A good resume can certainly jumpstart your career.
If you did not get a call after a good interview, here are a few things you may have overlooked.
i. The reference check process
Good professional references can significantly improve your chances of securing that dream job. Here are some things you should know before dropping names on your resume.
~ Top questions
Prospective employers are likely to ask the following questions to those on your reference list.
- Is the candidate open to feedback?
- Is he/ she a team player?
- What are his/ her key strengths/ weakness?
- Would you rehire them?
- Any additional comments?
~ Choosing appropriate people
Don't try to pass off your friend or uncle as your last boss because you are likely to get busted. You could consider using the following:
Educators if you are a fresh graduate
Provide the name of your lecturer if you have recently completed a professional course or degree. If the course you did is relevant to the position you are targeting, your lecturer/ professor could confirm your academic achievements and knowledge in that area.
Former clients/ Customers
Who better than a previous or existing customer to vouch for your commitment and work ethic? Be sure, however, that such referrals are appropriate; stay away from using one-time customers as references.
Supervisors/ colleagues who have been promoted
If you are unable to locate a former manager, you could suggest the name of a colleague who has been promoted to a supervisory position. A direct supervisor or colleague can give details about your past performance and contributions and provide insights into the role you played in their organisation
ii. Do you lack in experience or have taken a break?
If you are a fresh graduate or have been out of work for some time, it is a cause of concern. Try to be creative and keep yourself occupied. Don't let the blank spot on your resume run you off the road. Apart from work experience, you could consider listing:
~ Volunteer work
Shows that you are socially responsible. Corporate social responsibility is a buzzword these days.
Professional Affiliations/ Memberships
Great way to network and learn about your industry. You will also find out about job openings that are not advertised.
~ Project work
Great way to learn how to finish tasks on time and keep up-to-date with changes in your industry. So be open to taking up assignments even if they don't pay you too well.
If you visited foreign countries, you may have gained an understanding of that culture and basic language skills. Apart from making you well rounded, it may come in handy in today's era of globalisation and international business.
iii. What you must know
It's a cardinal sin to walk in for an interview without doing basic research about the organisation.
You can go through the organisation's web site and understand the mission/ vision of the company. Make a note of any important details like new product launches, etc. You can score extra points by mentioning these during the interview.
Apart from this, you could run an online search with the company's name and see what pops up.
"I recently met a candidate who claimed that it was his dream to work for us but he did not even know the name of our CEO or what the company's abbreviated name stands for," says Rakesh Batra, HR manager with an IT consulting firm.
At the least, knowing the following facts about the prospective employer helps, says Sanjay Arora of EQ solutions, a recruitment consulting firm:
- Company's mission
- Company's turnover
- Key products/ services
- Key competitors
- Current leadership team
The job profile
As part of the preparation, you need to understand the job description. Try to identify any job specific terminology and important phrases. If you have any doubts, contact the recruitment consultant or the company to make sure you have the complete job description.
It also helps to know the pattern of the interview/ assessment, for example: will the assessment involve a presentation or group discussion or a panel Interview.
What you want and don't want
This may sound basic, but most people are not very clear about their expectations.
As most interviews are based on your resume, it helps if you mention all the facts like objectives, experience and education clearly.
Be clear about what you don't want as well. This will help you in the final negotiations. An applicant who is willing to take anything will usually get nothing.
What to ask
An interview is a mutual discussion; don't treat it like an interrogation. You need to know about the job and the company.
Asking meaningful questions about common challenges, careerpaths, etc, projects you as a serious candidate.
The panel also starts to view you as a confident and a focused professional, so don't miss out the opportunity to turn the tables on your interviewer.
So, prepare yourself, go out there and secure that dream job.
Sunder works as a trainer with a leading BPO in Delhi. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Job-hunting? Scout here