This is the job application and interview preparation guide section.

Once you decided your career path, the next big step is applying and preparing for the hiring process.

Jump directly to sections (Click below links) :

The first step is the Job Application and Candidate profile

To appear for the job interview, the first step is cracking the job application process and getting through the applicant tracking system.

In the recent days of cut-throat competition, getting a good job is tough. First, a candidate needs to catch the attention of the hiring manager.

In short:

  • Jobs and positions are limited.
  • The number of applicants is 10-100 times or even higher than the vacancies.
  • Hiring managers filter out resumes on certain criteria.
  • Those unaware of the recruiter’s mindset are already out of the hiring process.

Solution is :

  • Build an outstanding job profile and eye-catching resume (takes hardly 1-day effort).
  • Be creative in expressing details in profile and resume (out of the box thinking).
  • Play with keywords smartly to stay in the game.
  • Be honest and consistent throughout the recruitment process.
  • Give all the details required and expected by the hiring team.

TIPs for getting shortlisted by ATS bot and HR:

TIP 1 – Playing with keywords – 

Similar to that of search engine optimization in online search engines, there is a baseline for searching candidate’s attributes and capabilities by certain keywords. Recruitment websites and hr teams do that on a regular basis. I am mentioning two examples to make this clear to you all :

1) Say, you are a fresher applying for a technical job – Telecom Developer position. You may already be aware of the different technical jargons and key skills in the telecom development world. Some keywords you will surely try are C++, Java, Python, Data structures, Mobile Communication, OSI layers, Unix, SQL, Embedded, etc. 

But, you must understand that you may not be covering all the keywords which can land you to the job or at least get shortlisted. It is because, you have not studied or researched on the usability of your knowledge. You may have good theoretical knowledge and completed some outstanding projects in your field, but you are not showcasing the same in your applicant profile.

The solution is simple, you need to know the skills specific to the applied job and model your application properly.

In the telecom developer example, lets say if you dig a bit deeper, you will come to know the various latest implementations and terminologies in the telecom world like – 3gpp protocol, protocol stack development, Layer 2 and Layer 3, MAC Layer, Diameter and Radius protocol, SIP/SDP, IMS, LTE, VoLTE, python automation testing, Jmeter, enhanced packet core elements (EPC), policy and charging control (PCC), etc.

These are nothing but a sure shot effort to get your resume and profile higher in the equation. Use them as keywords as per your knowledge and understanding of these topics.

Always use the right amount of keyword matching with your overall experience, don’t overdo.

2) Now say, you are applying for a non-technical / semi-technical & core management based job like a Sr Business Development Manager position. In such a case, the area is diverse and you need to focus more on the job requirements and knowledge development even before creating your profile.

If the job description is like “Company XYZ…is looking out for Sales professionals, with a Software sales experience of about … hands-on experience in lead generation and team management …”, it means you will be in I.T. Sales, probable in SaaS domain. Knowing this, you may research the roles and responsibilities required for the job and if it matches your experience, you may apply suitable keywords. 

Some example keywords like – “define and manage the business development process for the software life cycle” , “Execute sales targets of the company” ,  “Team Management skills with the ability to handle large team members”, “Ability to do need gap analysis”, “Excellent communication skills and Good interviewing skills” will surely be helpful. Do research as per your knowledge, skills and job requirements.

A related profile hunt from Naukri for sales profile, check the keywords used by the candidate which showed up in the search :

See, a simple 4 keyword (skill) search brought up around 6000 candidates.

Note the key skills used by the candidate. (credits – Naukri.com)

TIP 2 – Be smart while compiling, stay consistent, do proofreading – 

While creating your profile, you may possibly get carried away by the tons of cluttered information and provide irregular details or miss out on some points. This will create inconsistency in your entire inputs and possibly detach your resume from your actual background, job application and applicant profile created at the company site. It is a negative point from the HR perspective.

Such occurrence is prominent in highly experienced candidates who worked on multiple projects and domains.

It is necessary to keep checking multiple times by re-reading and doing a comparison of all details in every iteration of change. The best way to tackle this is to read the entire job application and resume at a stretch (post-editing) and look out for any missing links or improper projection.

Compare all keywords in resume, CV and job application. Check spellings and word usage. Check the tone of the sentence. Use a proofing tool online for better results.

  • Note: Most recruiters filter out unwanted candidates via automated applicant tracking system which is based on keywords, resume format and consistency check in the job application and your uploaded resume. Use the right keyword as per your experience.

Applicant Tracking System Bot explained by – jobscan.co (Read)

WRITING A COVER LETTER / RESUME AND CV

What is a cover letter and is it required?

