Listen the hell up.

Most of the time, I hate the condescending tone of the career pundits.  It’s always “Sally, you idiot, here is how you should do your resume.”  Or, “Billy Bob, here is how to answer these typical interview questions.”

But I thought you knew better.  Come to find out there are a lot…I mean a LOT…of job seekers who are clueless about the basics, of how a business operates and recruits.  This is Interviewing 101: The Class Everyone Thought You Took, But You Didn’t.  It is a lecture.

Please pardon my bluntness, but some of your friends, NOT YOU, need this direct approach.

1. When you send out a resume, send a cover letter too. Make both perfect.

2. Keep track of what company and to whom you send your resume and cover letter.  You do this so when you are called by the company’s recruiter, you don’t say things like “how did you get my resume,” or “who are you and why are you calling me?”

3. Google each company. Read and remember just a little bit about the company.  This is so when you are called for the initial interview you are NOT completely in the dark about the company.  You want to avoid comments like “mmmm, I have never heard about your company, what do you do?”

4. Before the interview, study more about the company; granted, this is a lot like homework.  Find out as much as you can about the company and industry.  What do they do?  What else can you find out about them?

5. Arrive early for the interview.  If necessary, scout it out beforehand.  Dress appropriately.  The easy rule is to dress one level up from the normal workplace attire for the business.  If you are a guy and you have found it is business casual during the workday, wear a tie.  Simple.

6. Everyone you meet is important.  Quick story: I know a young guy who was being interviewed by a large health care company here in Minneapolis.  The woman who took him back to the interview area was like Hilda the Hun, came across almost mean-spirited.  The young guy treated her nicely and made small talk.  She then went out of her way to make sure he was interviewed first, and even gave him a tip on how to handle the interviewer, her boss.

7. Make eye contact and have a bounce in your step.  I can’t tell you how many people shuffle, eyes-down on the way to and from the interview, and the small talk is a series of near-grunts, “yep, nope, ummm.” Act interested, engaged and a bit vibrant.   Attitude trumps most skills in this first setting.

8. Use your manners. Take notes during the interview.  Ask questions.  Be nice.

9.  After the interview, send a note to the interviewer.  We have interviewed over 200 recent graduates for some sales positions.  Guess how many sent a follow up note? One. 1. No kidding.

10.  After about a week, make contact again, via email and with a call.  If you are smart, you will have sent a note to the person who took you back to the interview, too.  Remember the young guy who met Hilda the Hun.  Well, he even sent her a note.  On his subsequent interview, he met her again.  Here is what he said, “she was so happy to see me, I thought she was going to kiss me in the recetion area.   As we walked past her desk, I noticed that she had a picture of her kids, her dogs and my note was propped up against one of them.”  Is there any wonder he got the offer?

Class dismissed.