At Laufer, we know that candidates like a variety of resources and tools to support them during the job search process. This section includes select resources created by our seasoned recruiters to help our candidates be prepared and confident.
Know the Company: Spend time researching the organization you are visiting. Of course, you will need to know the exact location of your interview, but you will also want to read through the company website to get a basic understanding of its business. And, be sure that you know what to expect of the interview, including the exact name(s) of the people you will be meeting, the format, and likely duration of the interview.
Know Yourself: Spend 30 minutes reviewing your experience and its relevance to the position. Refresh your memory regarding details of your work history and specific achievements. It is often helpful to practice the answers to questions that you anticipate being asked. Keep in mind that you will be expected to know a lot about a company for which you have previously worked.
Dressing for the Interview: Dressing appropriately generally means wearing smart, office attire. Your Laufer recruiter can tell you if it is any different for the specific company that you are visiting. Research indicates that first impressions do count, so paying attention to all facets of grooming does matter.
At the Interview: It is smart to arrive a few minutes early. Naturally, be polite to everyone you meet. When greeting the interviewer, shake hands firmly. Smile and look your interviewer in the eye. Sit upright and look alert and interested at all times. Be a good listener as well as an articulate speaker. Expect some experience-related and job-specific interview questions and be prepared with a few of your own. Your Laufer recruiter can provide you with a more comprehensive list of possible questions.
- Don’t be late
- Don’t exaggerate or embellish answers
- Don’t criticize present or former employers
- Don’t stray off the point
- Don’t interrupt the interviewer
- Don’t inquire about salary, time off or benefits (Your Laufer recruiter will help you negotiate this.)
Closing the Interview: Always conduct yourself as if you are determined to get the job you are discussing. If you are interested in the position, make sure you let the interviewer know. Thank the interviewer for his/her time and consideration of you.
After the interview: Write a thank you letter to the person who interviewed you. This could be the step that seals the deal. Be professional, original, determined, and thankful. These can be emailed or hand written, but should be completed immediately after the interview so it gets to them before they make their hiring decision.
In addition, it is important to learn from every interview and to improve for the next. Make a list of questions you answered well and those you answered poorly, thinking about how you could have responded differently. At this point, it is time to call your Laufer recruiter to share your feedback and to find out any client feedback.
Of course, your Laufer recruiter will guide you through each step of the process, available to answer all of your questions so you are at your confident best.
Writing an Effective Resume
At Laufer, we put all of our collective resources and experience to work so you will be successful in your job search. An important tool in the process is your resume, and you have full control of that. While your resume is not the complete and glorious “you” by any stretch of the imagination, you need to spend the time to ensure that it captures and highlights the most relevant and compelling facets of your experience and background. Here are some tips that the expert recruiters at Laufer have prepared for you:
Point of View: Hiring managers – and recruiters – tend to move quickly as they assess resumes. When writing your resume, always look at it from their point of view. Ask yourself some key questions: What do they want to see? – and include it. What is irrelevant to them? – and delete it. What will develop interest and excitement about you as a potential candidate? Keep in mind that reviewers often use resumes to screen people “out” rather than “in.” So, the first person looking at your resume for a specific job may only be working off a criteria checklist and is not always the person doing an interview.
Length: We recommend that you keep your resume to a maximum of two pages. If it is any longer, you risk losing your audience.
Language and Style: Use clear, concise terms with active words that emphasize your strengths (e.g. accomplished, created, enhanced, launched, negotiated). We suggest that you opt for brief points or bullets rather than a narrative style. And, avoid initials and jargon.
Content: Please do not write a novel. Be factual and succinct, and aim to encourage further interest in your application or an in-person meeting. Also, it is vital that you are as specific as you can be, using numbers or percentages to illustrate achievements. Your resume should tell prospective employers everything that might interest them without wasting their time.
