Unemployment is at an all-time high, and businesses are inundated with resumes. What can job seekers do to make themselves stand out as professional and competitive and get a leg up on their competition? It’s the little extras that show attention to detail and a willingness to go the extra mile.
Use a Portfolio to Showcase Skills
Traditionally used by artists and educators, portfolios are gaining acceptance as a way to separate exceptional job seekers from the rest of the pack. A portfolio provides an opportunity to showcase specific aspects of work in a more detailed way. Used during or after the interview, a portfolio leaves the interviewer with an in-depth look at the job seekers accomplishments.
In addition to showcasing skills and abilities, the simple fact that a job seeker has taken the time to create a portfolio can demonstrate attention to detail and commitment to a project as well as general design and organizational skills.
A traditional portfolio is used by artists, architects and graphic designers who use it to carry samples of work to be demonstrated. For more generalized job seekers, a portfolio should be printed and bound, with the intention of leaving it with the interviewer. A copy of the portfolio on CD should also be included for those who choose to read on computer.
An electronic portfolio is an actual website that prospective employers can view online. Having a named website that can be referenced on business cards or cover letters allows the interviewer to see what the job hunter has to offer quickly and easily. Providers such as Godaddy or Wordpress offer cost effective websites that are easy to use. Job seekers can also find multiple websites offering advice on creating an e-portfolio.
Regardless of which type is chosen, a portfolio should include:
- A resume or curriculum vitae
- Detailed work history
- Samples of work
- Letters of reference
- A short personal statement
Business Cards are not Just for Business
Not just for the sales and professional crowd, business cards marketing to a prospective employer can be a powerful networking tool for the job seeker. Rather than frantically searching for a pen and paper to list a name or phone number for an impromptu contact, a business card can provide this information in a more dignified way.
Inexpensive business cards can be found at a variety of printing or business supply stores, or even created at home with a high quality printer. If printing at on a personal computer, however, job seekers should be sure to use high quality printer paper to avoid looking homemade.
The Professional Contact Number
Think carefully before listing a phone number on a resume or business card. Human resources personnel calling for an interview are not going to be entertained when little Johnny answers the phone and can’t find Mommy. If possible, use a cell phone number instead of a home phone, or order a separate number or line for the home that is used strictly for job seeking calls.
Recruiters should hear an answering machine message that is similar to what would be said in an office environment. Instead of “You have reached John, Jane, Jack and Judy, leave a message” or children singing hello, employers should hear a professional message. “This is Jane Smith, sorry I missed your call, please leave your number and I will call you back as soon as possible” is a clear, clean sample that can impress the recruiter from first contact.
Dress for Success
Each time the job seeker steps out his or her front door, there is opportunity for networking. Job seekers need to turn every contact into a potential for passing out a business card, and the day-to-day world may offer those opportunities when least expected. Care should be paid that clothing is neat, clean, and ironed. No missing buttons, unraveling hems or pajama pants.
When dressing for an interview, enlist a friend or family member to review the outfit of choice. While it is not necessary to spend $1000 on a suit, it is recommended to look professional and appropriate for the position. Clean, styled hair, ironed jacket, polished shoes, limited jewelry, all add up to the little things that make a professional look.
Job hunting in this harsh economy can be an unrelenting, sometimes depressing, proposition, but there are ways to stand out and be noticed. Adding those little extras can make all the difference in the world.