Jobs: Showcase What Makes You Unique

A job interview is daunting for any woman. But you greatly increase your chance of success when you know how to spotlight your skills.

“Being able to understand your talents and articulate them so that a potential employer can see why you’re unique is critical for every candidate,” says Jan Leahy, executive director of Career Resource Center (CRC) in Lake Forest. CRC is a nonprofit reemployment organization that’s served 11,000 job seekers in Chicagoland for 20 years. “What the employer cares about most is, ‘What are you going to do for me?’ You have to be able to figure out how to tell them why they should hire you.”

Technology at your fingertips

Women in the job market must have technology firmly in their grasp:  Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and the Internet. And for those looking in marketing and public relations?  Facebook and Twitter. “All candidates need to be computer savvy,” Leahy says, “and much more significantly than in the past.”  Try Illinois workNet to evaluate your skills.

Get LinkedIn

Build your LinkedIn profile and become one of the 85 million members on the website. That’s where you can make professional connections and potential employers can find you. Time magazine called it a “virtual Rolodex” and chose it as one of the “50 Best Websites 2010.”

Back in the saddle

Been out of the office for awhile, perhaps even a few years? Take stock of the volunteering, fundraising, and even construction management projects you’ve successfully tackled.  “Compile a portfolio of things you’ve done while you were out of the work force,” Leahy says. “Write up those accomplishments in a professional fashion so that you can present them to a potential employer.” Check out Damn Good Resume for tips.

Target smaller companies and non-profits

In general, unless you’ve worked at a large corporation recently, you’re more likely to get lucky at a small company or non-profit than a big company. “Large companies like to promote from within and grow their own talent,” Leahy says. “They don’t go outside for talent as often except for entry level positions.” Great resources about companies include ReferenceUSA and Crain’s 2011 Book of Lists.

First impression

You get only about 7 seconds to make your first impression so make sure your look is current. That means your attire, speech, hair style, and eye glasses. And wear a suit. “The casual look that may be acceptable in day-to-day business is still not acceptable for an interview,” Leahy says. Click here to see why impressions matter.