career advice compilation

PREPPING YOUR RESUME / LOOKING FOR A JOB

Do Keyword Research

HR Systems nowadays have baked in algorithms to help HR professionals filter more qualified applicants better. These keywords are typically the skills/traits required in order for one to be successful at the given position. You can use this to your advantage in 2 ways:

  1. Use these keywords to target what traits/skills you need to learn in order to break into this new role. Understanding what they need and learning it so you will be able to deliver will be both advantageous for you and your prospective employer — this is especially useful if you’re jumping into a new industry or a new role (or a step-up promotion)

  2. Use these keywords to beef up your resume. By attaching these keywords to your resume, you’ll have a better chance of landing your resume into the filtered list. Linkedin and other recruitment websites are great for this – simply look at what consistently is being mentioned/sought after and include it to your resume (make sure you can walk the talk tho!)

Protip: If you have space in your resume, you can allocate a section called “Skills” and you can just dump all of it there.

Use buzzwords – yes, it works.

Do not make your resume bland, it’s an instant turn off seeing repetitive words that are boring. Remember, your resume is a marketing content that directly reflects your personal brand. If its boring, I can tell you’re boring too. Reword your content – use some hype if needed.

Turn that “Delivered a project that made quotes” to “Spearheaded a process re-engineering project that enabled a more optimized quote-to-cash flow that increased efficiency by X% and provided interdepartmental transparency”. Same message, but sounds alot cooler.

Avoid noise

Schools will always say just have a 1 pager resume. As a hiring manager, I would say it’s more of a guideline than a hard rule. The reason why it's encouraged, I find, is because applicants tend to over-word their resume. Having a two pager resume is fine as long as your content is good, engaging and interesting. If your resume is long and wordy and bland (or you cannot simply vocalize it well through words), trim it and explain it further during the interview.

Never have paragraphs in your resume. Less is more so summarize your summaries.

Do not put anything you cannot talk about in an interview

If you put anything in your interview, your interviewer will safely assume it's fair game for me to ask something about it. Oh, you “spearheaded the delivery of this project”? Make sure you can tell me about how you were able to do it, what challenges you faced and learnings you’re able to get from that experience.

Make use of cover-letters

Yes, people do actually read them. However, cover-letters shouldn’t be a paraphrased/informal version of your resume. It should showcase, in a less formalized manner, why you are the best person for the job which may or may not be reflected on your resume. Your cover-letter should answer the question, “how I am qualified for the job” and/or “why you should consider me“ and your resume should highlight what you can do/were able to do in the past.

PREPPING FOR YOUR INTERVIEW

Change your mindset

One of the most common mindsets that job seekers have is they are there to answer questions that their interviewer prepared for them. NO. You are there to sell yourself – as inhumane as it may sound, you are the product that is providing a service and you want them to buy your services. And as any buyer would do, they will be buying the best service that is within their price. Your objective is not to simply respond to questions that your interviewer asks but to differentiate yourself from the rest of the interviewees – a common theme you’ll see in my tips further below.

Remember that your interviewer wants to hire you

Interviewers don’t like interviewing. Think about it, we have to interview you for 30-60mins, pass you over to another person that will do the same. Spend another 15-30mins to submit our assessment and do debriefs on top of that. Now, multiply that by the number of interviewees we have to go through. It’s a massive time-sink and this doesn’t even include the time needed to sift through resumes.

When you get to an interview, we want to hire you as long as you are the right person. It’s your job to make us see that you are right for the job and that we should pick you over the others we are also interviewing.

Have something to talk about right off the bat.

Interviews start as soon as you arrive at their office. Yes, I can tell you that the firmness of your handshake does give your interviewer a sense of your confidence level. However, more importantly, we also want to see how you are ‘outside of your desk’.

Do your research, have some mutual connections on linkedin? Send the mutual connection a quick message and ask about the person, what are they like? Any interests or hobbies?

Miko Protip: What I personally like to do is go to google and head to the news section:

career advice compilation
career advice compilation

From the above, if I’m interviewing for Amazon, now I have a good amount of very recent, interesting topics that I can talk about that highlights a genuine interest in the company or a trait of yours that you would want to highlight.

Prep your “tell me about yourself” ALOT

This question is one of the most commonly asked interview questions and for good reason – it sets the tone of the interview. One of the best ways I exploit this is this gives me the chance to bring the topic to something that I want to talk about. Have a cool project in mind? Brush it off into your talk track and make a side comment of “btw, this is a really cool project that I’d like to hopefully talk to you more about later cause it’s pretty interesting”. By virtue of doing so, you’ve built hype, you're making the interview less formal (which is typically a good thing – the best interviews are more conversational).

