Create a Killer Résumé
Your résumé is your chance to make a great first impression. That single piece of paper (or, these days, that one e-mail attachment) will determine whether or not you get an interview. Dust off an old copy and add any new experience or skills that you've acquired since you last looked for a job. If you've been out of the workforce, consider adding any volunteer work you've done or classes you've taken that have helped you hone in on an existing skill or learn a new one.
Share a copy of your updated résumé with your friends and family, and get their input on how you can make it sharper and more compelling. Pay special attention to the questions they members ask. If you find you need to explain or amplify a certain item, it may mean it isn't as clearly written as it could be.
You may think that the best interviewees think quickly on their feet and come up with smart, insightful answers (and they do), but for most of us, interviewing is like playing a musical instrument—it takes plenty of practice. Setting up informational interviews with former colleagues, acquaintances and friends of friends in industries you're interested in is a great way to polish your interviewing skills. So is role playing with friends.
Before you head into an interview, tell your family who you'll be interviewing with and what you know about them and the company they works for. Have members take turns asking you questions they think your potential new boss will have on their list. After you answer, ask for feedback on what you could have done better. By the time you get through that exercise, the actual interview will be a piece of cake!
I recently interviewed Susan Strayer, a career coach and author of The Right Job, Right Now, and she suggests job hunters create an inventory of stories that they can rely on during an interview. Think of several successful projects you've completed, times you've taken an important role in your employer's success and praises you've received from bosses or clients, and be ready to briefly retell those experiences at the appropriate moment.
Help Your Child Get a Summer Job
If you have a high school or college-age child who's looking for summer work, he or she will need a sharp résumé and good interviewing skills. To help them find leads for great summer jobs, don't forget your local network of family members, friends and teachers, says Randall Hansen, founder of Quintcareers.com, a website for young job seekers. In addition, have your child check out websites such as CoolWorks.com, SummerJobs.com and ResortJobs.com, all of which list lots of temporary positions at resorts and summer camps throughout the country.