The professional summary is your first opportunity to delve into the popular, “Tell me about yourself” interview question. Give the recruiter a sneak peek at the value that you bring; this will hopefully entice them to call you for an interview.
The purpose of your resume is to articulate the value that you bring. Your resume is your marketing brochure, you are the product. Imagine visiting a car dealership to look at buying a car, and the salesperson gives you some pamphlets. When you read the brochures, you see information about what the company wants. How does that make you want to buy the car? Think of your resume in the same light. You want the employer to hire you.
Your resume is about what YOU BRING, NOT what you want.
What is a professional summary? It’s a succinctly written paragraph highlighting your skills, as they relate to the position. With that being said, you must tailor your professional summary for each job posting. A generic summary simply will not be as effective.
Benefits of a professional summary
Uses keywords – The paragraph can include keywords, which will increase the probability of you standing out from the crowd is an applicant tracking system is used to scan resumes.
Catches the reader’s attention – Most hiring managers only have time to briefly scan resumes, so a professional summary can quickly show a hiring manager that you meet the job requirements and entice them to continue reading your resume and better yet, call you for an interview.
Links your skills and experiences to the position – If your work experience is not within the same industry as the job posting, but you can articulate a connection, this is the perfect time to highlight your applicable skills to show that you are qualified for the position.
How long should a professional summary be? Three to five well-crafted sentences that tie your skills and experiences with the job posting.
On a resume, where does the professional summary go? On the first page of your resume, underneath the name header.
What’s the bottom line? Delete your resume objective.
Do not bring a drink.
With your nerves brewing and the nervous dry mouth looming, it’s easy to want to bring a bottled or hot drink in with you, but don’t! It’s not professional to enter with a drink in hand. It looks too casual. Plus, a drink provides you with an opportunity to fidget and get distracted (focusing on the drink and not making eye contact. You also run the risk of accidentally spilling the drink.
Pitch the tea, coffee, juice, or water bottle before you even enter the building for your interview.
Do not chew gum or suck on a mint or a candy.
This may be very distracting, and you run the risk of accidentally spitting it out or even worse, biting your tongue.
Not being able to think of an answer to the question.
When you’re nervous sometimes your mind goes blank, try not to panic! Take a breath and use one of these tactics:
- Request that the interviewer to repeat or rephrase the question.
- Strategically ask for more time by saying, “That’s a great question! May I have a few moments to think about it?” This makes the silence in the room less awkward by letting the interviewer know that you are composing your thoughts.
Calling the interviewer by the wrong name.
When you have hit the road looking for a job and have multiple interviews lined up, you may mess up and make a mistake by calling the interviewer or the company by the wrong name, it happens. If you do make this mistake, you will most likely be mortified. If this happens, the best thing to do is apologize immediately and move on.
In an attempt to avoid this blunder, when you first walk in for your interview, repeat the interviewers name out load and then a few times in your head.
Talking negatively about a previous job or colleague.
No matter how bad any previous jobs, bosses or colleagues have been, never speak negatively about it at a job interview. This may result in red flag’s popping into the employer’s mind.
If you left a previous job because of a layoff or budget cut, prepare an answer that is factual and neutral. Keep your emotions out of it.
Forgetting to turn OFF your cell phone.
Before even entering the building, turn off your phone. Also while waiting for your interview to begin, you do not want to be seen scrolling through your phone. You may be so nervous that you then forget to turn it off. While waiting for your interview, flip through your resume and portfolio, not your phone. If you happen to forget to turn off your phone and it goes off during the interview, immediately apologize and turn it off.
Forgetting to bring your portfolio.
Bring extra copies of your resume to the job interview. Go the extra mile and get your resume printed off at a business supply store, on resume-grade paper. If you have pops of colour on your resume, get colour copies printed. You may also want to bring examples of your work. If you forget to bring your portfolio, send a follow-up email with samples of your work.
During the hiring process, your resume is only one piece of the puzzle. Resumes get you an interview, not the job. It’s the job interview that lands you the job.
Unfortunately, the interview is where people most people mess up.
Even the most fantastic resume and killer credentials can’t mask poor interviewing skills. The interview is where you must display confidence, stellar oral communication skills, and the ability to articulate the value that you bring.
1) WHEN JOB HUNTING, THIS IS NO TIME TO BE MODEST
When developing your resume and preparing for the job interview, this is no time for modesty. An error job candidates’ make is taking a too modest approach – especially at the interview stage. The interview is your time to shine! What makes you the best candidate? What value do you bring? What are your accomplishments and achievements? Now is the time to think about and recognize your achievements.
