Job-Seeking Tips from School of Education
December can still be a productive month for job seekers. Jenny Eddinger, the disability and career services counselor for the Johns Hopkins University School of Education, offers these tips to students and professionals who are seeking their next job.
Interview Tip: Focus on What Interests the Interviewer
We’ve all heard the phrase “tell me about yourself” during a job interview but most candidates tend to focus more on their personal life when responding to this type of inquiry. However, you should be prepared to discuss your professional-related attributes. The key to successful interviewing is to match your qualifications to what the interviewer is looking for in the position. For example, if you tell an interviewer that people describe you as determined, provide a brief example that shows how you have been determined in achieving your goals. Keep your answer short and concise, the employer wants to know a little about you, not your life story. Offer up two or three things that are interesting and useful. Prepare by writing your answer out before the interview, practicing it, timing it and rehearsing it until it sounds natural. The goal is to tell the employer enough to pique their interest, not much more. Properly answered, this question puts the candidate in the driver's seat. It gives you an opportunity to talk about your achievements and positive attributes.
If you’re sending out lots of resumes but aren’t getting any responses, you may need to overhaul your resume. Your success in finding a job isn’t dependent on how many resumes you send out but more on understanding the needs of an employer and then tailoring your resume with relevant skills and experience to demonstrate your potential for that specific position. Employers are looking for a connection between their needs and your abilities. If they don’t see one, they probably won’t consider you as a candidate for the job. That’s why it’s so important to customize your resume for each job you apply for, making it more focused and compelling. For more resume tips, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cover Letter Tips
A cover letter should complement your resume, not repeat it. Use a cover letter as an opportunity to expand on your resume’s bullet points and include additional details that might not fit on your resume. A cover letter gives you the freedom to be more specific about your related skills and experience but don’t forget to also include a few sentences about the potential employer, such as why you want to work for the company or why you are the best candidate for the job. For example, discuss your experience in working with the population the employer serves or how your personal values or career objectives are aligned with the employer’s mission or philosophy. Then talk about your unique abilities and related knowledge or experience and how it would contribute to the employer’s overall success.
Networking isn't about meeting lots of random people and handing out business cards to everyone. It’s about having a strategic plan to connect with the right people to help fulfill your objectives, whether finding a job or developing a professional relationship. Other ways to network besides trying to connect with others at trade or professional association meetings include volunteering to help organize or run the meeting or event. Most people find it easier to become acquainted with others by making a contribution rather than making small talk. Volunteering will give you purpose at the event, and the work itself is a good networking opportunity. By getting involved as a volunteer or committee member, the networking happens naturally, and the focus is on accomplishing something as part of a team with a collective goal. It also looks great on your resume!
Once you've made a connection, follow up to maintain it and keep yourself in your connection's awareness. Whether it's a referral, job lead or a professional connection, take responsibility for initiating contact. Think about how you could be of assistance to them, perhaps by sharing information with your contact that could be helpful in their career or business. The best networking relationships are characterized by mutual benefit.