Maybe you were part of the Great Resignation of 2021 and you’re looking for a different job in 2022. You might be a parent ready to return to work after helping your kids with virtual schooling. Or you’re just ready to move on to something new.
Whatever the reason, now is the time to polish your resume, think about your transferable skills and, yes, learn how to interview with a robot.
Here are five tips for landing that next job in the new year.
1. Create the Best Resume
There’s a fine line between making your resume stand out and conforming to norms employers expect that simplify the hiring process for them.
Your Resume’s Format
Here are a few basics for a resume format:
- Keep it to a page or a page and half max, with a lot of white space.
- An online resume can include hyperlinks to your portfolio or other examples of your work.
- Always send it as a PDF.
- Avoid novelty fonts and stick with Ariel, Times Roman or Cambria.
Your Resume’s Content
Along with the basic contact info, education and work experience, be sure to include the following:
- Use keywords on your resume, typically in the job description within your work experience. But only use words that fit logically. Don’t pepper every possible keyword into your resume.
- Academic or professional honors.
- Additional software skills, certifications or other training.
- Interesting hobbies, volunteer work or organizations.
The final, and most important tip: Proofread. Proofread. Proofread. Get a friend to proofread. Get another friend to proofread. Then proofread again.
For more detailed information on writing a resume, check out this post on how to write a resume.
2. Write a Great Cover Letter
Ugh. You finish the resume and then there’s that dreaded cover letter.
It has to say why you are the best person for the job without sounding like you are full of yourself and spewing all the usual accolades. Here are some basic tips for how to write a cover letter.
- Never write “Dear Sir or Madam.” Try to find the hiring manager’s name or open with “Dear human resources team.”
- Keep it all to one page — or less.
- Offer specifics about what you like about the company and the position. Read up on the employer to find something distinctive.
- Tout your experience and skills without sounding like a bragger. This is a fine line but it’s very doable. Instead of, “I know more about X than anyone around,” try, “I know my three years of experience in X give me the background to be an important part of your team.”
- Find a value or past experience you have that aligns with this company’s growth or philosophy.
- Talk about next steps such as following up with a call or email, scheduling an interview or attending an open house.
3. Master an Interview With a Webcam
In the era of remote work, the interview process is more and more remote, too.
Sometimes a live interviewer doesn’t even enter the process until the second round. Sadly, employers have discovered that they can review 20, 30 or 50 applicants without dedicating a live person to the task.
So you’ll need some video interview tips for your meeting with a robot. Using artificial intelligence, it will assess your body language and eye contact along with responses to written or oral questions.
Make a list beforehand of phrases such as “team player” or skills used in the job posting, and be sure to use them in your responses. Example: If the job requires three years experience, use the phrase “three years” or “more than three years” in your responses.
4. Remember to Say Thank You
It’s not sucking up, it’s a common courtesy that employers not only notice, they pretty much expect. If you meet with an actual person online or in person, be sure to get their email address so you can send a thank you email for their time and consideration.
This is another opportunity to set yourself apart from the others.
Reiterate points you made in your interview that you can tell went over well with: “As we discussed, I would add X to your team” or “I have a great interest in and experience with your latest endeavor, X.”
You can also include one more examples of your work that you hadn’t sent before but realized during the interview would be helpful.
5. Continue Following Up
Yes, you might risk feeling like a stalker, but it’s perfectly acceptable to check in on the hiring process after your thank-you email.
Be sure to ask about the hiring timeframe during your interview, so you can reference it when you follow up. Most employers take longer than they expect, so chances are you won’t hear about the job within their projected time. And, sadly, fewer and fewer companies let you know if they’ve filled the job with someone who isn’t you.
So a couple weeks after your interview, it’s fine to send a casual email checking in to see if there are any updates.
When deciding how to follow up after an interview, remember to keep things casual, non-demanding, respectful and self-confident. No one wants to hire a candidate who sounds impatient, desperate or passive-aggressive.
Veteran journalist Katherine Snow Smith is a former staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She covers ways to make money, save money and other topics. Her work as appeared in the Tampa Bay Times, Charlotte Business Journal and Greenville (S.C.) News. She is the author of “Rules for the Southern Rulebreaker.”