How to Get Your Dream Job: Preparation for Resume and Interviews

February 12, 2013

Part of my job these days is to sit on interviews, and consult on making hiring decisions based on what the companies need. The sad thing is even with our economy not being so great, people still decide to come into interviews unprepared. As a result, I will be doing a series of posts on how to get hired by someone like me, because, lets face it, I’m the only reference I have.

Preparation goes a long when it comes to impressing a potential employer. However, we aren’t talking about scripting out every possible way your interview could go and having a note card ready with a response for each. Instead, focus on knowing what skills you have so that you can be confident talking about what you can bring to the table.

Source: via Creative on Pinterest


Parts of a Resume

Crafting a thorough and accurate resume is one of the most important steps you can take to ensure that you land an interview. At the very least, your resume should include the following sections:

  1. Cover letter. Remember, this is not the time to attempt humor – be brief and concise about your achievements and what you can bring to the position. Many employers will scan through a stack of cover letters to determine which resumes they will further consider.
  2. Contact information. This should be placed in the header of your resume; sometimes, it is also included in the footer, as well. Make sure you use accurate contact details, like your name, phone number and email address, so that a potential employer can easily reach you.
  3. Objective. This is where you concisely state what you employment goal is. For example, if you want to go into the construction field, you could write, “Skilled welder and laborer seeking full time employment.”. While some believe that this section is deemed unnecessary, some fields still require it.
  4. Skills. These are typically listed best in a bulleted format. Make sure you tailor your list of skills to the job you are applying for.
  5. School history. Include pertinent high school experience, as well as time spent attending college and, if applicable, trade school.
  6. Work history. When listing out your last three employers, don’t forget to include a summary of your work duties and contact details for your supervisor.
  7. Professional references. Ideally, your references should include professional and school contacts; not family members. However, if you don’t have any one else to list, then a relative that can vouch for your professional capacity is acceptable.

Successful Resume Brainstorming

It’s important to accurately explain why you’re the person for the job. Writing an awesome resume that will land your dream job is not the time to be shy about your achievements. That being said, it’s also important to ensure you aren’t boasting about skills and traits that you do not have. Although they may look good on paper, it will become painfully obvious that you lack them during your first day on the job.

If you’re having difficulty writing objectively about your skills and accomplishments, try using some of the following tips:

  • Ask a friend to list your prior achievements and special skills.
  • Take five minutes to brainstorm. Write down everything that comes to mind, even if it seems like a silly skill or accomplishment.
  • Ask a former teacher or coach for help.

Final Thoughts on Preparing for a Great Resume and Interview

If you are applying to multiple jobs in different fields, then it never hurts to draw up a custom resume for each field. This looks more professional because you can list all of the pertinent skills that are useful for that trade. It’s also important to remember that above all, you should be yourself at your interview – employers aren’t looking to hire robots, and you don’t have to memorize what you’re going to say word-for-word. Instead, let your personality and unique skills do the talking.

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  • Mo' Money Mo' Houses February 12, 2013 at 4:01 pm

    Great post! I’ll definitely be referring to this series of posts when it comes to job hunt again!

    • Marissa February 14, 2013 at 2:03 am

      Happy to hear it! Not that you’re looking is a good thing.

  • AverageJoe February 12, 2013 at 7:46 pm

    It was so, so, so frustrating to see the horrible interviewees whenever I’d look for experienced staff people. Great tips to hopefully give lots of people a leg up.

    • Marissa February 14, 2013 at 2:21 am

      I think experienced staff takes the interview process for granted

  • KK @ Student Debt Survivor February 12, 2013 at 9:40 pm

    Like you said, having custom resumes for each “field” you’re applying to is really important. I don’t know how many times I’ve received a cover letter or resume that indicated the applicant was interested in advancing in a career that wasn’t my field. I’m hiring a case manager, not a firefighter. If you want to be firefighter, don’t send me that version of your cover letter 😉

    • Marissa February 14, 2013 at 2:22 am

      On the other hand, cl are a pain to make.

  • Michelle February 13, 2013 at 12:02 am

    It is amazing to me the laissez-faire approach a lot of people take when applying for jobs. I think some people over think the process, or don’t give it enough thought. I hope a lot of people read these posts! I also hire people, but they tend to be in their early twenties so the issues with that pool of applicants is a little bit different than older (25 years+) workers.

    • Marissa February 14, 2013 at 2:22 am

      That demo has its own share of issues.

  • Fred@Foxy Finance February 13, 2013 at 7:50 am

    Failing to prepare is preparing to fail! Solid points of advice I wish I had when I was going to my first interviews all those years ago. It’s mad stuff like this isn’t taught in schools!

    • Marissa February 14, 2013 at 2:23 am

      They don’t teach us basic life skills, do they?

