People sitting in chairs waiting to interview

Lessons Learned: Wise Advice for Job Seekers

The job application process is cumbersome for both jobs seekers and employers (I’ve been frustrated on both sides), and it’s worth reviewing at any age.

When I first graduated from college, I had the impression that I could easily get out of my waitress job and into a well-defined career path. My father, at age 60, lost his job of over 20 years and suddenly found himself in the job market as well. We were both naive about the amount of time and hard work needed to land a great job. Now, I hear it all the time: “finding a job is a full-time job.”

Throughout my career, I’ve gained experience on both sides – recruiting and job searching – and I have some advice for job seekers that I’ve learned along the way.


Advice for Job Seekers: The Application

The application is the way to the interview. You should ensure you meet the qualifications but also throw in something that makes you stand out from other candidates. Here are some other important tips:

  • Have a cover letter for every application (even if it’s optional): In my recruiting experience, I always looked for applications with cover letters. The cover letter gave me a quick glance at qualifications and interests. Applications that didn’t have a cover letter showed a lack of motivation.
  • Fill out every part of the application: Sometimes this can take over an hour to do for one position, but anything that you include to stand out from other candidates will help. Skipping over a section may seem lazy to some recruiters.
  • Check your spelling: Resumes with spelling errors show a lack of effort and poor attention to detail. When I came across resumes riddled with typos, I immediately threw them away. Also, stay away from texting language – spell out your words fully and avoid sounding too casual.
  • Include quantifiable achievements: Stand out from other candidates by showing how your efforts directly impacted the bottom line. For example, instead of saying “Provided quality customer service,” you could be more specific with “Decreased average wait time from 10 minutes to 5 minutes and increased customer satisfaction scores by 15%.”


Advice for Job Seekers: The Interview

The interview is a way for the employer to learn more about your qualifications, get a feel for your personality, and ensure you would work well with their team. While you won’t know exactly what the employer is looking for, there are plenty of things you can do to impress your interviewer and stand out from other candidates:​

  • Do your homework: Find out more about the company, the position, and the interviewer. This will confirm that you’re interested in the company/role and empower you to show off your knowledge of the company during the interview.
  • Differentiate yourself: This is one of the most important pieces of advice for job seekers and one that’s often overlooked. The employer knows you’re qualified based on your resume. They want to know, “Why should I hire you over other qualified candidates?” Be ready to give them a convincing answer.
  • Prepare: Practice answering common interview questions. They will be asked.
  • Bring visuals: Bring copies of your resume and examples of your work, like a writing sample or a certification, if the job calls for it. Offer these items to the interviewer to review or keep (they have the option to decline).
  • Follow up: Sending a “Thank You” note or email to your interviewer adds a personal touch and reminds them of your conversation.


Woman explaining something during interview


Advice for Job Seekers: A Final Word

My number one word of advice for job seekers is: don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Ask someone working for a company you’re interested in to connect you with a recruiter. Ask a family member who has HR experience for tips on your cover letter and resume. Or, ask a leader at your organization for career coaching.

At my previous company, I was interested in expanding my skills and growing my career, so I started applying for other positions within the organization. After a couple of unsuccessful applications, I was desperate for help and reached out to the CEO for guidance. I never thought he’d listen to a lower-level employee, but he did his homework and found out why I never got certain interviews or jobs. He then met with me and set me up with the HR director who gave me tips on how to “sell” myself and stand out from other candidates.

Now that I’ve had my fair share of successes (and failures) as a job seeker and experience as a recruiter, I can’t express enough how important it is for you to sell yourself during the application and interview process. This is your time to brag about your accomplishments – don’t be afraid to go for it!


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By Heyde Mitchell, iHire | September 24, 2019
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