Resumes, Cover Letters, Interviews, and Thank You Notes

The most important aspect of managing money is having it to manage.  For most people, obtaining money comes from earning it working for a business.  To get a job, individuals must be competitive in the marketplace and often times the first impression a company will have of you is through your cover letter and resume. 

The rules for resumes have changed over the year.  Also, the type of resume you should write will depend on the industry of interest, level and amount of work experience, skills, and education.  For example, a college student with little to no work history would create a resume emphasizing their skills and educational experience.  For those who are experts in a particular industry would make their work experience the main focus of their resume.  In academia, job seekers create a curriculum vitae or CV which are longer than a typical resume detailing an applicant’s education, work experience, teaching experience, and published articles. 

Cover letters are tricky and many wonder if they ever get read, or at least I do.  A cover letter demonstrates an individual’s written communication skills as well as sharing key information about why they are the ideal candidate.  There are many websites and companies offering resume and cover letter writing services.  Did you know college career centers offer the same services to students and alumni for free?  Colleges want their students and alumni to successfully find jobs as it directly reflects on their institution's effectiveness in preparing students for the job market. 

As most of you know, if a company likes a person’s resume and cover letter they will usually call them to schedule an interview.  Many folks do great until they get to the interview.  Interviews make most people nervous, even the interviewer!  My husband says interviews should be viewed as having a conversation.  Oftentimes, a person is a good candidate but not a good fit.  The opposite could be true about a company; it’s a good company but not a good fit.  My oldest son was recently called about a job and the company wanted an employee who could dedicate all of their energy to the company for 60 hours a week and be on call 24/7.  Since he wants to attend graduate school, he knew he couldn’t make that commitment.  He is a good candidate and it was a good company, but it wasn’t a good fit for either party. 

Many times, people don’t dress properly for an interview.  In my early twenties, I went interviewed for an Administrative Assistant position.  I didn’t have the money to buy business attire, so I wore a simple dress.  I looked nice but the next person to be interviewed was dress to the nines in a professional outfit.  I couldn’t compete.  I was a good candidate but I didn’t have all of the tools I needed to land the job I wanted. 

Other issues with interviews are knowing how to answer questions.  The internet is full of sample interview questions and how to answer them.  College career centers will help with this information, too.  One big tip is knowing as much about the company for which you are applying as you can.  The internet makes learning about a company easy most of the time.  If you cannot find out about a particular company, then understand the industry in which the company operates.  For instance, if the company provides internet technology services, then learn as much as you can about internet technology. 

One more important thing for interviews, but certainly not the last, is asking pertinent questions about the position and the company.  The research you performed about the company should be used to guide in depth questions.  Other questions can range from company culture to benefits offered to employees.

A person’s job isn’t done after the interview.  One more step is vitally important and it’s the follow-up thank you email, note, or letter.  My husband has a rule that he will not hire anyone who does not follow-up with a thank you email or letter.  He believes, and I agree, follow-up thank you notes demonstrate how an individual will offer service to customers.  Either at the beginning or end of an interview, ask everyone in the interview for a business card or contact information.  Make sure to take notes during the interview specific to each person asking questions, identifying key issues for them.  In the follow-up note to each individual in the interview, mention the key issues they asked or talked about and how you would address them. 

Applying for jobs is your time to shine and show others what you have to offer.  Basically, you are educating others about yourself.  At the same time, you are learning about the companies of interest and determining if they are a good fit for you. 

PAFS has pinned a lot of helpful information regarding resumes, cover letters, interviews, and thank you notes on Pinterest.  Check out our pins as well as researching information on the internet.

If you are in the market for a new job, happy job hunting!