My first ever professional job began at the age of 13 when I begged my mom to transfer me back to my old middle school. Every day after school, I would walk to her work & match receipts to checks, not knowing that this job, & my amazing mother, would ultimately give me the gift of being highly employable.
Day after day, I watched in admiration as my mom moved up the ladder, in awe with each response to each frustrating circumstance & with serious pride as I witnessed the way she seamlessly handled the high turnover that often happened at the reception desk. She taught me how to dress, pressed me to learn to type quickly & the importance of organization in a busy office, but most importantly she unknowingly taught me how to stand out when applying for different jobs, & ultimately how to nail just about any job interview.
PART I: THE FIRST IMPRESSION
In today's digital world, many are unaware that a first impression still means everything. Whether you're taking in your resume or submitting it online, there are a variety of ways that you can stand out from the crowd, & that doesn't always mean a Bachelor's degree.
Coeur d'Alene & Spokane are still proudly full of locally owned & operated businesses, so if a job posting does not specifically say to apply online, I'd highly recommend submitting your resume in person if at all possible. This will give you the opportunity to possibly meet who you'll be working for, show them a little about who you are & ultimately give them an image of you working there.
- Don't Wear Jeans: This is the time to avoid wearing jeans or tank tops, to cover up some tattoos & piercings & really show them just how professional you can be - regardless of where you're applying. This will show them that you're serious about working for them, & that you respect them & the business they've built. *I cannot tell you how many resumes I've seen thrown out because the person applying came in wearing jeans!!*
- Bring Application, Cover Letter, Resume & References: This will show them that you are organized, prepared & potentially an 'Old Soul', which is always a good thing if you ask me.
- Be Ready For An Impromptu Interview: The odds are slim, but regardless you need to be prepared for anything! You can read about my interview recommendations below.
Standing out on a resume can be hard & quite honestly daunting, but it's incredibly important when applying for any position that's receiving hundreds of applications.
- ALWAYS Submit A Cover Letter, Resume & References with your application whenever possible. Many applicants will submit the bare minimum. Not only will you look like you've gone the extra mile, but they will know more about who you are & why they should hire you.
- Check All Social Platforms: Where do you look when you want to know more about someone? Yep, this is the world of Google. Browse through your social media profiles for any profanity, inappropriate photos & comments, etc., before submitting any applications. This means SO MUCH more than you know!!!
- Complete Your Profiles: Add an extra touch by updating any & all profiles with professional information about you, any projects you've completed, hobbies, passions. They don't know it yet, but you're secretly showing them that you can relate to them & your future coworkers in a wide variety of ways.
PART II: THE INTERVIEW
While I may always go into an interview being nervous, there are several thoughts & practices that have allowed me to put my mind at ease.
This may be the position of a lifetime or a job to simply get you back on your feet. Regardless, preparing for the interview can make all the difference. Here are a few things that will have you feeling ready for just about anything.
- Get To Know The Company. Take the time to Google the business that you're hoping to work for & make a few notes about what they do. Use their website & recent news to prepare for questions like, "Why do you want to work for us?" & write down a few questions you have about what you've discovered. *Remember, you're also interviewing them!*
- Sift Through Interview Questions. Do a little research on common interview questions that are asked. My personal favorite? "What is your greatest weakness?" I cannot tell you how many times I've been asked this in an interview. Don't worry, there are some amazing responses out there that can still make you look good!
- Read Everything Is Negotiable by Meg Myers Morgan. This book not only helped me through a few tough interview questions, but it changed my life!!! Highly, highly recommended, especially to all of the women out there who are struggling to negotiate their salaries.
- Find & Use Power Poses. Whether you find this cheesy or not, I highly suggest Googling some power poses to use just before the interview; while you're sitting in your car or before you leave the house. Power poses are proven to improve your confidence as you're headed into a job interview or daunting meeting.
It's Go Time!
Alright! Today's the day! Here are all of my favorite little details to get you through the next 30 minutes or so.
- Watch Your Clothing. As discussed in Part 1 above, show the utmost respect for your future employer, regardless of who they are, by wearing a very professional outfit. Avoid jeans & shirts with logos, cover your shoulders, hide piercings & tattoos. These can all be discussed during the interview, but can be professionally hidden until you know where they stand. *If you're doing a Zoom interview, please, PLEASE wear professional pants. It will help you feel more confident & save you in the event that you need to stand up during the interview.*
- Firmly Shake Hands. For when we are no longer in the middle of a pandemic, be sure to firmly shake hands (not too hard!) & look your interviewer in the eyes.
- Remember, You're Also Interviewing Them. This is not just about you gaining a potential life-altering career; it's also about them gaining a valuable employee. This means you're in control a little bit too.
- Ask Questions. Following most interviews, you'll find that they often ask if you have any questions. ALWAYS have questions. This shows them that you're not just looking for any job, you're looking for a job that fits you, AND you've done your research on their company.
Amy Riordan is a Coeur d'Alene Commercial Photographer & FAA Certified Drone Pilot specializing in helping small businesses succeed in online media. She is also a proud wife, dog mom, writer & runner.