Pittsburg Independent Learning Center (PILC)
CREATING YOUR RESUME
A resume is a summary of your skills, accomplishments, experiences, and education designed to help employers understand if you are a good fit for their job opening. Here is the common anatomy of a resume:
CCC Resume Template COMING SOON
It’s been said that recruiters (or hiring managers) spend an average of just six seconds looking at your resume before deciding to keep reading or pass on you, so it’s important to make those seconds count! Here’s how:
- Keep it simple, professional, and easy to read. Bulleted lists, plain fonts, and proper grammar and spelling all help with this.
- Tailor your resume for each position you apply for. To make this easy on yourself, create a master resume that includes all of your experience, then cut and paste certain items for each resume you submit.
- Use some of the keywords from the job description so it’s easy to tell how you match what they’re looking for. But be honest in what you list – the truth always comes out.
- Ask a family member or your school counselor to look over your resume for content and grammar. Simple mistakes can often cost you.
CREATING YOUR COVER LETTER
A cover letter introduces you and your resume to your potential employer. It allows you to show personality, curiosity, and an interest in the field you are applying to work in. Here is the common anatomy of a cover letter:
Here are some tips to make your cover letter stand out:
- Do your homework—research the organization’s needs, mission, and goals to discover how your skills and background align. You can look at the employer’s website, talk with teachers and family, or read news articles.
- Put yourself in the employer’s shoes and shape your letter around their requirements. The job description will provide their perspective on their needs so take advantage of this and highlight your strengths in these areas.
- Keep it short and to the point. 3 or 4 short paragraphs should be enough to make your case.
- Proofreading goes a long way, and just like with the resume, mistakes can be a simple way for the employer to disqualify you.
COMMON INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
Chances are you’ll be asked these questions in one form or another. Besides preparing for these, it’s a good idea to analyze the job description and try to figure out what questions the company may ask you based on their requirements and the job duties.
Tell me about yourself.
The interviewer is looking for an overview of your professional background. For students, this should be more forward thinking and focus on what you would like to do in your career and how you landed there. Stay away from personal information unless it relates to why you’ve chosen a certain path.
Why did you leave your previous jobs?
Be honest and stay positive. If you were fired, share how you’ve grown and how you approach your job and life now as a result. Try to position the learning experience as an advantage for this job and company.
Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?
The goal here is to show that you have a career plan and ambition .The interviewer wants to know your thought process and what’s important to you. Stay away from personal information.
Why do you want to work here?
This is where your research comes in. The interviewer wants to see what you’ve learned about the company and that there is substance in your answer. It’s easy to say you want to work there; you have to back it up.
Why should I hire you?
Summarize what you have to offer the company as it relates to the position, rather than what you want from the company. There are likely other people interviewing for the same position so it’s important for you to show the company why you are the best candidate.
Tell me about your proudest accomplishment. What challenges did you face and how did you overcome them?
The interviewer can learn a lot about you with this question. They want to see a pattern of achievement, and your thought-process on setting and reaching your goals. They will also want to know how you dealt with obstacles so be ready to discuss those too – just remember to stay positive.
What are your strengths/weaknesses?
It’s easy to talk about our strengths, just be sure to have examples prepared to show them. To talk about our weaknesses can be tricky, so it’s important to think about this one ahead of time. You can find a weakness that is not crucially related to the particular job, or you can discuss a weakness that you are correcting and explain how. They want to see that you are self-aware, honest, and proactive.
What experience do you have with __________?
You can fill in the blank with something from the job description. If you don’t have direct experience with the item listed, be honest, and try to find something related that you do have experience with.
When are you available to start?
Think about this ahead of time and be ready with a date, or at least a timeframe.
What questions do you have for me?
Be prepared! Your questions will demonstrate your interest and thoughtfulness which the interviewer appreciates.
QUESTIONS TO ASK DURING YOUR INTERVIEW
When the interviewer asks “Do you have any questions for me?”, your answer better be “YES!”
1. What is a typical day like at [company name]?
Asking about operations and learning the “lay of the land” shows your dedication to the company and attention to detail. Hiring managers often will start by explaining basic schedules, events, and projects. Don't expect — or push for — detailed explanations about clients and projects. They still have to protect intellectual property. Focus more on the company's atmosphere and the people. Ask about newsletters, company picnics, and other initiatives meant to bring the company together. Executives love to brag about their connection with the team, so they should be happy to answer this question.
2. What are the next steps in the interview process?
Asking about the next steps shows you are optimistic and want the job. Hiring managers appreciate a good sense of self-esteem. Just don't seem too eager, as over-confidence may translate as arrogance. Asking about the next steps also helps with determining the follow-up protocols and prevents you from worrying whether it's too soon to check back in.