  • MissAmanda February 13, 2013 at 10:11 am

    I have my first interview in nearly 4 years today. Although I am prepared, I’m hoping that other candidates are not to give me that extra edge – not because I’m mean, but because I’m not as confident as I’d like to be going into this thing.

    • Marissa February 14, 2013 at 2:23 am

      Good luck! I hope it went well!

      • MissAmanda February 14, 2013 at 2:57 pm

        For the first time, I have no idea if that interview went well or not. Guess we’ll wait and see if I get a call. If not, I at least know where I stumbled to improve for the next one.

  • Canadian Budget Binder February 13, 2013 at 3:30 pm

    Not knowing what is on one’s resume is not a good start to a career interview coupled with failing to plan almost is a sure fire way NOT to get the job. I’ve always encouraged a well written, clean resume void of useless information, knowing your experiences and skills and about the company applying for. Show enthusiasm, ask questions. Every interviewer is looking for something different, so be that different.
    Good Post..

    • Marissa February 14, 2013 at 2:05 am


  • Eddie February 14, 2013 at 8:11 am

    Great post Marissa.
    As someone who’s potentially looking to make a move, I’ll be referring to this again in the near future. But like you said, CL’s are a pain in the ass to make for every job – and it doesn’t help the fact that I hate creating them 🙂

  • Shovellicious February 15, 2013 at 9:36 am

    I try to be prepered the best way I can. I have one version of my CV but I have many covering letters devided into folders according to their industry. In “industry folder” I have folders with particular companies because I visit their sites on a regular basis and I want to show in my cover letter why I can fulfill their mission and be part of their team. Of course, homework has to be done so I spent a lot of time reading about their history, vision, etc. It’s really helpful during interview. Maybe we don’t talk about their exciting achievements from previous century but “general know-how” is always a good thing. Most big companies have their social profiles, blogs, sometimes employees write their stories there so I like to be up-dated with things like that too. I’m much more relaxed during the interview. It doesn’t mean I can get this job thanks to that but I have piece of mind that I did absolutely everything I could to be prepared 🙂

  • Budget & the Beach February 15, 2013 at 8:16 pm

    Thanks for the great tips! I agree preparation will at the very least give you confidence…and confidence is so key when landing a job!

  • Chris @ February 16, 2013 at 1:05 pm

    With unemployment dropping this is a great article to have. I know a number of people who are part of the long term unemployed so brushing up on key points about interviews and resumes is extremely helpful.

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  • Jordann @ My Alternate Life February 21, 2013 at 8:30 am

    My school offered custom resume and cover letter critiquing and I’m so glad that I learned how to do things properly from them. I’m constantly surprised at my current job, how many people don’t know how to put together a basic cover letter and resume. It’s an important life skill!

  • Sarah Park February 24, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    I have to admit I am one those guilty of being unprepared on interviews when I was younger and was searching for a job. I’ve learned my lesson on it and promised to myself that the next time I get interviewed, I won’t ever show up unprepared.

  • Alex February 24, 2013 at 9:42 pm

    Really great advice for how to get the job you want! Now I just need to really get down and figure more about what that dream job will look like for me!

  • Christina February 26, 2013 at 3:25 am

    Curriculum vitae play a big part of getting a job. It’s serves as a first impression of what kind of a person you are based on your skills and experiences. It should be concise, sincere and impressive but you don’t have to make stories just to make an impression. Honesty is still the best combined with confidence and determination will work out fine to get the job you are dreaming of.

  • CareerGoods March 1, 2013 at 12:38 am

    Great Post! Preparing for an interview is one of the most important things and sadly, I see too many people convinced that they can just wing it.

    Great resume tips. It’s one of the most important, but least understood documents of your career. I think a ‘profile’ section is more useful instead of an objective, which are a bit outdated. Every inch of your resume counts and a profile can market your strengths far better than an objective.

    I’m also not sure if you meant including references as part of a resume or having references on hand. It’s never a good idea to include references as part of a resume, a mistake I see all the time. If a potential employer requests references, that’s the point you should present them.

    Looking forward to your series!

  • Listen Money Matters March 2, 2013 at 2:26 pm

    Definitely an insightful post Marissa! I especially like the part about asking your friend. Sometimes it’s easy to get into a rut of being “too humble” or “too egotistical” or even overlooking your basic core skills. A good friend or family member can really help you plug your resume holes and more importantly give you confidence. We are all our own worst enemies and there is nothing better than hearing from someone you care about, how good you are at something!

  • Carrie Smith March 5, 2013 at 2:16 pm

    I definitely agree with your final point there. If you’re trying to get hired with a company that has a lot of personality, it’s a good idea to let your personality and quirks shine through. Great tips!