Janette Marx is senior vice president for the Southern Division at recruitment firm Adecco Staffing US. She contributed this article to BusinessNewsDaily's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.
Let's face it: looking for a new job isn't exactly a fun experience. Even the promise of a better title, salary and benefits isn't always enough to calm the nerves brought on by the thought of refreshing your résumé and digging out the suit that has been sitting in the back of your closet since your last interview.
Those fears may be well-founded, as a recent survey of U.S. hiring managers by our firm found that job candidates in the beginning stages of their careers could use some coaching on their résumé and interview skills . In fact, 34 percent of those managers report that job seekers in this age group are unable to clearly answer questions and articulate their experience.
Given the still recovering economy and the fierce competition around jobs geared toward recent college graduates, it's never been more important to ace both the résumé and interview. Here are some things to keep in mind:
Nail the basics
Even in the age of LinkedIn, a strong résumé is still essential. It may sound like a no-brainer, but remember to keep an eye on the details, as 43 percent of hiring managers in the survey reported finding spelling errors in candidates' résumés . And, don't underestimate the importance of objectives and goal statements — they may seem old-fashioned, but they're a good way to convey your career aspirations to hiring managers. Thirty-nine percent of those surveyed said goal statements can actually help you get through the door.
Being a passive candidate causes hiring managers to wonder whether or not you even want the job. So, shake off any nerves you have and think of the interview as a sales pitch for yourself and what you can bring to the company. That includes asking questions about the job, the organization and the growth-potential career path. In fact, 20 percent of hiring managers surveyed cited candidates' perceived lack of interest in the job as one of the reasons why they didn't get called back for a second interview. One thing you don't want to ask — especially in the first interview — is about compensation and benefits. Thirty-six percent of hiring managers find an aggressive approach to be a deterrent to offering the job. There will be time for those questions after you have made your first impression and are contacted by the employer.
Play up all of your experience
When just starting out, looking for a job can be discouraging because of a lack of full-time job experience in that particular field. But, don't underestimate the value of internships — they offer just as much hands-on experience as an entry-level job and 84 percent of hiring managers said that one to two internships are enough for them to know you've made an effort to learn. At the same time, you should accept that you are just starting out and you may not exactly be at your ideal level from day one. In fact, 47 percent of hiring managers in the survey suggest that being flexible about where you start in the company as their No. 1 piece of advice to jobseekers.
Not to suggest a completely casual approach to an important situation, but don't forget the basics and courtesies of face-to-face interaction. Eye contact, proper posture and appearing calm and confident (read: no fidgeting) are points of entry to a good interview , and you wouldn't want to be disqualified for failing to do so. Don't be "too" social, though — checking your cellphone or texting while in the interview (or even while you're waiting), as 30 percent of respondents reported seeing, gives off a nonchalant attitude that simply isn't impressive.
Even before you open your mouth to answer or ask questions, you're making an impression. What may seem inconsequential really does count. For example, choose an interview outfit that is professional, seeing as 50 percent of hiring managers surveyed cited inappropriate clothing as one of the biggest mistakes young adults make in an interview. Also, attention to interview details seem to be a given, yet 44 percent of respondents cite being late or showing up on the wrong date as one of the biggest mistakes that is made.
Finding a job these days is still not easy — and beginning your career during this period, especially, brings with it many challenges. Though there isn't a one-size-fits-all solution that will guarantee you a job, keeping in mind the basics of the interview process and managing your own expectations will get you one step closer to your dream career.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher. This article was originally published on BusinessNewsDaily.com.