Editing: Proofread for typos, spelling and grammatical errors and then ask someone else to double-check your resume for you. People do notice mistakes – even the little ones – to the detriment of your application.
Formatting: Use a clear, legible format on good quality plain paper. Only use colored paper, borders or design effects if you work in a creative field. Keep plenty of white space, so do not attempt to cram extra info onto the page.
Contact Information Heading: Present clear identifying information, including your name, address, and all telephone numbers and email addresses. An ideal location for this section is on the top right side of your first page, so it is instantly visible to someone flipping through a pile of hard-copy resumes.
Career details: Start with your current or most recent employment and work in reverse chronological order. Anything more than 10 years ago can be summarized into a couple of lines.
Achievements: Give plenty of thought to what you have achieved that will make you stand out and will indicate the benefits you can bring to the role. Provide key details and be prepared to expand on these in an interview.
Personal details: Provide only relevant information here that supports your candidacy for the particular job. Include education, if not in a separate section, memberships, language and technical skills, and other topical interests.
Key Spots: Consider the placement of facts and sections. The location with most impact and visibility is the second quarter of the first page, so don’t waste it. Similarly, think about what you place in less significant spots because readers’ interest typically wanes by halfway through page two.
Honesty: It is the best – and only – policy here. Do not try to enhance your experience or qualifications. If your experience cannot stand up to scrutiny in the interview, your chance of getting the job drops to zero.
If you have any further questions about writing the resume that best represents you, please call us. We will happily help you.
- Keep in mind that networking is about being genuine and authentic, building trust and relationships, and seeing how you can help others.
- Become known as a resource for others. When you are known as a strong resource, people remember to turn to you for suggestions, ideas, names of other people, etc., which keeps you visible to them.
- Ask open-ended questions in networking conversations to open up the discussion and show listeners that you are interested in them. Such questions begin with the words "who, what, where, when, and how" -- as opposed to those that can be answered with a simple "yes or no."
- Be able to articulate what you are looking for and how others may help you. Too often people in conversations ask, "How may I help you?" and no immediate answer comes to mind.
- Hold volunteer positions in organizations that you have an affiliation with and passion for – alma maters, non-profits of interest, etc. This is a great way to stay visible and give back to groups that have helped you.
- Remember to reach out to your family and friends. Don’t forget your own backyard – your family and friends who may have a connection to the industry or specific company that you are interested in. Asking to get together to share ideas or for an informational interview can be a great way to learn more and make progress.
- Consider attending formal networking meetings. Be sure to understand your goals for such meetings so that you will pick groups that will help you get what you are looking for. Groups vary; some are more based more on learning, or making contacts, or volunteering or making business connections.
- Visit as many networking groups as possible that spark your interest. Notice the tone and attitude of the group. Do the people sound supportive of one another? Does the leadership appear competent? Many groups will allow you to visit two times before joining.
What to Expect On Your First Day as a Temporary Employee
At Laufer, we know that your first day as a temporary employee can be stressful. It is all new to you, and you want to do your best. You got the job because of your skills, experience and personality. Now, your Laufer recruiter will be available to support you on your first day – and beyond, of course – as you set out to do your new job.
We recommend that you aim to arrive early – 15 minutes or so. This additional time will give you an opportunity to take in your new surroundings, settle down, and leave some leeway if you should run into any delays. If you do run into traffic or are late for any reason, you should call your Laufer recruiter who will then notify the client of your delay.
We know your morning will be busy, as you learn more about your new position and meet the people whom you will be working with. Your Laufer recruiter will look forward to a call from you on your lunch break to check in and let us know how your day is going.
You will submit a signed timesheet by the end of the business day on Fridays. Paychecks are mailed or direct deposited to you every Friday as well.
We know that many temporary employees are also in the process of finding permanent positions. If you need to schedule interviews, please try to hold them in the early morning, late afternoon or at lunch. Keep in mind, of course, that it is important to do your best work at all times. We have experienced many occasions when a company has decided to offer a role permanently to a temporary employee.
