"Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure." Marianne Williamson

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Resumes, cover letters, and interviews

I remember when I embarked on a "career" in English teaching in Southeast Asia. My resume contained very little. I had a degree, a newly acquired TEFL, and a few hours interning at my TEFL training school. That was the extent of my teaching experience. But I was determined to go to Hanoi and teach and I did. I just wandered into schools and eventually got a job at $13 teaching bilingual Korean kids. On that note, here's some tips on interviews, cover letters and resumes.

1. Go where the work is plentiful.
2. Walking in and talking to someone face-to-face is better than phone, email, etc. Learn to be instantly likable, establish rapport quickly.
3. As much as the in-person interview is best, learn to be a persuasive writer and learn to tell and write stories.
4. Make your cover letter stand out by addressing directly the person reading it. The cover letter is less about you and more about what the employer needs - you need to convey how much the employer needs you.
5. In an interview, ask good, relevant questions not "How long is vacation?"
6. It's critical to get the employer responding to your calls or emails in the beginning. Asking questions they cannot ignore is a good trick. This requires research. If a place is worth working at it will only be determined through research.
7. Dress the part of the perfect employee! It's amazing what a costume, uniform, business suit does to the persona.
8. There are certain instances where your resume may contain gaps in employment or jobs you'd rather not mention. Learn how to redescribe or reframe these events. You'll see that this skill is one of the most valuable one you can ever learn.
9. In the vein of #8, there may be events at your last job that you'd rather not mention in an interview - you need to learn to reframe or redescribe these events. It's important to show self-awareness, self-respect, empowerment without resorting to blaming and negativity.
10. Things that add value to an organization: charisma, enthusiasm, team players, positive minds, insightful minds, resourceful minds, analytical minds, and soul. It's a cliche but heart, mind and soul are what every organization needs.
11. Heart. I think of "heart" in terms of compassion, determination, and guts.
12. Mind. "Mind" would be all the analytical skills, goal setting, principles, logic, and values.
13. Soul.