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When finding a job, a little dose of commonsense advice can help

Here is our advice on these topics.
/ Work / Finding a Job /

Few people prepare thoroughly enough for job interviews. If you put in the effort, you stand a very good chance of standing out from the crowd.

If you enter an interview with little knowledge of the company, you do not come across as a very serious candidate for a job. Researching a company is easy, especially for large corporations. The press should be filled with stories about them, and gaining access to many of these stories through the Internet is relatively easy. Moreover, even smaller companies now have websites that offer a wealth of information about their history, strategy, and current challenges. A second option is to get to know someone who works in the company with which you will interview, particularly someone who is in the same field that you seek to enter. The sort of inside knowledge they can provide you can be extremely valuable of all.

Use your knowledge of the company wisely. Don't just repeat what you read. If you can offer cogent observations and opinions, or if you can at least ask insightful questions, you are likely to impress the interviewer as a thinking person who can be a real contributor on the job.

Another common error, surprising as it may sound, is entering an interview without a clear message that you wish to deliver about yourself. As a supplement to your resume (but for your use only), you should write up "talking points" that elaborate on everything that you mention in the resume. Then, drill yourself constantly in delivering these elaborations until they become second nature. Not only will this give credence to your resume, but it will also help you appear polished, articulate, and quick thinking in an interview.

Additionally, you also should always carry a fully rehearsed "commercial" about yourself in your head that you can deliver in 60 seconds or less. Imagine that you are given a spot on the radio to let the audience know who you are, what you have to offer, and why hiring you (or promoting you, or giving you a crack at a new set of challenges at your current company) would be a deal that your listeners shouldn't pass up. Whenever an appropriate situation presents itself, which includes chance encounters with influential people in the halls, on an elevator, or on the street, you should be prepared to make your pitch. When you really get adept at this, you should have a few different "commercials" memorized, each tailored for different situations and audiences.

It is an error to believe that such preparations are only appropriate for people in management positions, or just those in white-collar work. People in blue-collar fields also can use these same devices to advance their own careers.

Finally, don't be embarrassed to practice your interview with friends and family. That experience will make a real interview a lot less stressful. Or, consider spending time with career coaches who can run you through mock interviews and critique your effectiveness in marketing yourself.
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