbies and interests if they are relevant to the job. Personal information such as birth date or marital status are generally only included on some overseas resumes.
  • Language: Use of business language is critical to the professionalism of a resume. Resumes should avoid the use of personal pronouns (e.g., I, my, we) and slang at all times.

Resume Errors to Avoid

  • A Document That Reflects Your Personality: Unless you’re in the performing arts or involved in a creative industry, a resume should err on the conservative side—no designer fonts or unusual designs.
  • An Exhaustive Listing of Everything You’ve Done: Recruiters and hiring managers want recent experience, not all experience. The rule of thumb is to go back 10 years for IT professionals and no more than 15 years for those in other industries. Ideally, a resume should not be longer than two pages.
  • A Document That Tells the Recruiter or Hiring Manager What You Want: Recruiters and hiring managers are interested in what you can bring to their organizations in terms of performance—increasing profits or reducing costs. What you want (your objective) is secondary.
  • A Document That Will Guarantee an Interview or Job Offer: Creating or updating your resume is the beginning of your job search. It cannot guarantee the end result. If your background doesn’t closely match the requirements of the job, you will not be called in for an interview, no matter how well your accomplishments are detailed and presented.
  • A One-Size-Fits-All Document: Certainly, there are basic standards for all resumes, such as page length and data prioritization/organization. However, your background is unique and needs to be presented to showcase your skills, not fit a general template used by everyone.
  • A Document That Pleases Everyone: The only audiences that matter are recruiters and hiring managers. Relatives, friends, and colleagues may have good intentions when offering suggestions, but they are not experts in resume writing.
  • A Document That Is Perfect in Every Way: Recruiters and hiring managers aren’t going to make their interviewing or hiring decisions based on minor variances in word choice. They are looking for skills that you can bring to their organization, not whether you used the word “oversaw” rather than “managed.”

Interview

Tips for a Successful Interview

  • Be prepared. Make sure you’ve researched the organization and the job to which you’re applying. Practice for the interview before you get there, so you’ll feel comfortable with the questions that you’re asked.
  • Respect the interviewer’s time—ensure that you arrive 5-10 minutes early for the interview.
  • Be respectful of everyone you meet—this includes administrative assistants and other office personnel. Negative interactions or poor manners will make their way back to the interviewer.
  • Remember your interviewer’s name, and make sure to repeat it periodically during the interview when addressing the individual.
  • Pay attention to both verbal and non-verbal cues. If the interviewer appears particularly interested in what you’re saying, expand upon it.
  • Ask how your role in the company can positively influence the company’s bottom line.
  • Be friendly, interested, engaged, and confident—but not arrogant.
  • At the end of the interview, thank the interviewer for their time and ask when you might expect a follow-up communication.
  • When the interview is ending, close by reemphasizing your qualifications and why you are a good fit for the job.
  • Don’t forget to send a thank you note!

Avoid These Common Interview Missteps

  • Be confident, not arrogant. Don’t behave as if the job is already yours.
  • Never interrupt or talk over the interviewer.
  • Refrain from asking about salary or benefits unless it is brought up by the interviewer.
  • Don’t speak poorly of your current or former employers.
  • Don’t mistake an interviewer’s politeness for more than it is. Remain professional and don’t be too familiar.
  • Don’t bring up anything negative about the company you’re interviewing with, even if they’ve gotten bad press.
  • Use appropriate English and business language. Avoid slang.
  • Don’t let your body language (e.g., squirming in your seat) give away the fact that you’re nervous. Try to calm down and focus on your attributes.
  • Don’t appear desperate for the position, no matter how much you want it.
  • Don’t dwell on your deficiencies—we all have them. Concentrate on your strengths and convey them to the interviewer.