Talking about yourself in these terms is challenging, but you must practice talking about your achievements and value; this is the key to a successful job interview.
2) PREPARE. PREPARE. PREPARE
I appreciate that you’re busy and that preparing for a job interview is a time-consuming task; however, it will be noticeable to the interviewers if you have not prepared properly.
The interview question may sound straightforward; however, when coupled with interview anxiety it is easy to give an unstructured answer. If you do not adequately prepare, you may leave out vital details or let your answer simmer to a halt.
Start preparing by carefully reading the job posting and job description to identify what the employer is seeking. Once you have determined this, think of times when you have met the criteria. Next, write out your answers. Your answers must be specific and detailed. Your goal is to re-create the situation so that the interviewers can fully understand what occurred. When talking about your achievements, make them measurable; this adds more impact.
3) LEARN AS MUCH AS YOU CAN ABOUT THE COMPANY
Before going into an interview, it’s always a good idea to do as much research as you can. Review the company website and social media sites. What can you find in the news about the company? Does the company have a mission statement and or values? If so, know them!
4) THE INTRODUCTION
Be aware of your body language, eye contact and voice. When you walk in, make eye contact, smile and give firm handshakes.
5) THE END
Smile. Make eye contact. Thank the interviewers for their time. Have a question prepared.
Do you need help? Contact me – I am a Certified Interview Coach.
How to get your Resume Noticed
The job market is competitive, there’s no doubt about that. Your resume is usually your first chance to make a positive impression on the prospective employer, so taking time to re-write or re-design your resume is worth it. If you’re unsure or have no time, then hire a certified resume strategist. Polishing up your resume can make a big impact. Recruiters are often faced with stacks of resumes to sift through, making yours memorable will help to make you stand out.
Follow the Application Directions
This sounds simple; however, it seems that some do not take the time to actually read the instructions. For example, if the instructions are to attach your cover letter and resume as one file, then do that. Failure to follow the application directions speaks volumes and will most likely eliminate you from the process.
The font that you use does matter. Select a common and clean font so that it’s readable. The recommended resume fonts are Ariel, Helvetica, Tacoma and Veranda. Personally, I find that Times New Roman and Calibri lack a modern feel.
White space is your ally! Don’t clutter up your resume and try to jam everything onto one or two pages. This is visually overwhelming. Your resume must have white space so that it’s pleasing to the eye and encourages the reader to actually read your resume.
Delete the Resume Objective
It’s not about what you are seeking, it’s about the value that you bring. Instead, write a profile summary, which is a succinct paragraph summarizing the value that you bring. Be sure to read the job description so that you match your profile summary with what the employer is actually looking for.
Use Spell and Grammar Check
There cannot be any mistakes. None. Zero. Zilch.
Delete “Reference Available Upon Request”
If the hiring manager wants your references, then they will ask for them. Also, your references may not want their contact information available to all.
Many people dread writing cover letters, and some are under the mistaken belief that they do not matter. Think of your cover letter as the front cover of your marketing brochure. You are the product. You want to convince the prospective employer to open your brochure (flip the page to your resume) to further explore what you have to offer.
A well-written cover letter ranks you above other applicants and may mean the difference between hearing crickets and getting a call for an interview. This is an opportunity for you to give context to your resume. To some employer’s the cover letter is one of the most influential pieces of the application. Errors in your cover letter may mean that they do not flip the page to read your resume. A cover letter is an opportunity for you to demonstrate your writing and communication skills.
The Don’ts of Cover Letters
- An effective cover letter is NOT a repeat of your resume.
- DO NOT write a generic cover letter.
- DO NOT write about what you are seeking. It’s not about you, it’s about the value that you will bring.
- DO NOT use abbreviations, acronyms or informal language.
The Do’s of Cover Letters
- An effective cover letter IS concisely written and is TAILORED to the job description.
- Capture the reader’s attention, by highlighting your relevant skills, accomplishments, competencies and the value that you will bring the company.
- Explain what you can do for the company.
- A high-quality cover letter is reflective, complete, error-free, and clearly articulate why you are the best candidate for the position.
- Keep your cover letter to one page.
- Even if you are applying online, your cover letter should include your name and contact information, as well we the company’s name and address.
- DO proofread multiple times. Print it off and read your cover letter out loud to identify syntax errors. Ask a friend or family member to proofread.
Yes! First, customize your LinkedIn URL to delete the distracting numbers and letters that appear after your name.
Unsure how to change your LinkedIn URL? Click here for help.
Are you prepared to address an employment gap when asked?
This article can help you to articulate gaps in your resume.
St. Lawrence College – Kingston, Ontario