While every first day is different, you can be sure of one thing – that your Laufer recruiter will be available to support you in your role.
Perfecting Your Handshake
Why It's Important
The second you walk through the door for your interview, you are being interviewed. Are you wearing a suit? What is your body language? Are you doing everything you can to make yourself stand out from the pack, before you even open your mouth? The handshake is imperative because following your outward appearance, your handshake is the first impression you make. Your handshake sets the tone for the next sixty (or so) minutes.
In a recent study of 98 college students, researchers found that "students with high scoring handshakes were the same ones the interviewers viewed most hireable" (careerbuilder.com).
There are common assumptions people make when they receive a firm handshake-- confidence, self-assurance, interest, focus, and drive. On the other side of the spectrum, a weak handshake can bring negative perceptions-- insecurity, intimidation, distraction, hesitancy, and disinterest.
Just think, no one is ever going to think poorly of you for a firm handshake, but you are taking a risk with a weak one.
How It Should Be Done
The first thing to remember about a handshake isn't related to your hand at all, but rather, your eyes. Make eye contact with the person you are about to join hands with. Hold your eyes steady and introduct yourself, "Hello, I'm Cristin Skjegstad. It's so nice to meet you!" Concurrently, you should be reaching out to grasp their hand. From the wise words of Julie Laufer, "Pretend like you are pulling someone out of a ditch. That's how firm your grip should be." Your hand won't feel like a limp fish, but you're not injuring their hand either.
As the old saying goes, practice makes perfect. Whether you practice with your sister, father, best friend, boyfriend, wife, or one of us here at Laufer, working on your handshake can only make it better. Before you know it, you won't even think twice about your handshake. You'll be a natural in no time!
How to Answer Difficult Interview Questions
The unavoidable question, "Why did you leave your last job?" is something that can even frighten the most confident candidate. Whether you left on good terms or bad terms, this question still puts you on the spot. Although it's difficult, answering this question might not be as painful to answer as you think.
What the person interviewing you is really interested in is hearing about how your skills match up with their position and you why think you are a fit. By following these simple rules, you might find that answering this question is a breeze.
Your interviewer will probably catch on if you're telling a lie, or they will find out later in the process, which could make the situation even worse. And of course, it's always better to be truthful anyway. Just because your last employer fired you, doesn't mean you're out of the running. Your best bet is explain what you learned and showcase what you have gained from your positions. Mistakes can be overlooked if you admit to them and prove how you have made positive changes, which brings me to my next point...
Even if you have spent the last two years of your life working for the delegating, degrading, you better order my Starbucks heated to exactly 150 degrees with extra whip and caramel, type of person; you never want to walk into your interview complaining and ranting. It is never a good idea to make yourself out to be the victim. It's fine to say the position was not a good fit, but make sure you are prepared to answer why-with good reasons, i.e. the position didn't make the best use of your skills.
Keep it Short
You don't need to ramble on and on about the question. Once it's answered, it's answered. If you continue to speak, you are likely to spill information that isn't necessary. If you're leaving on good terms and are simply looking for a new position, that's really all you need to say. If the interviewer would like more information, then they will ask you.
Focus on the New Job
As I mentioned before, you're here to get a new job-not relive your previous job. Focus on what you want out of the new role and what you can bring to the table. Highlight duties from the new position that spark your interest and tie them into some previous achievements of yours. What does their company need and what does the position need from you? Tell them exactly what you have to help better their business.
Plan ahead and get several great references in order. Even though you may have left your last job on a sour note, there should be someone who can vouch for all of your hard work. If you simply cannot get a reference from someone at your last job, make sure your back-up references are stellar. The last thing you want is for someone to provide a lack-luster reference. Be sure your references' contact information is current and that they are aware that they may be receiving a call.
