In Part I and Part II or this blog series I shared how I rid myself of the weak resume, soft answers, and funeral attire to transform myself into the super job candidate I am today. By customizing my resumes, embedding the right keywords, and applying for jobs closer to my abilities, I’ve circled the wagons around the right positions that can allow me to creatively roar and financially soar.
You can do the same.
Let’s start with your window dressing. You probably clean up nicely but in this highly competitive interview world you need to shine, wear a killed ensemble and preferably one unique item that makes your memorable – a piece of jewelry or leopard London Fog Trench Coat.
What to Wear to Show You Mean Business – Their Business
In my first interview in 20 years, I entered in a low-end JC Penney’s suit and black shoes that were a cross between orthopedic and something you see in Sister Act. Translation: I looked old, dated, and ready for the nursing home. Ironically, I was being interviewed for a marketing position for a seniors center. I didn’t make it to the second rounds.
Flash forward one year to my most recent interview for a national marketing position. I swung open the doors like John Wayne entering a town to take over the Sheriff’s position. I sauntered in wearing an expensive White House Black Market dress that screamed authority accented with Italian heels and a take-no-prisoners attitude. Oh what a difference the dress, confidence, and 12 months of polishing me Smith and Wesson makes.
If you’re a woman over 45 interviewing, you need to look fresh, in style, and able to walk on fire without breaking a sweat. Age discrimination is at play and you don’t want your attire to bring it front and center particularly if you’re screener is younger than you.
What to Say (and Not to Say)
Don’t be casual in your answers. Each question an employer asks you is their way of eliminating or advancing you. My advice is to go to Career Confidential and listen to everything Recruiter Peggy McKee has to share. Her advice is worth the money. I benefitted from Peggy’s free interview prep kit and $17 panel prep interview.
Also do yourself a favor and read Erica Dhawan’s article originally posted at In Power Woman about how to get hired. Dhawan learned at the age of 20 how to say the right things to the right people to move ahead.
When I was cutting my interviewing teeth in the early stages, I cut myself right off the potential candidate list. For instance when I was applying for a marketing position with a long-term care facility, I was asked why I was interested in working in the senior’s market.
I flubbed royally by saying because of the number of aging boomers, it was a hot market that I’d like to serve. This weak answer said I was more interested in trends than people. A better answer would have been, “Because seniors deserve great communities to live in that provide both active living and long-term care for their health needs and your company provides just that.”
I also missed the mark early in my interviews when asked where do you see yourself in five years or where do you see yourself in 10 years. I told the interviewer my vision of writing my fifth book on an island, which is the truth but has nothing to do with how I could bring value to them. A better answer would have been, “I see myself on XYZ executive board helping put in place a new (drop in well researched, ass-kissing idea here).”
Finally if you applying for a job that is a step down or jumping tracks (like me going from freelance writer to corporate writer), be prepared to answer why in a way that benefits them and makes great sense.
Human Resource people like people who have a straight career line. They certainly don’t want to hear that the freelance market is paper thin right now. When asked why you want to work for them or return to Corporate America answer, “I noted that your company recently landing an international division, that I would love to earn my way into working on.”
What to Leave Behind
Peggy also recommends preparing a 30-60-90 day plan of action to leave with your “future” employer so they know, you know what you’ll do the first three months once hire. It’s more work, but makes you stand out in a sea of candidates swimming for the target like sperm. Be the one that consummates the deal by leaving a plan of action that shouts let’s discuss terms and get this pony on the track.
In my last interview I left a 30-day plan of attack and the top-10 reasons they would benefit from hiring me. Though I didn’t get that position, they assured me they would try their best to create a position for me in the near future.
If you’re unemployed and in the hunt, check out this list of resources from Over 50 and Out of Work.
Please do me a favor and share this post with a friend who is hunting for work and have a fantastic week.
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Category: Career & Money