The research has been done. The results are in. There’s only one interview question that matters — so you better have a good answer for it. Are you ready? Here it is:
What single project or task would you consider your most significant accomplishment in your career to date?
So, what’s your answer? Did something immediately pop into you head? Did multiple examples fill your brain? Or did nothing come to mind? There’s a reason why interviewers love to ask this question. It can spawn dozens of follow-up questions, which is why you better have a well-thought out answer. You could be talking about this topic for another 20 minutes so your story has to be good.
When deciding on which example you should give, think about all aspects of the project. Why were you the perfect fit for this project? How did you succeed? Where did you fail? How did you grow during this project? How did it affect the company’s bottom line? What did you learn from it? Every interviewee ought to have one solid example of a career achievement where they can really go in-depth into the details. If you don’t have one, perhaps it’s time to create one.
If you still currently hold a job, raise your hand for a new project or pitch an idea to your manager. If you’re currently between positions, volunteer for a local organization or start freelancing a passion project for a local business. It’s never too late to create career success. Your accomplishments are in your hands.
Get into the mind of a recruiter and see exactly what follow-up questions you can expect over at Inc Magazine.
FastCompany recently ran a fantastic article outlining seven secrets for cover letter success given straight from a successful recruiter. Be warned: if she hates the cover letter, she’s not even going to glance at the resume. The same can be said for most recruiters. The cover letter can make or break a candidate’s application. Here’s our summary of some of this article’s key points:
- Immediately open with why you’re excited about this job and why you’re the perfect fit for this position.
- Generic openings do not catch a recruiter’s attention — and risk being skipped.
- Those with an internal referral — who mention it early on in the cover letter — will catch a recruiter’s attention.
- Applicants with an internal referral may have a higher change of getting an interview and getting hired, so start networking!
- Ditch the “To whom it concerns” opening. With a little online research, you can find out at least one name to address the cover letter to.
- Set the right tone in your letter. Is this a goofy, laid-back start-up or a traditional corporate environment?
- Set up an informational interview with an employee beforehand so you can learn more about the position — and then tailor your cover letter perfectly.
Read the full article over at FastCompany.
We absolutely loved this recent post by Inc. called “Quit Using These 10 Words to Describe Yourself on LinkedIn.” Why should you avoid these words? Because everyone else uses them! If you want to stand out in a sea of job seekers, these overused buzzwords are doing nothing but blending you into the crowd.
When words are overused, they lose their meaning. Think outside the box and find more powerful alternatives to these clichés – or better yet, draft up more descriptive and specific examples of each of these traits. If you can’t think of an example, the word probably shouldn’t have been mentioned in your profile anyway! Here are the top 5:
Read the rest of the list over at Inc.
Image via Mark Bult/Flickr.
Spring is right around the corner, which means graduation is 0h-so-close. For upcoming graduates, this is the most exciting part of their lives. There’s just one thing missing — a job offer. Luckily, we’ve gathered a few top tips will help graduates stand out during the application process.
Step 1: Start Applying Now.
Don’t wait until you have a degree in hand. Get that resume out there and you’ll be a few steps ahead of the bunch. It will be easier to make a big first impression when there is less competition.
Step 2: Use Keywords.
Every cover letter and resume should be tailored to every position. Scour the job description for important key words and sprinkle them throughout all of your correspondence with this company. Don’t leave anything up to the imagination — tell them that you’re the perfect fit!
Step 3: Keep it Clean Online.
Your LinkedIn profile is probably already in tip-top shape so now it’s time to move onto your other presences. Lock up your Facebook profile, delete any inappropriate tweets, and start painting the picture of perfection moving forward.
Step 4: Prepare Yourself.
Even if you haven’t landed that elusive interview yet, start practicing common interview questions. Break down your elevator pitch. Get yourself a well-fitting suit. Then, when the calls do start rolling in, you’ll be calm, collected, and cool.
Looking for more advice? Read our resume tips for recent grads.
Image via Jenn Schott Knudsen/Flickr.
We’re a sucker for infographics, especially this one recently shared by Entrepreneur magazine on The Ultimate Social Media Guide to Getting a Job. It addresses something that affects every job seeker today: “Though the Internet has made it easy to apply for new jobs, it has also made it difficult to stand out.” So how will you stand out? Click the link above to see the infographic in full and learn more about how you can get noticed online.
Image via Entrepreneur.
The resume is essentially a one-page story of your life — at least your business life. But what if we looked at it differently? Between LinkedIn and other social networks like Facebook and Twitter, it’s already clear that the resume is expanding and jumping off the piece of paper. We’re “friending” our coworkers and sometimes working from home. Work and life are merging. So what will become of the resume?
One company has a revolutionary idea. It’s called 1-Page and it’s a job proposal tool. They believe “the resume is dead,” and a one-page job proposal is a more effective way to land a new position — perhaps a position that you created yourself. The concept is actually based off a New York Times bestselling book of the same name.
In a study of 2,000 participants, 60% of those who submitted 1-page proposals landed an interview, according to the co-founder of the site. According to their philosophy, job seekers shouldn’t wait until a position opens at a company. They should pitch themselves and their skills in hopes of landing an interview regardless of whether a position is open or not. If the company likes you enough, they may make a position.
