Q. I’m getting job interviews but not receiving offers. Is there anything I can do to change that?
A. I assume from your question that the interviews are with companies, as opposed to recruiters, and that they are in-person rather than phone interviews. In addition, the company has seen your résumé prior to interviewing you. This means that your résumé is working. Companies, maybe even recruiters, like your background, experience and skills enough to want to meet you so I wouldn’t change a résumé that is working. The problem then is most likely your interviewing skills.
My guess is that you have not done enough preparation in this area. When I coach executives with this issue, the first place we start is by filming the person while I interview them. I suggest you try this. People are amazed at how different they look on video from how they perceive themselves. For example, some studies indicate as much as 70% of communication is nonverbal, i.e. body language. When you review the video, what is your body language saying? How are you sitting in the chair? I know candidates always think they are looking the interviewer in the eyes when answering, however, often the video reveals something different. You will hear exactly how you communicate in your own words. How often do you use the word “like” or “uh” to connect sentences? Do you actually answer the question asked or the one you want to answer? Seeing yourself in an interview may solve your issues.
Q. Should I use a cover letter with my résumé and is there a preferred format?
A. I recommend having a cover letter. As a recruiter, I’m interested in your résumé way more than a cover letter. I have spoken with many executives and HR professionals that expect a cover letter. The important thing to remember about a cover letter is that it is not an extension of your résumé, an addendum to your résumé or held to the same standards as a résumé. Candidates often think because they included something in the cover letter, they don’t have to include it in the resume. Wrong. A cover letter is just that, a letter. It highlights points of interest relevant to the position you are applying for. If something is mentioned in the cover letter, it is imperative that it is also presented in the résumé.
I prefer a one-page, two-column cover letter. One column is titled, “What you seek” and the second column is, “My experience.” This format makes it easy for the reader to quickly align your experience with their needs so they will want to read your résumé. After all, there is only one purpose for a cover letter, which is getting the reader excited enough to read your résumé.
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I welcome your comments.