“ Cover letter is a friendly introduction of yourself to the recruiter along with your understanding of the job profile, detailed skills mentioned, certifications, academics, achievements, etc concisely ”

Cover letters are rarely asked nowadays, most recruiters focus on the resume part. But, many companies are still giving relevance to it only in the job application part. So, it is best to stay prepared.

Always start and maintain a friendly but informative approach in the cover letter like “I enjoy doing …” , “ I look to grow as a …” , “ Your company will be an ideal place to apply my work & education …”

There is nothing much to discuss on cover letters. Check out online or some of the cover letters templates → Click here.

WRITING CREATIVE RESUMES FOR GOOD IMPRESSION

“ Resumes define your knowledge and professional stand. A good resume displays your creativity, clarity, consistency and written communication on a single page. So, the page should be written well-thought.”

Three must-do for a good resume:

  1. Font: Keep the font readable with good size (10-14 pts), keep well separation of headings and points. Apply a good & simple theme like Arial, Calibri (say no to the funky ones like Algerian, Curlz MT or Broadway). Keep similar size & font across the document (say headings 14 and content 12). Keep alignment to left or justified. It is best to use black as a font color. Remember, the font will define the way your resume will look and feel.
  2. Be concise, keyword specific and less detailed: An ideal resume contains the basic contact details, a short summary, academics, work experience, skills, certifications, achievements & awards. All these details are to be contained in 1 or 2 pages maximum (2 pages are for 2+ years experience and with multiple organizations). 
  3. Think, read and innovate in your resume: Resume is not just a list of points mentioned blandly. You should try to connect the data provided in the resume in a way that engages the reader (here the hiring manager) to read more and consider you.
    • In summary, part, use catchy phrases like “A self-motivated and creative data engineer with … years of demonstrated experience in ….” “ … Highly adaptive & thinking out of the box …”
    • In mentioning skills you can be very creative using visual and scoring so as to let the recruiter know which skills you are better.
    • In work-history be a little constructive and distinct the designation, company, roles, projects handled and training/awards section into points. This will create a better impact on the hiring manager. Mention list of all the work-ex in reverse chronological order.
    • In mentioning academics, you can follow a similar approach and make points and subpoints for your school/college, year completed, course, major & minor subjects, projects undertook, voluntary tasks and overall percentage.
    • In certification just mention all the certification along with the timelines in reverse chronological order. No details required. Expiration date, if any, may be mentioned.
    • Awards and achievements sections can be filled similar to certifications mentioning timestamps and awards received.

Resume template for a fresher or less experienced candidate should look like this (Length 1 page, well detailed and eye-catching) :




Download the C.V. and resume template → Click here.

CV FOR DETAILED PROFILE

Difference between CV and Resume?

  • Length: Resumes are short single-page documents whereas a CV is lengthier and 2+ page.
  • Details: Resumes contain headings, keywords and introduction to the candidate whereas CV dives into the details of all possible attributes, experiences, projects, etc.

Tips for a good CV :

  • Use a detailed summary and a separate section for highlighting yourself. Summary you can use from resume as discussed in resume tip. For highlights, mentions your exposures, technical and soft skills as keywords. The highlights part is optional if you wish to include the same in summary, but a separate highlight section is eye-catching.
  • Detailed skills and competencies: You need to open up on your skills in detail now. Mention tools, languages, skills, areas, domain experience and roles in detail.
  • Certification should be detailed with little explanation wherever required. Eg.you can mention a “RedHat RHCE Certification” in details as “…completed certification which focussed in creating and managing…”, “…knowledge of Linux kernel and filesystem structure…”
  •  Work experience and education: Explain in brief all the roles, projects, skills learned.
  • Project experience/projects undertaken: If you are in a project-based job, it is best to mention all the projects you have handled with all details like roles and responsibilities, industry-based knowledge, description of project goals, steps taken and outcome of the project. Project details in a CV will surely add significant weight in your resume and make you stand out from the crowd.

Using Resume Metrics: In CVs (and resumes), mentioning some achievements with details of the impact of your action is highly appreciated by recruiters. 

Instead of using phrases like “…handled subscriber data migration in mission-critical projects…”, you can mention the impact by saying “…successfully executed a mission-critical project for subscriber data migration, handling over 30 million user-profiles and migrating in less than 3 hours…”. These are known as resume metrics that contain measurable achievements like growth in sales, reduction of the cost incurred, etc.

Download the C.V. and resume template → Click here.

PRE-INTERVIEW ATTITUDE

Now, once your job application gets selected, the recruiter marks you fit for the position and calls you for the actual face to face job interview rounds, it is time to buckle up and get ready for the real deal – the interview.

