December 3, 2009

If you are fortunate enough to receive a request for a telephone interview, be prepared for the interview. Research the organization, and have some notes that describe your qualifications and how they relate to the job. Have a list of questions available in the event you are given the opportunity to ask questions. A phone interview can be very challenging. You need to be in a quiet place where a barking dog or a crying baby cannot interrupt you. Smile, even though you are on the phone; sound upbeat and motivated. If you have gaps in your resume, be prepared to explain them. Remember, the purpose of the telephone interview is to get you an in person interview.

The personal interview day arrives: You got this far. Don’t blow it because you decided to roll out of bed in your clothes from the night before. I had a candidate who appeared so disheveled it detracted from a pretty good interview. Unfortunately, I couldn’t hire someone who had such a poor image. I’ve had candidates who smelled, had a significant amount of hair protruding from their nostrils and hadn’t brushed their teeth. Pretty disgusting? Look in the mirror before you leave for your interview. You don’t need a designer wardrobe, but make sure your clothes fit properly and are cleaned and pressed. Shoes should be polished. And for the smokers out there, you can’t arrive at an interview smelling like you just bathed in an ashtray. Most people are non-smokers, and you are bound to offend.

Your image is an integral part of landing an interview, and what’s between your ears is the part that helps you land the job.

– Terry Schwartz


November 30, 2009

I’ve reviewed thousands of resumes and have interviewed close to 1,000 candidates during my career in real estate. A resume is an extension of your image. The purpose of a resume is to get you, at a minimum, a telephone interview, and the purpose of a phone interview is to get you a personal interview. The poor quality of resumes I have received boggles my mind. Many resumes can be sent electronically, but if you have to deliver a hard copy, stick to a neutral color such as white or off-white and good quality paper; forgo the colors of the rainbow. Also, forget having an “objective” header at the top of your resume—it doesn’t provide any detail as to your qualifications. It’s more important to have a header describing your overall qualifications. Your resume should be one page in length unless you have many years of experience; only then may you employ two pages. Use bullet points to describe your specific duties and responsibilities during your employment history, and use action words (developed, initiated, trained, etc.) where possible. You’d be surprised how many resumes suffer from misspelled words and poor grammar. With spell check on computers, there is no excuse for any misspelling. Poor grammar is another problem. If grammar is not your strong suit, have someone you trust review your resume or pay for a resume review service. The cover letter is where the biggest challenges are presented. Misspelled names, words and poor grammar are job killers. Describe how the qualifications listed in your resume specifically relate to the position for which you are applying. If you have gaps in your resume, they should be explained in your cover letter. I place poorly drafted resumes and cover letters in my circular filing bin (read: trash).

– Terry Schwartz