2004/11a: Ask Me
Q&A 16 years ago No Comments

I am graduating this year, and I am trying to gather my materials for my portfolio and resume. I was wondering if you had any suggestions on other sites or books that might help me find the inspiration I am looking for to make me stick out from the rest of the crowd!

(submitted by Alison M.)

The fact you took the time to ask about ways to stand out and separate yourself is a great first step. Most people are very content to be average.

When looking for a position, simply remember it is about how you will fit in with the team already assembled. To be able to understand this, learn all you can about the prospective employer and their company. Everyone tends to talk about how terrific they are and not enough on how their experience will allow them to successfully offer solutions to their prospective employers.

Be organized, have an easy to handle portfolio and make sure you bring an extra copy of a resume with reference contact information included to the interview. Explain in a concise way how your life experience will aide you in accomplishing the tasks this position will require. Lead with your strengths and admit weaknesses in a positive light. For example: “While I do not have experience in this specific field, my organizational skills as the fundraiser for a charity allowed the charity to raise 15% more money on their annual event.” Be sincere and do not lie!

A word about portfolios and resumes:

  • It goes without saying that there are no typos or grammatical errors. (Have someone else proof it.) It is your first opportunity to make an impression.
  • Know who you are sending it to. It is OK to have different styles of resumes for different situations.
  • If you are sending a resume to a company make sure you send it to someone, not to a general address. Make sure your cover letter explains what skills you will bring to the table and how this will benefit the company.
  • Your resume should be current and usually no more than one page. If it is short on full time work experience, what volunteer and life experience has prepared you for the work force”

If you are asking someone to help you in your search, make it easy for them. For instance, I received a very creative resume from a student a few years ago. While it was certainly original, it was very large and would have cost me time and money to find a suitable envelope, and take it to the post office, find out the postage (it was $3.50 per resume), etc. This isn’t what one should expect when asking for help. However, after a face-to-face interview, it would have made a great lasting impression as “leave behind” resume OR as a follow-up resume after meeting a prospective employer to request an interview.

Above all, follow up. If you get an interview, go! Don’t forget to show up, blow it off or arrive late. If you have to cancel the interview because something unavoidable occurs, don’t Email the cancellation or leave a voice mail unless absolutely necessary. Speak with the person who you were going to meet and explain that you will not be able to make the appointment.

Finally at the end of the interview, ask if you can provide the interviewer with any additional information. After you leave the same day, send a handwritten thank you note reiterating how much you appreciated the time they took. For an added impression, include a thought that was expressed by the interviewer in the note and, if applicable, a solution.