Remember, take every chance you get to showcase your interest in the position, your personality, and your very best qualities. So, don't dwell on this "difficult question," and simply follow these suggestions. Hopefully you will find that you flew through the fire and landed yourself an extraordinary new job.
Thank You Letters
Here are some dos and don'ts for maximizing your success through the written word:
Express Heartfelt Enthusiasm
Make sure the person you are writing to knows that you are interested in the position. This is a great place to express how much you truly want the position. It is also important to explain why you are interested in the position. Why do you think you are a good fit?
Helpful Hint: You never want to sound desperate. Here is an example of some expressed enthusiasm, "I feel as though I am an excellent candidate for the executive assistant role and believe I have many of the qualities the position requires. I hope I get the chance to show you and the rest of your team how I will perform to my maximum capabilities and adapt to each situation with care and determination."
Address Unresolved Points
Perhaps there was a point during your interview where you answered a question differently than you had planned, or perhaps you forgot to mention something altogether. Your thank you letter is a place where you can bring up these unresolved points.
Helpful Hint: Think of a transition to introduce any unresolved points, for example, "In the time we spoke together, we discussed how the company has taken on new technologies. I pride myself on my ability to work with both Mac and PC operating systems, as well as Microsoft Office programs for both technologies."
Find something to write in your letter that you remember about the person who interviewed you. You do not want your thank you letter to sound generic (something you send out after every interview).
Helpful Hint: Whether you found out how they got started with the company, or learned that your interviewer is a marathon runner, it is always nice to add some kind of personal touch. For example, "As an aspiring Project Manager, I admire your ability to manage several different projects at a time and still find time to train for the Boston Marathon."
Reiterate Your Expertise
Emphasize your strengths. Your recruiter has shared feedback with you on your performance during the interview. You have the inside scoop as to what strengths the company is hoping to identify. Here's the chance to highlight those abilities. If the majority of your experience has been in marketing, and the job you just interviewed for requires strong html language and specific market knowledge, perhaps you might highlight a market trend discovered in a recent article that may be of interest to your recruiter and tie it to your strength. Make it yours by thinking out of the box and lending a refreshing perspective to your letter.
Helpful Hint: Here is a quick example, "Throughout the past three years, I have worked on over thirty marketing projects, including consumer and business marketing, as well as many others. I feel as though my experience in the marketing field can greatly benefit your business. I included an article on the trend you and I discussed that I thought you might find helpful."
Highlight Your Success
Brag, boast, toot your horn! This may be your last opportunity to describe how you are an amazing catch!
Helpful Hint: "During my internship at JP Morgan, I was awarded "Top Intern of 2010" and feel as though the work I put into earning this award was not only beneficial for my future success, but was also valuable to JP Morgan."
Proofread! (Ask for a second set of eyes - your recruiter is here for you!)
We can't tell you how many times it's happened: The candidate is in the top tier for consideration. The call comes from our client: the thank you letter had typos, or it was grammatically lacking finesse and the prospect of an offer is now off the table. Devastating? Yes, because it was absolutely avoidable. Spelling and grammatical errors are not acceptable.
Helpful Hint: Don't rely on automatic spell-check and grammar corrections. Do not text your thank you notes. In the interest of getting the letter off quickly, do not compose your letter when you are tired or uninspired. This will be reflected in your letters. Do make sure you have a second set of trusted eyes to give the final approval to your final missive - this is the document that lands your next position.
A hand delivered, hand-written thank you note is a nice touch in an ever-increasingly competitive market and may be the very thing that separates you from the rest of the crowd. Try it.
Finally, indicate the gratitude you feel for time your interviewer has allotted you through an earnest conclusion in your letter. Most companies believe candidates want the job they are interviewing for, but how will you show them you are the worthiest candidate for hire? Following these steps is a good start.
Although you may think the "art of being thankful" is something that does not need to be practiced, your future employers will beg to differ. So, set aside some time soon after your interview and make sure to hit all of these points.