Advice on Applying for a Job: Cover letter, Resume, Interview questions, Interview s DOs and DON Ts

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1 Advice on Applying for a Job: Cover letter, Resume, Interview questions, Interview s DOs and DON Ts THE COVER LETTER WHAT IS A COVER LETTER? The cover letter is addressed to a potential employer and serves as an introduction to you and your resume. Unlike the resume, it is never "mass produced" but individually tailored to a specific employer. What do I Say? There is a very simple formula to follow when preparing a cover letter. The letter should be brief, impactful, and consist of three paragraphs. Paragraph #1 1. Who you are and why you are writing. 2. Introduce yourself and indicate what you want i.e. "I am a senior graduating from Memorial University of Newfoundland interested in launching my career in the field of Public Relations." Paragraph #2 1. How you can benefit the employer and why the employer is of special interest to you. 2. Sell the organization on your potential to be a valuable employee. Pick highlights from your resume to demonstrate your strongest skills and personal qualities. 3. Indicate why you want to work for that particular organization. Research them and be as specific as possible. Paragraph #3 1. Tell the employer what you want her/him to do. 2. Suggest arrangements for contact. Take the initiative to call the employer -waiting for the phone to ring or a letter to arrive is very time consuming and can be frustrating. SOME DO'S AND DON'TS 1. Do have your cover letter professionally typed on paper that matches your resume. 2. Don't mass produce cover letters 3. Do address your letter to the "right" person using the "right name". 4. Do proofread carefully to ensure there are no spelling or typing errors. 5. Don't underestimate the importance of the cover letter. It is as important as the resume itself and can be the key to securing the interview. If you apply the same attention and hard work to your cover letter as you do to your resume, you will kindle a spark of interest in a potential employer. Above all, show enthusiasm in your correspondence so you'll get the opportunity to demonstrate it in an interview.

2 RESUME CONTENT While the details may vary as you tailor your resume to a firm, you will want to include the following basic information: Personal data - name, address, phone number, permanent address. Do not include your social security number, birth date, state of health, or marital status. Education - list information about graduate school, undergraduate school, and other courses in that order. Information regarding secondary education should not be included unless it pertains to the position being sought. Awards and prizes - list academic and non-academic awards if relevant to the job. Volunteer work - may list relevant volunteer experience you have acquired. Extracurricular activities - list extracurricular activities which are relevant. Special skills - list knowledge of languages, papers presented or published, association memberships. Grades - include a summary or separate transcript of your university grades only if they are requested. (You may want to include an explanation of the grading system if you are applying abroad.) TEN MOST COMMON RESUME WRITING MISTAKES 1. Too long (preferred length is one page). 2. Disorganized - information is scattered around the page - hard to follow. 3. Poorly typed and printed - hard to read - looks unprofessional. 4. Overwritten - long paragraphs and sentences - takes too long to say too little. 5. Too sparse - gives only bare essentials of dates and job titles. 6. Not oriented for results - doesn't show what the candidate accomplished on the job. 7. Too many irrelevancies - height, weight, sex, health, marital status are not needed on today's resume. 8. Misspellings, typographical errors, poor grammar - resumes should be carefully proofread before they are printed and mailed. 9. Tries too hard - fancy typesetting and binders, photographs and exotic paper stocks distract from the clarity of the presentation. 10. Misdirected - too many resumes arrive on employer's desks unrequested, and with little of no apparent connections to the organization -cover letters would help avoid this. 2

