Some candidates treat their resumes as separate from their interviews. While they are different categories, there is a reason that both are often part of the hiring process: interviewers are looking for a pattern of behavior that indicates how you will perform. To support your narrative (interview), they expect you to draw from a record of your past experiences (your resume).
The resume and the interview are both opportunities to show the potential employer why it is you want to work there—and your response will hopefully convey that you are not only qualified, but that you also understand their needs at a macro level and can deliver more value than the other candidates.
These two pieces (your resume and interview) should work together as partners to help you land your job.
Resumes are subject to snap-judgment, and must visually appeal to the reader.
Make sure that your formatting is consistent. A reader’s eyes naturally gaze at the center of a page and the headlines need to stand out and be organized in a way that does not just grab the reader’s attention, but also guides them through your experiences.
Strategic, Professional Summary
An effective resume serves as a professional summary (you, as a professional, in one page). A resume that is rich in keywords such (leadership, communications, management) should be properly backed up in a way that is not cumbersome. The resume should naturally include factual support for your accomplishments.
With competition on the rise, you need to stand out. Inevitably, you won’t be able to list every achievement and accomplishment. In this situation, leave enough on the resume so that you can expand on them later during the interview. This is precisely why it is important for a resume to be a strategic marketing document that sells your value.
To take this an additional step further, find a way to include key projects where you received positive feedback from your supervising partners or clients (an extra bonus when your reference speaks highly of this random project on your resume).
Include the core skills and competencies in your resume, and tailor them to your target practice area. Be careful not to forcefully “stuff” the resume with buzzwords, and make sure you are being honest about your skills. If you need an idea of what might catch your recruiter’s eye, consider researching the firm’s website and see how they brag about their attorneys. What words are they using?
Take an extra step further by making sure that your words aren’t just “telling” them how great you are, but also showing them as well.
You can check out more tips about resumes on our previous entry, here.
Appeal is [still] important
You looked great on paper—so don’t blow it! Make sure you match the great impression on your resume. After doing your homework to make sure you present yourself as a candidate who will thrive in your potential employer’s corporate culture, make sure you do the little things: arrive on time (frankly, arrive a little bit earlier); be friendly to everyone you meet; dress for the job you want (and research the dress code); make sure your body language is positive and confident; send a thank you note! [thank you note]
Bring your resume to life without regurgitating it
Your interviewer has the resume right before them, so don’t use this time to walk through the bullet point. Instead, bring your resume to life by turning your experiences into a compelling story that reflects the value you added.
This takes some practice. But think of a great story: we don’t just want to hear how we went from point A to point B—we want all the juicy details, the drama, the triumph—this is where you show that completing that project on time was done while you were juggling ten other balls in the air. This is where you share that your GPA was not only compelling, but that it was also earned in one of the most competitive courses offered by a particularly tough grader.
As in, be present in the moment. An interview is not a one-way conversation—it is an exchange. Ask thoughtful questions that show you’re prepared and to help you steer the conversation. Listen attentively to responses (and questions!)—and be professional and sincere with your responses. Don’t just give “yes” or “no” types of responses, and keep in mind that they have your application materials, so be present and take advantage of the fact that you are right there, before them to show that you are a great fit for their team. [rapport, good questions to ask]
With a properly composed resume, your interview should be about who you are, and your story. Your interview should bring your resume to life, just as your resume should attract its reader to want to know your story.