As technology continues to become increasingly advanced, more companies are relying on video conferencing software to set up interviews with potential hires. A video interview makes it possible to converse with candidates who are too far away to conveniently interview in person, and it also saves the company time. If a potential employer asks to set up a video interview, prepare for it the same way you would if you were going in to interview in person. This means you should still research the company beforehand, dress professionally and practice answering commonly asked interview questions. The only difference is that you won't actually be in the same room as the person interviewing you. However, there are a few things you can do to make sure you convey professionalism from afar. Here are four tips to help you prepare for a video interview:
1. Double check your technology
Make sure that whatever software or program you're using works properly before the interview starts. Close all other open windows and Web browsers on your computer to make sure your device can stand up to the demands of video conferencing. If you are struggling to figure out the technology, email someone from the company as far in advance of the interview as possible and have them walk you through the program. This will demonstrate initiative and preparation.
2. Look at the camera
It's natural when video conferencing to look at the people on the screen. Keep in mind that the camera is usually located above the screen of your computer. Look at the camera so there is eye contact between you and the interviewer(s) on the other end.
3. Dress appropriately
In the specific case of video interviews, some applicants decide to only dress up above the waist, because both parties are usually sitting and a person's pants go unseen. However, if you have to get up for any reason during the interview, and are wearing pajama pants or jeans, it will look unprofessional and likely leave interviewers looking for other candidates. Dress the exact same way you would if you were going into the company's offices to avoid this embarrassing faux pas.
4. Be aware of the background
When you're setting up your camera and interview area, look around to make sure your surroundings look professional. Clean off the table at which you are sitting and be aware of what is visible behind you during the interview. Remove anything that could be viewed as unprofessional.
Though they might seem intimidating, group interviews have become a regular part of the job hunt. The style of interview usually takes place with 5 to 10 other applicants, and has become widely adopted by employers as a way to save time and test candidates on their social abilities. The fact is with dozens, if not hundreds, of applicants vying for a position, most employers need a way to cut some of the time and costs from the process of filling the position. Furthermore, a group interview gives employers a chance to see how a candidate interacts amongst colleagues. Make a group interview your time to shine. Rather than worry about winning against the other job seekers in the room, focus on demonstrating tangible skills such as teamwork, leadership and creativity to your potential employer. Therefore, make a group interview about collaboration, not competition. Here are several tips for standing out during a group interview:
Prepare an introduction
Odds are you'll have the opportunity to introduce yourself to the hiring manager and the rest of the group. Rather than scrambling to come up with an introduction, plan out and practice your introduction to a group audience. Consider what basic information others would like to know about you and also several facts that make you unique. However, be careful not to take up too much time, as the rest of the group will also need to introduce themselves. When practicing, make sure your introduction is under one minute long.
Research the company
This doesn't just apply to group interviews, but every professional meeting you attend. If you know a lot about the role for which you are interviewing, it will help you stand out in a crowded room. Showcase your knowledge of the company articulately without seeming like you're trying to outdo other candidates. Start your research on the company's website, and then expand your study outward to other relevant links and resources.
Listen to others
Don't just wait for your turn to talk – be vocal, but make sure it's relevant and polite. If you simply jump in to say something unrelated to the conversation, it can signify a lack of listening skills. Employers want to see your ability to work with others, and the only way to successfully collaborate is to share ideas. However, remember to never interrupt another candidate. You'll probably be anxious about speaking frequently, but good manners can go a long way. Trying to dominate the conversation or jumping in when others are speaking can not only look rude, but also suggest a lack of teamwork skills.
Don't shy away from speaking
That being said, make sure your voice is heard in the crowd. At times the conversation will likely head in your direction naturally, but also take the initiative to speak first a couple of times. Share original ideas with the group and help facilitate the conversation to demonstrate strong leadership skills.
Don't be too surprised if some people show up to your group interview underdressed. Though a group interview might seem like a more casual setting, it's still a professional interview, which means you should look your best. Dress to the same level you would for a personal interview, but don't be afraid to do so in a way that shows off your individuality.