3. What do you expect from team members in this position?
Job descriptions often are nothing more than marketing jargon used to peak interest in a position, and sometimes the intricate requirements are neglected. Asking this question in an interview helps you determine what you're going to be doing and what is expected of you. Hiring managers expect and respect these questions. Asking them to explain the job requirements in detail shows you care about the position, like to know all the facts before making a decision, and have the courage to ask the difficult questions.
4. Where do you see the company in five years?
This question serves two purposes. First, we all want stability, and the hiring manager's answer will serve to tell you just how stable the company is. Who wants to work for an organization that will lay off team members in the near future? Asking this question also tells the hiring manager you care about the company and want to build a lasting relationship. Hiring managers aim to hire long-term candidates who are willing to stick around for more than a couple of years
WHAT TO WEAR FOR YOUR INTERVIEW?
Your clothing plays a supporting role in an interview. You want it to be noticed, but it should never take center stage! Here are some tips:
- Keep your outfit simple. Avoid pieces that have words on them, have slits in the fabric, or shirts that come off the shoulder.
- Your clothes should not be too tight, too short or too revealing. A skirt or dress should cover your thighs when seated.
- Tank tops with spaghetti straps should only be worn under a sweater or jacket.
- Dark jeans are okay when paired with a more formal top and pair of shoes.
- Make sure your clothes are clean and presentable. Iron wrinkled clothes as needed.
- Make sure your fingernails are neat and clean – you don’t want to show up with chipped nail polish or dirty fingernails.
- Avoid distracting accessories.
- Keep your hair and makeup simple and understated. Eye makeup that is too heavy will look like you are ready for a night out on the town.
- Don’t forget your morning deodorant and go easy on the perfume.
- Removing distracting piercings and covering up noticeable tattoos will allow for people to see you first, not your nose ring and elaborate butterfly tattoo.
- Polo shirts, button-downs, and sweaters are great options when going without a jacket. Keep the patterns simple, if not solid.
- Slacks aren’t necessary. Dark, tailored jeans, khakis, and corduroys are all good options with nice dress shoes or boots.
- Make sure your clothes are clean and presentable. Iron wrinkled clothes as needed.
- Make sure your fingernails are neat and clean.
- Wear a belt, it makes you look polished. And no sagging – your pants need to cover your underwear, not display them.
- Wear long, dark-colored socks with your dress shoes, not white ones.
- Keep your jewelry minimal. A nice, simple watch is okay.
- Don’t forget your morning deodorant and go easy on the cologne.
- Keep your hairstyle simple.
- Removing distracting piercings and covering up noticeable tattoos will allow for people to see you first, not your nose ring and elaborate tattoo.
- Youtube Link "How to tie a tie" - the four in hand knot: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9BMhFmNzw-o
Interview Do's and Don'ts
Interviews are used to get to know you and assess your skills related to the position available.
- Learn all that you can about the company, industry, and your interviewers ahead of time. This shows the employer that you’re interested and prepared.
- Prepare a list of questions for the employer. These should be thoughtful questions that you couldn’t easily find answers to on the internet.
- Dress neatly and conservatively. It’s always better to be over-dressed than under-dressed.
- Bring a few copies of your resume and references to the interview. It’s also a good idea to bring some paper for taking notes.
- Arrive early, and treat everyone you meet with the same respect – companies often ask secretaries or other staff for their opinions in the hiring decision.
- Listen carefully to the questions the interviewers are asking and make sure your responses are direct and honest. The interviewer will want to understand the details in your answers, but be careful not to ramble on or get off-topic. If you do not understand a question, it’s perfectly fine to ask them to repeat or rephrase it.
- Be aware of your non-verbal behaviors – sit up tall, smile, and make eye contact. Over half of our communication is non-verbal so it’s important to be mindful of this.
- Be enthusiastic and confident, but not aggressive or arrogant. It’s a fine line!
- Ask what the next steps will be before leaving the interview.
- Thank the interviewers at the time, and follow up with a thank-you note or thank you email within 48 hours.
- Expect your resume or application to do the selling for you; you need to sell yourself to the interviewers.
- Let the interviewer’s casual style tempt you to ‘let your guard down.’ It’s important to remain professional.
- Forget your manners. Don’t interrupt the interviewer, answer your phone, eat, chew gum, etc.
- Make negative comments about previous employers, teachers, etc. Even if asked directly, make sure you remain positive and only provide constructive information.