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Landing Your Dream Job

by Makie Knight

Interviewing can be a long and daunting process. After going through countless interviews, I have become a bit of a job hunting guru.  A little over a year ago I started applying to finance jobs in New York City and quickly found out that it is an overwhelming process and the competition is tough, but not impossible. The key to landing the perfect job is having a successful interview. Here are some helpful tips I picked up along the way to help you land your dream job.

It all starts with…

The Resume:

  1. A well-established resume is arguably the most important thing in landing an interview.
  2. Make sure you have everything spelled correctly, the punctuation is perfect and you use each verb’s proper tense. Interviewers will throw out poorly written resumes. If you can’t put in the time and detail into your resume, this will show that you won’t put in the time and detail into your work on the job.
  3. You may have to craft your resume differently for each specific job opportunity you are applying for. I suggest having a default resume that you use for most applications and then editing specific descriptions to market yourself to varying roles.
  4. Also, have someone look over your resume.  Actually, have multiple people look over your resume. People notice different things and will share different perspectives on what will add value to your resume. It is most beneficial to have someone with experience within your industry look at your resume.
  5. Ultimately your resume is the first impression a future employer gets of you; don’t make it sloppy. Be sure to make the format and layout unique so you stand out among other candidates.

Before the interview:

  1. Before you go into any interview PREPARE, PREPARE, PREPARE.  Preparing not only means thinking of sample interview questions, but also looking up information about the company and about the people you will be interviewing with. You may find an interviewer who was in the same sorority or fraternity you were in in college.  This is a great way to start a personal connection between the interviewer and yourself.
  2. There are many generic interview questions you can find online, but also go to glassdoor.com to see what kinds of questions are typically asked when interviewing for the position you are.  You can filter your search by the company and the actual job title. This is extremely helpful.
  3. Some interviewers will ask off the wall questions, for which you cannot prepare. For example, I was once asked, “Why are pot holes round?” The interviewer didn’t care why pot holes were round; instead he was testing my creativity and my intelligence.  I have also heard friends of mine say they have been asked, “How many haircuts are given every year?” The interviewer is looking to see how you arrive at the answer as opposed to the answer itself.  If you are asked a question like this make sure to come up with an answer that shows thought and detail.

The Interview:

  1. Get to your interview 10 to 15 minutes before it starts. I assure you EVERY interviewer notices what time you arrive.
  2. Wear something appropriate. Every industry is different, but most will require you to wear an outfit that is business professional. As a female it is extremely important that you don’t teeter on the line of a skirt or dress that is too short. Bottom line: if you are questioning it then it’s too short. Be sure to wear a jacket. Males should also dress accordingly. Not all industries require a coat and tie, but it is always best to dress at a level above or at what individuals in the company will be wearing.
  3. For girls, simple jewelry is also important. Nothing is more distracting than a large necklace or earrings. You want the interviewer to concentrate on the words you are saying as opposed to the latest necklace you purchased.
  4. The handshake. People remember a good handshake. So, make sure that you look the individual in the eye and have a strong and steady handshake.
  5. During the interview, remember to sit up straight. Look the interviewer in the eyes when you are speaking to him or her and don’t fidget with your pen or other materials you may have brought.
  6. Come prepared with a list of questions you want to ask the interviewer. This will show the company that you put time and effort into the process and you care about getting the job.
  7. Be confident and poised without being cocky. I actually got turned down from a job because someone said I seemed too confident about what I was doing. They said I came off as stuck up. So, subtle confidence goes a long way.
  8. As you are leaving the interview, ask the interviewer when you should expect to hear about follow up. This will help you have a better understanding of the timeline you are working with. If you do not hear from the company within the allotted time, feel free to call and ask where they are in the decision making process. I have done this many times and have been told that they like the initiative, and it showed my continued curiosity in the opportunity. With that being said, do not continue to call every day until you hear an answer. No matter how good your interview was, this is a fast way to get turned down for a position.

Follow- up Post Interview:

  1. There is some discrepancy about whether or not you should write a thank you note. Personally, I have always written one. Some people say they do not do anything to help your chances, but I think it’s another way to get your name in front of a potential employer.  On that note, ask for a business card from all of your interviewers. It is easy to forget an individual’s name or title.
  2. In the thank you note, I recommend not only saying thank you to the interviewer for their time, but also pointing out briefly again what you could add to the team and something you learned during the interview.
  3. Thank you notes should be sent out no later than the following business day.

Network, Network, Network:

  1. Even when the interview is over, you get the job and you’ve signed the paperwork, don’t stop networking! Networking can help you meet people who may someday be able to help you advance within your career.

Before the interview process even begins, looking for jobs can be extremely stressful. Outside of networking with family members and friends, often people apply to large companies they are familiar with. Usually this leads to long online applications, which rarely are responded to. I suggest finding other ways to find open positions. If you read articles about your industry, you may learn about other companies you haven’t heard of or may have overlooked. When industry professionals are quoted in articles, look these companies up and see if there are any open positions. Additionally, when you are looking at a company, be sure and read the biographies of current employees. Often times, they will list where employers previously worked. Look at this as another opportunity to apply to more places.

My last piece of advice is to find a mentor. Find someone you admire within your field. Watch how they conduct business and ask them for advice on how you can achieve your goals. I was very lucky to have so many people that loved what they did at the University of Missouri within the Financial Planning Program and it really drove my passion for financial services.  It is difficult to find a job that you enjoy doing every day, but it all begins with the interview.  I hope that these tips can help you land the job you are searching for.

Makie Knight is a 24 year old graduate from the University of Missouri, Columbia with a Masters in Financial Planning. While attending school, she was a Financial Counselor for the Office for Financial Success. Currently she works in New York City for one of the largest Wealth Management companies in the world.