Bring a copy of your professional documents
Bring along the most recent version of your resume and the cover letter you wrote to apply for the position. You never know if a potential employer will ask for a physical copy of these documents. It will also help you stand out if you have these documents on hand, whereas other candidates might not bother.
Listing your professional experience into an aesthetically pleasing resume can be a daunting task. Of course, there's always LinkedIn, but the site is more of personal profile and social network than a genuine resume. When it comes time to job hop, you'll want something a little more concrete. Luckily, there are numerous resume building applications out there to help you get started. A resume app is a great way to create a professional document showcasing your accomplishments and skills. However, bear in mind that you should not only take measures to make your resume esoteric, but also cater this document around each position to which you apply. Essentially, you should always have a basic resume highlighting your achievements, but you'll need to individualize it when applying for specific jobs. Use resume apps for the former, and then personalize your well-edited document before seeking out a new job.
Career Igniter Resume Builder
This Android app is a great platform for first-time resume writers. The app is available on tablets and smartphones, making it easy to work on your resume on the go. Moreover, since you can save your document to your mobile device, it's relatively simple to pull up and share at a moment's notice. Career Igniter makes it easy to transfer your resume to Microsoft Word format or email it to yourself. Furthermore, this resume builder has a number of templates for professionals of different experience levels and backgrounds, including specific templates for military veterans and federal employees. The only major setback of this program is that you must follow the template, but this is easily fixed by transferring your resume to MS Word. Personalize your basic resume in MS Word to make it more distinct.
This is another excellent program for those looking to jump into their first real job. Resume Builder is a Windows desktop application that makes resume building a breeze. The program prompts you to fill in pertinent information and then formats it into a basic resume. Similar to Career Igniter, Resume Builder's main downfall is a lack of room for personalization. But if you just need something that looks professionally formatted, Resume Builder is the ticket. After you fill everything out, your resume can be exported as an MS Word document. This then gives you room to individualize your document.
Resume Genius is also a good resource for first-time job seekers. A major advantage of this application is that it offers up thousands of keywords and professional phrases. This will allow those new to the job search with a good base of buzzwords and industry-specific language to begin creating a strong resume. Resume Genius also has templates that can be easily exported as PDFs or docs. The website also has dozens of example resumes to use as a reference guide.
VisualCV is a little more complicated than the previous apps on this list. This application creates a digital resume that is much more expansive than a plain document. You can create and manage multiple resumes directly on the website, adding numerous medias and links as desired. This gives job seekers the ability to integrate links to published works in their resume documents. VisualCV also works to optimize your Google search, so when a potential employer browses your name, your professional credentials are at the top. In this way, VisualCV allows users to create a multimedia resume that not only looks professional, but provides employers directly with work samples and other deliverables.
After you've crafted a perfect resume, you'll be ready to start job hunting confidently.
Job hunting can be an exhausting process, especially in today's market where many openings seem to disappear in a matter of minutes. In fact, the reality is that many job openings never even get posted to the public. That's because when companies need to fill a vacancy, odds are they already have a particular type of candidate in mind. Much thanks to the Internet, employers can now seek out noteworthy candidates in their industry and contact them about a job opening directly. This might make it seem impossible to get noticed, but there are number of ways to help encourage hiring managers to seek you out for a job. In many ways this will actually make your job search easier. Just think, rather than spend countless hours filling out applications willy-nilly, an employer may contact you and ask you to apply for a position. Of course, this doesn't mean you can sit idly by and wait for an email. After you're done perfecting your resume and writing some solid cover letters, implement these tips to encourage employers to contact you.
Get a referral
Getting a referral from friend or colleague can go a long way. Think about it – if a company hired them and then they recommend you, odds are the company will put more stock in your application. Referred candidates account for a significant percentage of external hires. Essentially, a referral is an extra seal of approval from someone already in the organization. This recommendation can potentially have employers asking you to apply.
