Listed below are three basic rules that will help you become a successful candidate. Remember, however, that you need not be offered a job in every case to consider yourself successful. Rather, you are successful if you keep the job search process going in a professional manner. In working with countless people in the process of looking for a job, I have concluded that, for those who are currently unemployed, the full-time job should be just that: looking for a job. For those who currently have a job, but are openly seeking a better position with new challenges or a higher salary, take comfort in knowing you are working from a position of strength; use that knowledge to add to your self-esteem. In all cases, see yourself from the employer’s point of view. In their eyes, you are a more likely candidate if you behave professionally before and after the interview (with appropriate inquiry and follow-up—more on that later) and if you interact appropriately during the interview itself. As you continue to look for a job, remember the following tips for success:
1. When you call about a job prospect, get as much information as you can about the position and the company—including the name of the person doing the interviewing. Don’t be put off by feelings of anxiety—you have a right to “interview” them too. If possible, go to the library and research the company. By the time of your interview, you will feel more confident—and less anxious—because you will have resources from which to draw during your conversation.
2. If you have time to mail your resume before your scheduled interview, do so. But be sure to include a cover letter as well. While the resume gives background information about you, the cover letter explains why you are writing and briefly describes what makes you a good candidate for the job. Don’t allow low self-esteem to make you afraid to “sell yourself!” Only you can say why you would be an asset to the company. And one more thing—write the letter to a particular person, not “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Sir or Madam.” Most of the time, a prospective employer’s receptionist is willing to tell you exactly whom to contact. Use courtesy titles (“Dear Mrs. Smith”), unless the person is someone you already know on a first-name basis.
3. Do follow up. An appropriate measure of assertiveness goes a long way. Most employers appreciate someone who is diligent and communicates a genuine interest in the position. But don’t be aggressive. Limit your contact to a follow-up note, a phone call two weeks later, and perhaps a third one a few weeks after that. Be sure to let them know that if another, more appropriate, position comes along, you would be interested to learn about it. Again, by communicating properly and creating your own opportunities, you can achieve some control over your own destiny.