What do you think of the one-page job proposal? Would you market yourself to a company who may not be in need of you — or may not know they are in need of someone like you?
P.S. Read our tips about how to manage your online reputation.
Image via Amazon.
We’ve already covered the best questions to ask in your next interview, but we’ve rounded up a few more that can help you make a decision when it comes to accepting a job offer or not. After all, the interview is a chance for you to feel things out too. Is this the kind of company you’d like to work for? Is the position all it’s cracked up to be? Will you be happy here? These questions might help you get to the bottom of it:
- How has this position evolved over the past few years? If the position began as an entry level position, but now has added responsibility perhaps there is even more room to grow. That’s always a good thing.
- What is the first project I’ll be tackling? Find out what your first priority is in this position — does it sound in line with the job description and your interests? Great.
- How would you describe a typical workweek in this position? This might be a chance to discover how closely you’ll be interacting with coworkers and how often you’ll be pulled into meetings.
- What do you love most about working here? It’s time to get a little personal and ask your interviewee what he or she enjoys about this company and this team. A generic answer might be a warning sign. Try to dig deeper.
- How often will I interact with my manager? Try to get a feel for whether you’ll have a boss that’s available at all times for questions or a boss who’s too busy in meetings 90 percent of the time.
- Can I expand on any of my qualifications for you? If the interviewer is hesitant about hiring you, it’s best to address those issues now — when you actually have a say in the subject.
It’s no secret that you would love a few recommendations on LinkedIn. And what’s the quickest way to get LinkedIn recommendations? Give LinkedIn recommendations. But make sure they’re good. Writing about your working relationship with someone else can feel a little awkward at first. With a little help from this outline, you’ll be whipping up stellar reviews in no time. Here are our top tips broken down sentence-by-sentence:
1. Sentence 1: How do you know this person?
Explain when and where you worked with this person and what your relationship was. For example, “I had the pleasure of managing Cindy for two years while she was a graphic designer at ABC Design.”
2. Sentence 2: Describe their top trait.
What first comes to mind when you think of this person? What talents, skills, or personality traits make them unique? Wrap it up in a catchy sentence here. For example, “She easily blends her ultra-creative mind with a brand savviness that is unmatched.”
3. Sentence 3: Illustrate your point.
Drive home your previous sentence by giving an example of these skills in action. For example, “When we landed our first Fortune 100 client, I immediately knew who I could trust with their redesign: Cindy.”
4. Sentence 4: Give her a personality.
Just like the interview is a chance to show off a person’s true personality, so are these recommendations. Write something interesting about the person that cannot be found in their resume. For example, “Cindy always showed up with a smile — and a box of pastries — every Monday morning.”
5. Sentence 5: State the obvious.
You’re writing this recommendation because you recommend this person. But be sure to state that in black and white at the end of your paragraph. For example, “I highly encourage any design firm to grab Cindy before someone else does — you won’t regret it!”
And you thought the end of college speech class meant the end of ever having to publicly read aloud your work. False. In most corporate environments, you’ll find yourself needing those public speaking skills on a day to day basis. Here are just a few examples of when those talking talents can come in handy:
- Presenting a concept to your team.
- Arguing an important point during a meeting.
- Negotiating a raise with your boss.
- Participating in a group interview for a potential new candidate.
- Assigning tasks to a freelancer or intern.
- Expressing your accomplishments at your year-end review.
So what’s a shy employee to do? YSF magazine outlined eight easy tips that will instantly improve your public speaking at work. Here is an outline of our favorite points:
- Keep your goal — or the final point of your speech — in mind throughout your conversation.
- Be aware of your body language and posture.
- Smile! Your facial expressions say as much as your words.
- Don’t forget about eye contact.
Image via www.audio-luci-store.it/Flickr.
Ever had one of those coulda, woulda, shoulda feelings? They’re not fun. But the one good thing that can come from regret is sharing your story with others — so THEY can learn from your mistakes. We’ve gathered up a few common lessons that many professionals wish they’d learned at an earlier age. Take their wisdom, learn from it, and know that you’re one step ahead with your newfound knowledge.
1. Don’t settle for the first job offer that’s thrown on the table.
It’s hard to say no to a paycheck, but it’s also important to consider all aspects of a job offer from the salary to the commute time to the job responsibilities. Will this position make you happy? Notice the emphasis on the happy — not on the salary.
2. It’s hard to be successful doing something you don’t love.
Looking for fame and fortune but despise showing up to work each day? Well you better find a new path. Riches, happiness, and success comes much more easily to those who are passionate and inspired.
3. Learn who you can trust — and who you can’t.
No one can get by without a little help from their friends — er, coworkers. But some will be more reliable and efficient than others. Learn who you can count on and who is contributing toward your successes.
4. Never underestimate happiness.
People like to be around a happy person. Happy people have lots of friends. And in a business environment, that will always be an advantage. Start building friendships now. It’s never too late.
5. Don’t grow complacent.
Even your dream job could eventually become boring. It’s important to always be challenged, always be learning, and always be a little bit scared by the responsibility that’s been placed on your shoulders.
What wisdom would you add?
Image via LiveLifeHappy/Flickr.