When looking for a job, it’s difficult to think of anything besides résumés, cover letters, and interview questions. However, the devil is in the details, and that couldn’t be truer when deciding the next move in your career. From forgetting to send a simple “thank you” to applying for a job just because it seems like the next move, there are many easy mistakes one can make. From start to finish, we’ve got the 10 things to keep in mind, do, and say in order to make a good impression and raise your chances of furthering your career.
1. Don’t limit yourself
What you majored in during college is just a starting point. Furthermore, if you’re already working, you can switch careers at any time by leveraging your talents for the next role you assume. Don’t think that where you are is where you always need to be.
2. Don’t just look up
When thinking of career advancement, most people imagine a trajectory of upward mobility. Instead, some of the most challenging and exciting career opportunities may not be job-title upgrades, but lateral moves. Taking these opportunities may benefit you in the future. It’s not a straight shot to the top, so take the challenging roles you need in order to grow, rather than just excel.
3. Don’t be late
This is a no-brainer, yet so many interviewees mess this up. Being late, especially on a first interview, is something that will stand out—and not in a positive way. If you’re running late for whatever reason, send an apology email and make sure to call. Your (future) employer will appreciate this, and it will show that you’re taking this job opportunity seriously.
4. The receptionist is your friend
Or s/he needs to be. This is your first in-person point of contact at the company, so make it a good one. Once you leave the interview, she’ll be the one to disclose how you acted when “no one” was looking, and you want to make sure she has positive things to say.
5. Bring extra résumés
The person interviewing you will want a résumé. Their supervisor might want a résumé. The receptionist might ask for one to keep on file. Bring extras and estimate up. You’re going to need them in the future anyway, so you might as well come prepared. Nothing is worse than an interviewer asking for a copy and you reacting with, “Oh, sorry… I don’t have an extra.”
6. Don’t lie
When answering a question, it’s oftentimes easy to see when someone isn’t being completely truthful. If you don’t know something, be honest but polite, take your time answering questions, and prep for the “weakness” question. It’s true that our biggest weaknesses can be those that we are unaware of, so be honest about the ones you know.
7. Be nice
Bringing a potential hire in for an interview may start with a killer résumé or standout cover letter (or reference), but when it comes to actually getting the job, personality’s got a lot to do with it. You wouldn’t hire someone you don’t want to work with, so why would your employer? Remember to limit negative talk about past jobs and coworkers. The interviewer knows that how you perceive your past experiences will be a great indicator of your workplace attitude and mindset.
8. Stand out
Invest time in your interests and hobbies because these will not only make your life more fun but will also make you a unique candidate for jobs. How you spend your free time says a lot to an employer, which is why the question, “What do you do in your spare time?” always comes up. Take the time you have to evolve and grow in areas you love, and one day, these qualities could come in handy when applying for a job you might not otherwise be qualified for.
9. Ask questions
Do research on the company and your interviewer. Coming to an interview prepared is one thing, but coming with knowledge about where the company has been and what the overall vision is, that’s a whole new ball game. Ask questions about your role, but also think about the job overall. Ask your boss what they see the biggest problem as and then think up solutions to fix it. You can voice these either immediately or carry them out throughout your time at the company.
10. Send a thank you
This is a quick and surefire way to leave a good impression on anyone, especially a potential boss. After the interview, take a moment in your car or on your commute to sit and craft a quick email that is concise, thanks the interviewer, and expresses interest in the job. Many candidates don’t do this, and an employer will take note of when someone does.
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