Establish long-term relationships
At the end of the day, no one can predict the future. You never know when you'll need a helping hand or be able to provide one to a colleague in need. Developing professional relationships with recruiters, key industry players and co-workers provides you with a strong network to establish a career. Getting to know recruiters in your industry can be particularly important if you are still young and looking to job hop, since they will often have insights into industry trends regarding hiring, as well as knowledge of current and future job openings. Always try to leave a position on good terms, as you never know when you will need a previous employer for a referral. There's also always the chance that a former employer is aware of an open position and passes your name along.
Manage your social media presence
Social media is a great place to network with friends and acquaintances, but it's also an increasingly important part of the professional world. Your social media profiles are great platforms for showing off your career skills, sharing industry news and staying abreast of job openings. A well-managed online presence can attract employers. In fact, many employers search for candidates on LinkedIn and Twitter before a position becomes open to the public. Use your online profiles to showcase your talent and professionalism – it will potentially lead employers right to your door. Make sure to regularly post updates social media to demonstrate to employers that you are actively looking for the right position.
Again, referrals come in handy. LinkedIn allows you to request and give referrals to friends and colleagues. Take advantage of this system to enhance your profile.
Many hiring managers run candidate names through Google or another search engine to get a general idea of the person's character. Google yourself to see what hits come up on the first page. You can actively create a professional blog, maintain strong social media accounts, and upload your resume to a website to try and put those items near the top of a Google search. This way, when employers look you up, all of your professional accomplishments will be placed front and center.
At times, writing a cover letter can seem like an impossible task. After all, it's a daunting challenge to articulately word why you are best suited for a position on a single piece of paper. While resumes are often crafted and edited over weeks or months, a cover letter is a personal statement directed at the person who's potentially hiring you for a specific position. No wonder it seems like such a tall order to separate yourself from the herd. Hiring managers likely have distinct preferences both in regard to how you word your cover letter and your previous experience. However, there are several basic protocols that you should adhere to whenever writing a cover letter. Here is a quick list of do's and don'ts for crafting a good cover letter:
Do know who you're addressing
The Internet has made it possible to seek out almost anyone in a specific organization. With that said, "To Whom It May Concern" simply doesn't cut it anymore. Not only does it sound impersonal, but it also demonstrates a lack of research and interest in the position. Job descriptions often list to whom you'd be directly reporting or who will be reading through the applications. Address your cover letter to this individual. If the position of the person is listed but not a specific name, browse the company's website and search through the staff directory to find out to whom you should address your cover letter.
Don't repeat your resume
It's really easy to fall into the trap of regurgitating your resume. While these two documents are certainly related, a cover letter is your chance to introduce yourself and emphasize specific accomplishments. Use your cover letter to go into further detail about your professional experiences and show off your individuality.
Even if your resume stands out, you might be discounted for something as little as one spelling or grammatical mistake on your cover letter. Everyone is susceptible to error, but mistakes found in these documents might signify a lack of attention to detail. Proofread your cover letter several times to ensure there are no obvious mistakes. Once you've given it a few reads, ask a close friend or family member to read it as well. It's always good to get another set of eyes on your cover letter, because other readers may catch an error you overlooked.
Don't dilly dally
Make sure your cover letter gets to the point. Don't spend a lot of time funneling toward the point you want to convey. Cover letters are short and precise, and therefore require direct language that commands attention.
Do personalize your cover letter
A cover letter should not be uniform. Every position for which you apply requires different skills and experience. It's imperative to emphasize the aspects of your professional life that make you the right fit for the job. Hiring managers have a knack for identifying cover letters that are mass produced. These form cover letters are usually pretty obvious anyway, because they tend to be broad and omit job-specific language. Do yourself a favor and write unique cover letters for each position to which you apply.
Don't rely solely on a template
Those writing their first cover letter might be tempted to follow an online template. While these resources can be a good starting point, it's important to remember a singular format doesn't necessarily work for everyone. Format your cover letter in the way that most effectively showcases your experience, creativity and professionalism.
Don't forget to follow up
Sometimes a great cover letter and resume will only get you so far. The fact is hiring managers are tasked with sorting through hundreds of applicants, and your materials can potentially get lost in the tumult. Make sure to follow up regularly and reemphasize your interest in the position.