by Kirrily Schwartz, Volunteer
You’re nervous. Your palms are sweating and your heart is pounding. You feel like you need to go to the bathroom again, even though you just went.
You’re cussing at your brother on the phone, you’re tired because you stayed up late on YouTube, and you’re really regretting the decision to drink that second energy drink this morning because you can’t stop trembling.
They call your name. You hang up the phone, wipe your hands on your sweats, straighten your baseball cap and saunter forward, trying to look casual.
You’re so desperately trying to remember all the lies you told on your resume that you’ve forgotten the name of the business you just walked into.
Needless to say, your job interview is not going well.
But that doesn’t have to be the case.
According to Diane Kozak, the Director of UAA’s Career Services Center, getting a job is not impossible, as long as you get the basics of resume-writing and interviewing right.
“The most common mistake is spelling and grammar,” she said. “A resume is your business card – you have one chance to make a good impression.”
Ms Kozak warns that “spell-check is not your friend” and advises students to read their resumes over a number of times, and as other people to read it too.
According to job search and employment expert Alison Doyle, the average employer spends less than 30 seconds reading each resume, so tailoring your resume to each specific job you’re applying for is critical.
“The quickest way to get screened out as an applicant is to submit a seriously flawed resume,” she said. “The most common mistake made is submitting a resume that doesn’t meet the requirements of the job you’re applying for.”
This means you need to include keywords from the job description in your resume, and highlight your relevant experience in a simple, straightforward way.
Ms Kozak said she has certainly seen some crazy things.
“I had a student once who was determined to make a rap video of his resume,” she said. “He wanted to rap about his employment history. Usually you’d think that was amazingly creative, but (rapping) had absolutely nothing to do with the job he was applying for.”
Students are also warned to stay away from gimmicks like scented paper and fancy embellishments.
“Another student once wanted to put her picture on her resume, because she was convinced her physical appearance would get her a better leg up for the interview,” she said. “But profile pictures like Facebook are just not necessary.”
When it comes to interviews, there are three key things to remember.
“Assume that the interview is always happening,” said Ms Kozak. “Right from the moment you walk in the door or talk to somebody on the phone, to the time when you receive your final correspondence, it’s always happening.”
That means you need to keep in mind factors such as casual conversations you have outside the formal interview questions, as well as your body language.
“An employer wants to hire someone with the right skills, who’s going to be able to do the job, but they also want someone who is going to fit into the culture of the company,” said Ms Kozak.
It’s important to research the company before your interview, understand how it works and why it exists. You need to know what you’ll be able to bring the company, and what the company is going to be able to give to you.
The next key tip is to dress professionally.
“Keep in mind the culture of the company and the job you’re applying for,” said Ms Kozak. “Match your physical presentation to that.”
Finally, tell the truth.
“Don’t be too verbose, embellish your resume, or make inflated statements you can’t support,” said Ms Kozak.
Alison Doyle agrees.
“Quantify accomplishments and avoid being self-congratulatory, but don’t be too modest,” she said.
According to Ms Kozak, academics aren’t everything, and it’s never too late to start preparing for the job market.
“If you truly want to get the attention of an employer, use your skills outside the classroom,” she said. “Do whatever you can to connect to people in your chosen career field while you’re in school.”
She encourages students to work in their chosen field in some capacity, whether through an internship, paid position, or volunteering.
“Don’t wait until the last minute. Anything you can do experience-wise to set yourself apart from someone will be the thing the employer will look at, and feel that you’re a good investment.”
So take off your sweats and baseball cap, spend the night before your interview researching the company instead of watching YouTube videos, and be prepared.
The job of your dreams is yours for the taking.