Your ending statement should always be about a topic that you want your interviewer to further grill you on. Keep it interesting and conversational. Try to balance your conversation with the interviewer to a chat that is easy-going but also highlights your most important traits.

Remember: Aim to drive the conversation, this enables you to ensure that you’re able to highlight your key strengths.

Understand your role’s persona

The sad reality is, certain roles work best with certain personalities. To set some examples.. for more transactional work, hiring managers tend to lean more towards personalities that “are just in it for the paycheque” as compared to more strategic roles that would despise those people and would rather go for someone who likes to actually challenge processes. Now that person who likes to challenge processes may not necessarily fit more transactional roles as it may encourage more friction, drama, or lowered morale for the rest of the team.

These preferred personas vary differently based on the role, the seniority, responsibilities, and more. Now if your personality fits the persona, make sure to vocalize it. If not, you can choose to either fake it til you make it or try to hide it.

How to differentiate yourself

Through skills: this speaks for itself. If you have certain skills that are not widely available, highlight them. Common use cases in tech would be old programming languages that are rare to find, COBOL and MUREX, come into mind. The reason why these positions are always hiring is due to the lack of individuals that have this skill set – as with anything in business, the lower the supply of talent, the more marketable you are.. If applicable, use this to your advantage. This one is harder to do earlier on in your career but remember, these don't always have to be hard skills, soft skills are applicable too! (being bi-lingual, for example)

Through personality: for this, I like to make them know that I’m going to be a great asset to the team (note: I genuinely do mean this). As the interviewer, whoever I’ll be hiring will have to spend 8 hours a day, 5 days a week with me – as such, I’d like to have, at bare minimum, someone I can get along with. I don’t care if you’re a rockstar, if you’re a dick that gives non-constructive criticisms, I’d rather not have you. A line that I personally always use to my interviewer is “I’m here to make you and your team successful. I’m aware that my success is going to be based on yours – so, in all honesty, your progression will be important to me as it will influence mine”. Risky, as it’s pretty blunt – so take it as you will because your mileage may vary but my interview style has always been pretty direct. 

Interviewers do not remember your responses, they remember how they felt during your interview

I want you to think about a great movie you’ve recently watched. Do you remember all the parts in the movie? Probably not. You’ll remember good scenes here and there but what really sticks is how you felt as you were leaving the cinema.

The best interviews tend to be conversational.. sometimes even informal. Not because they deviated away from the interview script but because it’s free-flowing, open and natural.

Miko Protip: I usually end my “tell me about yourself” elevator pitch with this to set the tone for openness:

“Just to wrap things up, I would just like to add that I’m very excited to be here and I apologize if I ask some questions that may come off as too blunt. I like to consider interviews, as much as it is an interview for me, an interview for the company too so we can ensure that both parties are happy. I want to ensure that I’m the right fit for the company but I also want to make sure that the company is a place where I can grow my career.”

The interview experience is a great acid-check on how future interactions with this person is going to be. If it feels draggy, shady, or uncomfortable, that’s obviously a bad sign. It is within your best interest to make sure that the person leaves the meeting in a positive feeling (ideally engaged and excited).

Collection of great questions to ask your employer

  • What is a challenge your company overcame in 2021 and a challenge you look forward to in 2022?

  • How is the work life balance? (and depending on answer, do you often work over 50+ hr weeks?)

  • What does your company do to ensure new hires are connected with others? (especially if remote)

  • What are a few reasons you've stayed here so long? (if you can find their linkedin and they've been at the company a while)

  • Has your company chosen any directions to take that you don't agree with, what's an example and how did things change?

  • Are you happy with your yearly compensation bumps and bonuses?

  • In your opinion, what's the most convincing selling point to working here?

  • Mac/PC, Slack/Teams, Jira/Monday are all relevant as long as you have an opinion yourself

  • What does the typical day look like?

  • What characteristics do you think are most beneficial to this role?

  • What did you do before this?

MORE UPCOMING TOPICS

Resumes/Job Search:

  • Finding more targeted jobs outside of linkedin/indeed/etc.

  • Additional kickstarters to get into a new industry

  • Removing doubts for people new to the industry

Interviewing:

  • Understanding your levers

  • More ways to make sure you stand out – key phrases

  • End of interview questions and removing hesitations

  • Showing genuine interest for the field (or at least try)

  • Answering the ‘what is your greatest weakness’ question

  • Separating yourself from everyone (for those still in school)

  • How to answer the how do you see yourself in 5 years question

The corporate world:

  • Knowing your rate/salary (and how to maximize it)

  • Additional kickstarters to get into a new industry

  • The big picture: how to ensure your career path

  • How to do well at your job and climb up the corporate ladder

  • Managing 1:1s to ensure progression

  • Getting buy-ins at meetings

  • Staying vs Moving around

  • You and your manager

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