3 PREPARING FOR YOUR INTERVIEW The purpose of any interview is the exchange of information. The company or organization wants information about you, and you want information about it. The following are typical interview questions. You can help yourself by taking time to prepare for these types of questions. Doing some thinking about these questions before hand will help put you at ease and make for a better interview. QUESTIONS TO EXPECT What activities do you participate in? Which do you enjoy most? What are your hobbies? How do you spend your spare time? Why do you feel you have received good training? How interested are you in sports? Which ones appeal most? Why? Do you prefer working with other or by yourself? Why? What are your long-term/short-term goals? Can you take instructions without feeling upset? How long do you expect to work? How well do you get along with most people? What are your future vocational plans? You need information too. The interviewer should provide enough to answer at least the following questions. When do they want someone to start? What are the hours? Is overtime required? Would you fit in the organization? With whom would you be working? Why did the last person leave? (Don't be afraid to ask this question) What are the opportunities for advancement? What exactly does the company do? (Only this if it has not been explained to you) And finally: What is the starting salary? What is the review system? What are the benefits? Do not ask these questions unless you are certain the job appeals to you. If you are interested, you may not want to ask: Am I a suitable candidate? Will I be considered for this position? I am very interested, may I call you? Do I have a chance of obtaining this position? The answer to any of these questions will indicate the company's or organization's interest. It's unlikely you will get a definite yes or no, but at least you'll have a chance to assess the response. It is not presumptuous to expect answers to these questions. They may save you days of wondering, and will also express your interest and healthy assertiveness. 3

4 MOST FREQUENTLY ASKED INTERVIEW QUESTIONS 1. Why don't you tell me about yourself? 2. How did you find out about this job? 3. Do you have any health problems? 4. How will you be getting to work? 5. How long will it take you to get from home to work? 6. Do you have any job related experiences? 7. How do you know you are capable of handling this job? 8. Why should I hire you? 9. What is your greatest weakness? 10. Can you describe the type of person that you think would do well in this kind of work. 11. What kind of training have you had? 12. What immediate contributions can you make to this company? 13. What kind of books do you read? 14. Why do you want to work here? 15. Are you willing to travel? 16. Do you object to overtime work? 17. Your employment record indicates that you have had a lot of short term work and that you haven't any recent paid employment, how come? 18. We feel that you are over qualified for this position. This position doesn't require a person with all the qualifications you have. 19. How long would you expect to stay with this company? 20. Where does this job fit in with your career goals? 21. What salary would you expect? 22. Why do you want to change jobs? 23. Why did you leave your last job? 24. What have your former coworkers thought of you? 25. Do you work well under pressure? 26. How will you feel about doing routine work? 27. Why do you want to work here? 28. Are you willing to travel? 29. Would your last employer recommend you? 30. Can you tell me about your plans for the future? Do you have some short range and long range goals? 31. How do you get along with other people? 32. Have you had management of supervisory experience? 33. Can you tell me anything you've done which shows that you have initiative? 4

5 EFFECTIVE INTERVIEWING DO'S AND DON'TS DO'S 1. Thoroughly research institution and the job. 2. Be relaxed... But confident 3. Be sincere and Listen 4. Make eye contact 5. Be able to state specific goals 6. Dress professionally 7. Be friendly, but not pushy or "chummy" 8. Watch your non-verbals 9. Express 100% interest in the job for which you are interviewing 10. Figure out major problems at institution of office - do homework in advance 11. Know higher education, issues, trends, vocabulary 12. Be aware that you can't talk yourself into a job, but you can talk yourself out 13. Assertively express your strengths and accomplishments 14. Pause before answering questions Speak in a confident voice, be enthusiastic 16. Write thank-you notes 17. Use action verbs in your interview and on the resume DON'TS 1. Use slang, overtalk, argue 2. Be critical or negative 3. Say "well, at MUN we do it this way" 4. Be defensive or act intimidated 5. Chew gum, smoke, tap table 6. Look at floor or tell jokes 7. Evade questions or be afraid to ask questions 8. Put interviewer on the spot 9. Act like you know it all 10. Act desperate, beg, or boast 11. Bring social life into the interview 12. Volunteer personal information especially values, bad experiences 13. Suggest that a job is a stepping stone 14. Express "sour grapes", bad mouth others 15. Have too many interviews in a row - allow personal time 16. Talk in generalities 17. Waste words and repeat yourself 18. Express concern about title, status, salary, fringe benefits during interview, OK after you have job offer 5

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