I get a lot of questions about job seeking and interviewing from my clients and my readers. As you can imagine, the same few questions come up frequently, so I thought it was time that I did a FAQ for quick answers to some of my commonly fielded questions. Here you go!
Do I really need a resume? Isn’t my LinkedIn profile enough? Yes, you absolutely need a resume. Even if you apply to a job via LinkedIn, and the recruiter sees your profile, he is going to ask you for a resume.
What about cover letters? Aren’t they last-century? There is much debate as to whether or not anyone reads cover letters. I advise to err on the side of caution and assume that someone is going to read your cover. If a cover letter is optional, go ahead and include one.
Tailoring my resume and cover letter for each position is a pain. Do I really have to do it? Yes, you do.
What about thank-you notes after the interview? Are they necessary? Yes, but don’t think of them as “thank you” notes. Think of them as follow-up notes, in which you reinforce what you discussed at the interview, and highlight the ways in which you can help solve the business’s problems.
I hate my job. Should I quit before I have another job lined up? You’re free to do whatever you choose but know that it is much, much easier to get a job while you are currently employed. In addition, some interviewers will look askance at you for leaving a job without having another one in your hand. Best to execute a stealth job search while you’re still employed.
You always say the interview is not about you, but that it’s about the business problems. Does that mean that I shouldn’t talk about myself in the interview? No, it means you should talk about yourself in such a way that you align your experience, training, and accomplishments with the problems that the interviewer has.
Do I need to wear a suit? Not necessarily. The type of employer you’re visiting will dictate your dress. Think of it this way–what would you wear if you were going out on a client visit? Dress accordingly.
What is the deal with Skype and phone interviews? They are every bit as real as face-to-face interviews, and you should prepare for them in the same way. Almost no one is brought in for an interview without first having been vetted via Skype, Google Hangout, or phone.
What is the success rate of securing interviews when applying via the ATS? I don’t have any numbers, but it’s quite low. Your time is better spent targeting companies and working your network.
How long should my job search take? There is no hard and fast rule. A number of factors are at play–your industry, your field, your career level, the effort you put into the job search, how targeted your job search is, and the type of position you’re seeking.
How do I prepare for an interview? Research the company. Research the hiring manager. Try to see how you are connected to the company and/or hiring manager and get intel that way. Know your 30 second “elevator speech” cold. Practice responses to commonly asked interview questions. Remember to focus your responses not on yourself, but on the business problems.