Phone Interview Jitters

Dear Resume Survis Lady,

I FINALLY got a call from a company I have always wanted to work for.  I’m scheduled for a phone interview next week.  I’m really nervous and afraid I am going to mess up the interview.  How can I make sure that I am prepared for the interview? 

Congratulations on your interview!  Getting a call from a company you’ve submitted your resume to for a position that you’re excited about is a really big deal.  With the current state of the economy, there are a lot of applicants applying to positions and very few that are being hired (unless you’re in the engineering field.  If you’re wondering what field is a good field to get in to, ENGINEERING!!!).  I can understand why you’d be nervous, excited and a bit scare at the prospect of being able to show how your skills align with what the company is looking for, put your best foot forward and try to convince them why they need to bring you in for a face to face interview.  Sound daunting? 

 

Enough said about that, no need to make you any more scared.  What should you do to help you be prepared for the phone interview?  I like to think of interviews like tests.   Remember back in high school or college when you had a big test coming up so you would try to cram everything you could in to your brain to try to remember for the test?  Preparing for a college exam is a lot like preparing for an interview.  You’re trying to remember all the projects you’ve worked on, the technology you’ve been exposed to, the experience you’ve had.   Now the good news in all of this is that you’re first interview is a phone interview, kind of like an open book test.  The person who’s conducting the interview could care less if you have “cheat sheets” in front of you or not.  And cheat sheets are the way to go! 

 

So, it’s an open book test, you’re allowed to have cheat sheets, but what do you need on the cheat sheets?  There are a few different things that you’ll want to research and have available to you at your fingertips for your interview:

 

1.                               Make sure you’ve gone to the company’s website and poked around.  Know about the company’s history and why you would want to work for the company.  Chances are you will be asked a question something similar to “why do you want to work for xyz company?” or “what are you looking for in your next position?” Bingo…you’ll be able to talk about things within the company that align with your goals and it will show you took the time to do some research

2.                               Read through the job description and take notes.  If you’ve read my previous posts, you know how important keywords are.  You thought that was just for your resume!  Keywords come back for the interview as well.  Write down from the job description some of the key things they are looking for.  It could be someone with project management experience in excess of $xxx amount or whatever it is.  Right down what they’re looking for and also think about what you’ve done and have an example ready to talk about.  In the example above using the project management experience, you would want to talk about what the project was, the budget and what your individual role was within the project.

3.                               Have examples ready that go over things that you’ve done where you’ve encountered challenges and were able to overcome them, turn what could have been a negative into a positive. 

4.                               Relax

 

Most importantly, you are going to want to be yourself over the phone.  A lot of the time the initial phone interview you have will be with someone from HR (Human Resources) who may not be all that familiar with the position.  In that case, it will not be a real “position specific” interview as much as “how do you communicate over the phone” and “do you meet the minimum qualifications for the position.”

 

Good luck, let me know how it turns out!

 

Have a question for Resume Survis Lady?  Leave a comment or send her an email at: resumesurvislady@gmail.com

Keywords….To Add or Not to Add

Dear Resume Survis Lady,

It’s been a long time since I’ve needed to update my resume and I’m sure there have been a lot of changes with how to format a resume and what you need to put on it.  I want to maximize the number of times my resume is reviewed and I’ve heard adding keywords are the way to do it.  What are keywords and how do I incorporate them into my resume? 

Ahhh….keywords!  I love keywords!  First of all let me start by explaining what keywords are for those who may not know.  Most resumes are now submitted and stored electronically.  This would include resumes that you upload to a job board such as CareerBuilder or Monster or a profile that you have online on a site such as LinkedIn.  For most positions you apply to, you will also be applying online through what is known as a company’s “Applicant Tracking System” or ATS for short.  This would be when you visit a company’s career website and apply to a position that is listed on their site.  All electronic databases have the ability to search the resumes stored through entering keywords or search strings.  Think of it like a search engine such as Google.  If you go to the Google home page to search for a specific product or specific information, you would enter your search string of keywords and hit enter to see your results.  It’s the same with electronic resume banks.  A potential employer can use a search feature to enter specific keywords of things they are looking for.  This could be something like CPM (Certified Purchasing Manager) to PE (Plant Engineer) to Automation experience, etc. 

So, should you use keywords in your resume?  ABSOLUTELY!  One of the biggest mistakes I see with resumes that are not professionally written is the absence of keywords.  A great example of this is when you list your employment history.  Do you have the industry listed or what each company does?  This is an area that is often overlooked when writing a resume.  If a recruiter is looking for someone that has experience in the “specialty chemical” arena, they will often use keywords like: Chem, specialty chemical, specialty chem, chemical.  If you do not have it listed in your resume, your resume will not be pulled back.

There are different ways that you can include keywords into your resume.  The first would be to include them in the body of your resume as you are writing it.  Enter a short “blurb” about the company after you list it on your resume such as:

XYZ Company, Milwaukee, WI                                                                                                                                                            4/2006-11/2010

XYZ Company is a Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) company known as a global pioneer of innovative and uniquely effective talent sourcing and strategy for its clients.

 You can also create a keyword section at the bottom of your resume where you can list in succession all the keywords that are not already listed in your resume:

What has been your experience with keywords?

LinkedIn Recommendations On Resumes???

Dear RSL,

I use LinkedIn for my professional networking and have a number of colleagues both current and past that have written recommendations that are visible on my profile.  Now that I am out job searching I would like to share those recommendations with potential employers.  Is it okay to add my LinkedIn recommendations on my resume?

First of all, congratulations on the recommendations!  I know it can sometimes be difficult to get co-workers and managers to write recommendations so you must be doing such a great job that they want to shout it from the rooftops.  After all, I received 3 requests for recommendations in the last week.  Of course they were from people I didn’t know and I will never ever write a recommendation for someone I have never worked with and do not personally know.  But I digress.  You asked about including LinkedIn recommendations on your resume.  You can probably ascertain by my introduction that I do not recommend it.

While there might be some out there that do not agree with me and I’d like to hear your reasons if you do disagree; I don’t think that a resume is the place for these recommendations.  As I mentioned above, I have received requests for recommendations  from people who I have never met.  How many other people have received the same requests?  As a recruiter or hiring manager, while I might look at the recommendations, they would not sway me one way or the other as to if I was going to move forward with the candidate. I would still require a list of professional references that I could call and talk to regarding the candidate’s qualifications, previous work history, etc.  Perhaps I’m “old school” but I like to talk to the references and see what information I can pull out of them to make sure I am making the best hiring decision.

So, back to the LinkedIn recommendations and what should you do with them.  I have two recommendations for you.  The first recommendation would be to include your LinkedIn address on your resume.  This allows the potential employer to go to your profile and look at not only your recommendations that you have listed, but also see who you’ve recommended, what groups you belong to and compare the work history on your resume to what you have listed in your profile.   The second recommendation that I have is if you absolutely feel a need to share your recommendations with your potential employer, put them together in an attractive format separate from your resume and if the occasion arises during an on-site interview you can pull out the list and share some of the recommendations with your interviewer.

LinkedIn is a great networking tool that should provide a synopsis of your professional history.  Having recommendations on your LinkedIn profile can help to build credibility.  I utilize it extensively to network and recruit candidates.  But while I look at the recommendations occasionally, I always have in the back of my mind the emails from those requesting that I write a recommendation for them without ever having met them.  Bottom line; leave the recommendations on LinkedIn where they belong, leave the resume to showcase your talents and successes to land you an interview.

Resume Survis Lady is written by Billye Survis. To have your resume or job search questions answered by Resume Survis Lady, send your questions to: resumesurvislady@gmail.com
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