Preparing for a Job Search: Common Mistakes and Success Tips

Manny BarriosGetting a job can be tough in this economy. Radio Show guest Manny Barrios and host Denis Nurmela discussed the challenges of preparing for a job search and offered some great tips for job seekers who are struggling to get their foot in the door with an employer.

Tips for Preparing your Marketing Package – Your Resume and Cover Letter

If you email or mail your cover letter and resume, they become your first impression to the company. This means that you need to think of them as your sales or marketing tool and spend time and energy to get them right.

Customizing your cover letter and resume to clearly demonstrate your competitive advantage or what makes you stand out from the rest of the candidates is instrumental. After researching the company and reviewing the job posting, ask yourself if you have skills or talents that you can highlight that might set you apart from the sea of candidates. For example, if you discover by researching (reading the companies investor communications or annual report) the company is trying to expand into Asian markets and you speak Japanese, highlight that. If the job posting asks for someone who is highly organized and you have planned complicated events requiring incredible time management, highlight that.

But how do you get your resume seen in the first place?  Manny and Denis agree that networking is the most important tool a job seeker can use.  Various research reports have shown that 85-90% of jobs filled were never advertised on the web.  A referral from an employee within a company can be one of the best ways to get your resume reviewed by a hiring manager.  Joining professional associations and talking about your search with family, friends and acquaintances can help you get introduced to connections that know companies that are hiring.

Top Resume Tips from Manny and Denis

  • Speak the truth – do not put on your resume that you speak Spanish if you are not able to hold a conversation in Spanish. The interviewer may know Spanish and test you.
  • Create an “Inventory Resume” based on key words – as many companies are using computer technology to screen resumes, it is essential that resumes are customized to the key words from the job posting that describe what the company is looking for in a new recruit. By creating a bank of bullet points or paragraphs that can be searched based on the key words in the job posting, it can make building a custom resume a snap.
  • Clean up your email address, voice mail message and social media sites – if your Facebook page has a picture of you partying hard in Vegas or your comments show a negative attitude, that can send a wrong impression to an employer. If your email address is “sexychick333.com” your resume may go into the “circular file” i.e. the garbage can. Your voice mail message needs to be professional so avoid using pop music clips or talking gangsta style (such as,”Yo, leave a messa”) on your voice mail outgoing message.
  • Formatting is important – the look and feel of your resume can be one of the first screening tools an employer uses. A resume or cover letter could be rejected on format or grammar/spelling alone. This means it is important to make sure your resume and cover letter have been proofread for spelling, capitalization and punctuation. Some things to avoid are not capitalizing the letter i or not putting a space between each paragraph.
  • WIIFT (what’s in it for them) – when writing an objective, be sure to emphasize what you bring to the table and not what the company can do for you. Avoid common phrases like “I want to help people” and instead offer specifics that will impress an employer. For example, a statement like “I can help Acme Corp find new markets in Asia” will catch an employer’s attention and get them to keep reading.

Top Interview Tips from Manny and Denis

  • Interviews start early – An interview starts when you drive up to the building or park in the company’s lot. Manny was looking out the window before an interview was about to start and saw a candidate kick his car in anger when he caught the seat belt in the door. That did not make a good impression. Also, remember that the interviewer may ask the receptionist and other staff members you meet for an impression of you. If you flirt with or make a suggestive comment to the receptionist, you may give the impression that you are a player and a risk for a sexual harassment claim.
  • Dress to impress – nose rings, flashy jewelry or clothes, low cut tops, anything that could possibly turn of an employer or customer is not a good idea for the majority of companies. A professional appearance is the visual image that will stick in the mind of the interviewer when they are reviewing their options and deciding who to hire.
  • Do your homework – research the company thoroughly. Read their website, research their financials if they are a public company (and read posts or documents used to attract investors), read their press releases, Google search the interviewer’s email address and name and look the interviewer up on LinkedIn. Prepare questions you want to ask the company and write them on a print out of the front page of their website. Pulling this page out in the interview will impress the interviewer. They will know you’ve read their website.
  • Come prepared – bring extra copies of your resume, bring a pre-stamped and addressed thank you card to pop in the mail after the interview.
  • Practice – a videotaped mock interview with a career coach and debrief with the coach can be an incredible learning opportunity if you continually get first interviews but not second interviews or job offers. The video tape can reveal body language issues that you may not be aware of – and body language talks!
  • Be on time – call if you are running late and see if they can reschedule the interview. Best practice is to arrive at the parking lot 30 minutes early and the interview 15 minutes ahead of schedule.

To contact Manny Barrios, call him at 978-595-1787 for career coaching or corporate training services or visit his Manny’s website for more detailed information about his services.

Denis’ YouTube video on resume writing, interviewing and follow-up.

For more tips and examples from their career coaching experience, watch/listen to the archived episode with Manny Barrios which aired on Jan 10 and 11, 2013 from Saturday Morning CEO Radio Archives.

Tune in to the Saturday Morning CEO Radio Show Friday or Saturday mornings from 8-9 am Pacific Time.  You can hear us on:

The show is archived on Vimeo for viewing anytime.

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Joni Rose

Joni Rose

Joni Rose is Saturday Morning CEO's blogger. Joni writes about her passion - professional and entrepreneurial development. She has an extensive background in adult education and training program management. Her consulting business, Career Minded Consulting Services, focuses on helping companies take a mishmash of training courses and create a training program that helps recruit, train and retain great employees.

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Joni Rose

Joni Rose

Joni Rose is Saturday Morning CEO's blogger. Joni writes about her passion - professional and entrepreneurial development. She has an extensive background in adult education and training program management. Her consulting business, Career Minded Consulting Services, focuses on helping companies take a mishmash of training courses and create a training program that helps recruit, train and retain great employees.

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