Think you are ready for the job search? Take a quiz to test your job search readiness and see how you rank.
- Should you customize your resume for every job posting? Y or N
- Should you include the statement “References Available upon Request” at the bottom of your resume? Y or N
- How many different fonts are recommended to use on your resume? 1, 2, or 3
- Is it recommended to start your cover letter with the greeting, “Dear Sir or Madam” when you don’t have a specific name? Y or N
- Is it OK if your resume exceeds one page? Y or N
- Can you ask the interviewer to pay for your parking? Y or N
- Is using the internet your best job search strategy? Y or N
- Is it advisable to ask questions in the interview? Y or N
- Is a phone screen considered a ‘real’ interview? Y or N
- Should you include your references when you apply for a job? Y or N
Bonus question: Is it acceptable to include a personal picture or a logo on your resume and/or cover letter? Y or N
“Why should we hire YOU?” Before walking into any interview, I strongly recommend that you have the answer to this question rolling right off of your tongue. Why? Because you are going to get asked this question or one like it and you want to knock the interviewer’s socks off with a strong well thought out response.
You might also get asked:
- Why are you the right fit for this position ?
- What would you bring to this position that other candidates won’t?
- What makes you the best candidate for this job?
- What are your strengths?
Whichever question you get asked, it is your opportunity to share why you are the best candidate for this job. Give a concise confidant summary of your top 3-5 strengths or selling points and back them up with related examples, accomplishments, or success stories. My recommendation is to develop a standard response that can be tweaked a bit for different positions.
Consider using a combination of any of these items:
“Tell me a little about yourself?” This is one of the interview questions I recommend you have nailed before you walk into any interview. Why? Because you know you are going to get asked this and if you have a less than compelling answer, it can set the tone for your entire interview. Don’t waste your first 60 seconds summarizing your resume, they’ve got that. This is an opportunity for you to emphasize why you are the best candidate for this job. Give a concise summary of how you are good fit and back it up with sharing related accomplishments.
The interviewer asks this question because he/she is trying to assess quickly 1) if you CAN do this job, 2) if you WILL do this job, and 3) if you are a good FIT for this job.
Your answer should be a concise summary of the best of you and how it relates to the position you are interviewing for. This is not a one size fits all answer. It needs to be crafted and practiced for each and every position you interview for. Keep it to about 60 seconds and focus on your strongest selling points for the position.
Q: I recently attended a conference and I found that I was not as prepared as I’d like to be with knowing what questions to ask employers or other professionals. Can you help me? Thanks.
A: This is such a great question. I am glad you asked for suggestions as I know how difficult and uncomfortable it can be when you can’t easily think of questions. Here are my recommendations. Choose questions that feel right for you so you sound natural and conversational versus rehearsed.
Q: I am a SJSU SLIS grad and had a question about how to handle being out of the workforce for a couple years. I am planning on staying home with my kids and am wondering the best way to convey that gap on my resume once I am trying to get back into the workforce? Should I explain the gap and if so how?
A: When you find yourself out of the workforce for a while, you want to be sure to continue to stay connected to the work world in some way. That might mean volunteering, working part-time or working on a project or contract basis or getting involved at your kid’s school for example. Try to continue doing something that allows you to demonstrate your skills or develop new ones. Think big in terms of paid and unpaid experiences as both of these can add value to your resume. Choose your activities with purpose and think about how you can include the experience on your resume and how you can communicate the value of what you did to a potential employer. In doing this, you won’t really have a gap on your resume because you will account for your less than full-time work experience with other activities that show how you stayed connected to the world of work.
As SLIS Career Center Liaison, I was recently invited to share job search tips and other career advice on how to land your ideal library job during a recent webinar hosted by American Libraries. Myself, Bohyun Kim – digital access librarian at Florida International University Medical Library in Miami, who blogs at LibraryHat and host David Connolly, who co-manages the ALA JobList website, participated in the lively discussion. You can view the session recording, or read highlights from the discussion on our School’s new student blog. Enjoy!
Q: I did my best in the interview and I thought I had nailed it but I didn’t get the job. I even asked for feedback and they said I did extremely well. I don’t know what else to do.
A: Unfortunately, even when you do your best in an interview, it doesn’t mean you will always get the job. There are many qualified candidates in the talent pool. But please don’t lose hope.
As hard as it is, don’t take it personally when you know you did your best in the interview. There can be many reasons why you didn’t get the job and many of them are out of your control. Hashing out all of the possible “what-if’s” is not the most productive use of your time.
Instead, focus on the things you can improve and move past the disappointment. Keep a positive attitude and definitely keep on interviewing. After each interview, evaluate what you did well and what you would like to improve on for the next time. The more you interview, the better your odds of hearing, “You’re hired!”
Q: I have some very specific things that I will be looking for in a career once I complete the program. I'm constantly reviewing job postings, background info on professionals in the industry and reading up on current trends. But I can't really identify an exact position that I want.
Also, I'm concerned that the broad types of classes I plan to take will make me a Jack of All Trades, Master of None. As an undergrad student, I didn't allow myself to explore much outside of my major (Communications) and I found that it pigeon-holed me in the job market. I don't want to make that same mistake, but I also don't want a potential employer to dismiss me for not having enough specific experience. I know I'm not completely hopeless, just in dire need of some direction.
A: Thank you for your message. You are doing all of the right things at this point in terms of reviewing job descriptions, researching the backgrounds of professionals and staying on top of industry trends. Keep doing this.
Q: I have worked for the same employer for the past three years, but was promoted from Circulation Specialist to Head of Circulation nine months ago.
I currently have two separate entries for this on my resume: one for each position held. However, I’m concerned that if a prospective employer is skimming my resume quickly they may not notice that both positions are with the same employer. They may then assume that I’ve been job-hopping. However, I’m not sure how to lump them together without being dishonest or incredibly wordy in describing multiple positions. I haven’t been a department head for the entire three years – or is it acceptable to only list the highest position held? I’m not sure how to list two positions held with one employer.
A: This is a great question. One easy way to handle this is to write…
Head of Circulation, Company Name, City, State, include total dates here from when you started with the company to present
Q: How early is too early to arrive for my interview and do I need to send a thank you letter afterwards?
A: It is best to arrive 10-15 minutes prior to your scheduled interview time. Any earlier and your interviewer might get annoyed. Any later becomes a reflection on your time management skills.
I think the best scenario is to give yourself plenty of time to get to the interview so you don’t feel rushed or anxious about getting lost, dealing with unexpected traffic, or figuring out where to park. You can always wait in your car for a bit, look over your notes, take a few deep breaths, and compose yourself before you head into the interview.