Congratulations, you’ve written a powerful resume, and you’ve been selected to audition for your dream job. What are the next steps to turn the dream into a reality? Here are a few pointers about job interviews and transition issues that will help you be a contender in today’s talent-filled pool of candidates.
Today we are fortunate to have easy, online access to data about most companies, positions, industries and even interviewers. Take time to be well-versed prior to your interview. One place to start is the U.S. Department of Labor Career Guide to Industries.
Anticipate the questions that you will be asked and practice your answers. Enlist a friend by inviting them over for pizza and to conduct a mock interview. Also be sure to rehearse what you will ask the interviewer. Avoid questions whose answers are readily available on the internet or those of the “What’s in it for me?” variety: How much vacation do I get? When can I retire? Instead, ask questions that display your knowledge of current trends in the field and enthusiasm for the job.
Your appearance begins telling the interviewer who you are before you’ve uttered your first word. Be sure to look the part that you hope to play. Opt for clothes that are classic instead of trendy; If your favorite pop star was a standout at the last awards show in the outfit you’ve chosen, you should probably find something else. Avoid adornments and accessories that are too attention-grabbing. The focus should be on you, not your purse, hairstyle, cosmetics, jewelry or fingernails.
Showtime begins the minute you enter the building. Be punctual, and be polite to everyone. Unless your interviewer has indicated that there will be a musical interlude, make sure all noise-making devices are shut off. When you meet your interviewer: stand, smile, make eye contact and shake hands. Your body language should show confidence and candidness. If you are not feeling confident in your ability to fill the position, you will communicate this in your body language. When the interview is over, thank the interviewer for their time and send a handwritten thank-you note.
Congratulations, the interview went well and you’re planning to change employers. This is an ideal time to review retirement savings, such as 401(k) plans, that you have through your employer. I checked with my colleague Bill O’Leary, a Certified Financial Planner™, for his recommendations.
He noted that there are a few options for people when they transition jobs. You could retain the 401(k) from your former employer if it was a good plan with preferred investment options and low expenses. You could also roll it into the 401(k) plan at your new employer, if the new plan allows for that. A third option would be to roll the old 401(k) into an IRA.
Also, Bill said that when moving to a new employer, you should enroll in their 401(k) plan as soon as possible and contribute the maximum amount that you can realistically defer. Ideally, this should be at least enough to take advantage of the full employer match. As the old saying goes: “Don’t turn down free money!”
What advice do you have for people who are seeking a new job?