There is no perfect job interview, you have to adapt and innovate

I am listing out the top tips and tricks that are helpful for the day and moments before the interview starts :

  • Make notes and chits (start asap): Not to cheat but to train your mind. It works for objective rounds in core technical jobs like I.T. Developer, System Administration, Operations and non-technical positions like Business Analyst, Quality Analyst and Business Development positions where you have to face domain-specific quizzes.

    Say for a SQL Developer position, you are asked simple but varieties of question-related to the database like – “What is the difference between truncate and delete?”,”From two tables…how to print the name of candidates whose score is between 70 and 80” or from UNIX  “How to search a string pattern from one file and compare the same in a different file just using a single command line?”. 

    These questions need a clear, composed and confident mind to answer as they are technical, logical and straightforward. So, practice more and start creating notes. Creating notes will improve your clarity. It will give you various alternate ways to solve them.

    • Start practicing for quizzes and your skills.
    • Give importance to mathematical questions.
    • Try techniques to solve without pen and paper.
    • Read the question and answers properly.
    • Many a time answer is in the question itself. 

I am going to post out technical Aptitude and I.T. interview questions and answers in a separate section soon, focussing on shortcuts and tips. Keep visiting.

  • Improve soft skills, practice behavioral question and answering techniques. You must understand that without improving soft-skills, it is highly impossible to convince HR to get the desired role. 

The best way to start is by collecting a list of possible traits that are required for the position. Depending on the job profile, do research and prepare a list of 10-20 behavioral questions and attributes that are required and practice on them.

  • Don’t do speculation or assumption of the interview: Be prepared for any scenario. Interview can be surprising where different panels may have different ways to evaluate your ability and demeanor. Just keep yourself alert and ready for any test.
  • Keep documents like CV, Resume, previous job offer letter/salary slips, print out of candidate profile (if asked), call letter, etc ready. 
  • Be in formal attire (believe me, it creates a very good impression). You can research on formal attire and what to wear in an interview on the net in case you are confused.
  • Group discussions: It is best to prepare for a group discussion with your colleagues or friends for readiness. Many jobs conduct a full-length GD round. Leadership skills are evaluated in this process. Practice well beforehand, read news of all sorts of happenings around the world, get accustomed to how to talk to a crowd and get noticed. Start practicing GD and reading news / informative blogs asap.

INTERVIEW FACING

It is the D-day and you are to attend the face to face rounds. You come with proper preparation, in a formal and neat look, carrying all required documents. Just relax!!

Tips on what to do in your face to face interview with the panel :

  • Take interview as a presentation. Have a formal tone and depending on the role, maintain a level of frankness. The interviewer is looking for a confident and clear-minded employee. Know that. Be presentable and answer questions with clarity.
  • Answer truthfully and do not manipulate. The interviewer will have a set of questions, not a single one. If you manipulate in the first question, the second one will catch you. There is also a high chance of getting blacklisted if you lie.
  • Always be open and provide details closely related to the questions. Use a pen & paper for clarification. Give alternate solutions to solve a problem from your experience and understanding. Use simple sentences and keep grammar intact while speaking :

I can solve the web interface hung state issue by restarting the server”  sounds way better than “I can solve this problem by restarting the web server in order to get the hung state issue fixed”

Don’t complicate sentences while speaking, although you will be using more complex English. Simple is better in an interview.

  • Focus on your speech: clarity, tone, and speed (no accent). It comes by practicing. Use a sound recorder and record as many clips possible and listen to yourself. Try to correct your speed and clarity and maintain a similar tone across words.
  • Think logically and pause for a while before answering. Ask the interviewer for details on the problem statement. Don’t start working like it is an exam. It is two-way communication. Participate in the problem-solving process.

You can refer to this youtube video of a Google interview on how to get details, think with logic and participate in the interview — Link

  • For salary negotiation, keep in mind your experience and knowledge. The salary is mostly decided on the project budget and your interview. So, negotiate smartly. Don’t state a figure. Rather, be flexible and mention a range that will meet your financial goals. Using statements like “ I expect this much salary to meet my financial goal so that I will be able to focus on my work, not worrying about money ”  is always a plus point.
  • Don’t be nervous about communicating during the interview. It projects you as a weak candidate. Relieve your stress before entering the panel. This will be possible only if you practiced soft-skills well in the pre-interview process.

So, thats all about a detailed and well-thought approach in dealing with a job hunt process. Let us conclude here. I will keep on updating and adding new details to the articles. Kindly comment on your views and suggestions.

Visit again for updates on –

  • Bonus TIP: Power of Social networking in career via LinkedIn.
  • Hot skills in the I.T. market.

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