To advance in any profession, it is critical that you standout in your job search. However, all too often job seekers standout for all the wrong reasons. Frequently, I am asked what it takes to land a new position. The answer is a combination of the right experience, education, timing, personality and the quality of the first impression.
Of all these components, first impressions are frequently overlooked, yet one of the most critical. Many quality job applicants are ruled out by simple mistakes without even being aware of it. The bottom line is, you cannot land a job in ten seconds, but you can certainly be ruled out in five.
Regardless of the field you are in, writing a resume is the beginning of the job search. Typically, the chronological resume (with the most recent date listed first) is standard. Your resume is the first impression that a potential employer has. On a regular basis, hiring authorities see a large quantity of resumes. The reality is they do not spend a lot of time reading every resume because they simply do not have the time. It is imperative that your resume is easy to read and clearly communicates that you are qualified and competent. Take advantage and utilize resources such as published books and articles to provide resume writing tips. Anything longer than a two-page resume will get lost in the shuffle and not read.
The most common mistake I encounter on resumes is misspelled words or typographical errors. We all make mistakes. However, when submitting your resume, a simple error in spelling can cost you. Proof it yourself by reading it out loud. Then, have someone you trust read over the resume and look for spelling or grammatical errors. Using the “spell checker” is helpful but it will not find a misused word if it is spelled correctly (i.e., their or there). A fresh set of eyes will go a long way.
Believe it or not, a very common mistake is to include incomplete or incorrect contact information. What does this say about the applicant? It could have been a simple mistake, or it could appear that the candidate is not organized. It is not uncommon for people to keep old resumes on file and update them over time. If you have moved, or changed your telephone number or e-mail address, make sure it is up to date. Additionally, ensure your email address is professional and appropriate in a business environment.
When it comes time to submit your resume, email it and follow any directions the company provides. If the resume is well written and the qualifications are a match, the next first impression will be a telephone interview. It is a good idea to make sure your voicemail message reflects professionalism. If you have a song, funny message, or unique response, consider changing it during the time you are interviewing. At least once a month I will make a call and cannot leave a voicemail. Make sure your voicemail box is set up and cleared out. Respond to any messages as soon as possible.
When you do speak with potential employers, always remain positive and never bad mouth former employers. Remember, we work in a very small industry. The person you speak negatively about might be connected to the hiring decision. It is very important to be energetic and upbeat. If you do not make a positive impression at this point, you will not make it to the face-to-face interview.
Social networking sites are a great way keep up with old friends and network within the biomed field. They are also used by human resource departments to discover more about potential new hires. Keep your accounts private unless you want them to become part of the decision process. Better yet, do not put anything out there you would not want your mother to see. Additionally, ensure your LinkedIn profile matches your resume and is up-to-date.
The most critical part of the hiring process is the face-to-face interview. Always be on time and dress professional. I suggest wearing a suit or at least slacks and a professional shirt. It is better to be over dressed than under dressed. If you walk into an interview and are over dressed, you can always take a jacket off. If you show up under dressed, there is no turning back.
Be aware of your body language and eye contact with those you meet. Candidates often believe the hiring decision is made in the interview room. Remember everyone is in on the hiring decision, including office administrators. Candidates have lost job opportunities by being simply being rude to the receptionist.
During an interview, the hiring team has set aside time during busy schedules to focus their attention on you. Your body language and how you react during an interview is an enormous indicator of your interest and willingness to fit in. For example, if you cross your arms after being introduced to someone, it could be construed that you are not open to communicating. Never bring your phone, or other device, into the interview and certainly do not accept any calls. Yes, this actually happened, and that candidate was quickly dismissed from the interview process.
Expect that a complete criminal background and reference check will be performed before an offer letter is presented. During this process, be honest and disclose any potential issues.
Do not overlook the simple things. It’s your turn to stand out for the right reasons.
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