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We are over with the festive and its time to focus on what is important to us this year. Well, if you did not get that job last year do not give up yet, get back to the drawing board and evaluate on where you could have gone wrong and correct as early as now. Here are 5 tips that will help you in getting a job in 2017

1. Have a good CV

A CV is a very important document when it comes to job applications; it’s the document that gets you interviews. It should contain your name and contact details at the top and then list all your work experiences with dates starting with your most recent at the top to the last one position.
It should also include your qualifications and lastly, the CV should have your work achievements and professional affiliation where applicable as this distinguishes you from ordinary job seekers giving you a head start.

2. Apply for the right jobs and at the right time

Just because you did not get a job last year does not mean that you now apply for any job that comes you way. Study the job first, make sure that you match the qualifications the employer is looking for, beyond that make sure that you make the application at the right time which means within the first three days of the advertisement.
Again, it makes no sense in making an application for a perfect job but you do it late when the position is already closed.

3. Reach out to your networks

More than half of the jobs are found through networking and referrals; this means that being in touch with your networks is an important part of finding the right job.

4. You need to prepare for your interview

Well, getting invited for an interview does not mean you got the job, it only means you are a little closer to getting the job and what stand between you and the job is an interview.
It’s very important to prepare for the interview as it increases your chances of getting the job. Carry out a background research on the company, research more on the role, also go a step further and find out what different companies are offering for the position so that you are able to negotiate for the salary.
The importance of interview preparation is that it reduces nervousness during the interview as when you are well prepared you feel more confident.

5. Stop waiting for a dream job

Most graduates wasted the whole of 2016 waiting for the perfect jobs; those big titles in prestigious companies. Truth is, there is nothing that comes easy and you have to start below in order to get to the top of the ladder. So if you get offers for attachment/internships this year, accept the offers as this is where you get experience need to go to the next level.

A CV is supposed to be a true representation of your work experience. It should be able to tell the employer about your professional history and your skills. Simply put, a CV is supposed to be a marketing tool used to sell you to prospective employers

Here are tips on how to write a CV for 2017

There are particular sections that employers expect to see on your CV regardless of industry and below I will tackle each section and what you are expected to include.

1. Contact Details

Every CV should have your contact information; it’s the very first section on a CV. The details should include your name, physical address, email address and phone number. Make sure that the email address is professional, emails such as [email protected] show how immature you are and the employer might not want to look at your CV beyond that point.

2. Professional Profile

This is the second part on the CV; it’s also one of the most important aspects of your CV. It simply highlights your experience, your skills and expertise. The profile should be tailored to match the job you are applying for, highlighting specific qualities that match the role. Aim to keep your profile short and precise and not more than a four sentences.

3. Education

Here, you are supposed to outline your education profile starting with the most recent to the last one. Include the certification, the name of the institutions and the dates you were there. In this section you can use bullet points.

An example:

  • Diploma in Human Resource, IHRM, 2014-2015
  • Degree in Business Administration, Kenya Methodist University, 2010-2013

4. Experience and employment history

This is the most important section on a CV. In this section you outline your previous jobs and work experience. Your experience should be listed from the most recent to the last one. You should state your job titles and the dates you worked, followed by the company you worked for and then outline your duties and responsibilities. Choose duties that are most relevant to the job you are applying for, especially if it’s a long list. Use bullet points to outline your duties and responsibilities.

An example

Human Resource Assistant;
ABC Company, 2012-To Date;
Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Prepare reports and recommend procedures to reduce absenteeism, employee turnover and low morale among the workforce
  • Provide advice and support to supervisors and staff selection committee
  • Actively take part in the staffing function right from recruitment, selection and placement to termination
  • Participate in training and development of all staff, new and current as well as outgoing
  • Advising employees on employment law and the employer’s own employment policies and procedures

5. Key Achievements

If you have done anything you are particularly proud of, like implementing a system in your department you should include it on the CV, also remember to include the changes that have come about due to your achievement. This is very important as it helps you differentiate yourself from other candidates  . This should come just below the work experience.

An example

Human Resource Assistant;
ABC Company, 2012-To Date;
Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Prepare reports and recommend procedures to reduce absenteeism, employee turnover and low morale among the workforce
  • Provide advice and support to supervisors and staff selection committee
  • Actively take part in the staffing function right from recruitment, selection and placement to termination
  • Participate in training and development of all staff, new and current as well as outgoing
  • Advising employees on employment law and the employer’s own employment policies and procedures

Key Achievement(s):

  • Developed a management of attendance policy which has reduced absenteeism levels in the workplace by 2%
  • Facilitated the rebuilding of the organization’s HR function which resulted in significant cost-savings

6. Membership/professional Affiliation

This is where you give details of professional bodies that you are affiliated with if any. An example you are a registered member for IHRM, you should include it here.

7. Hobbies and interests

When you tell your employers what you do on your own time, it says a lot about your natural motivations. These are activities that nobody tells you to do but there should be some connections to the type of jobs you do. Note that, hobbies that are not descriptive of your abilities e.g. eating out or going out to watch movies are unlikely to add value to your CV.

8. Lastly on how to write a CV, the references

Your referees should include your previous employers either in managerial or supervisory level. The section should include the person’s name, their job title, the company they work for, their contact number and email address.

By Lilian Wamaitha

Change is inevitable. And the same case applies when it comes to writing compelling curriculum vitae. Have you had the feeling that you will get that shot listing only to be rejected by hiring managers? Well, as the corporate world changes so do the ways of writing a CV. You can’t keep using the same old CV year in year out. There is a need to change and keep up with the curriculum vitae trends as they come.

That said, in order to avoid your CV ending up in a trash bin somewhere, there are certain trends as a job seeker you must be aware of and implement to increase your chances of getting jobs.

Curriculum Vitae Trends Job Seeker Must Pay Attention To

1. Old is no longer gold

Any professional CV writer will tell you that, the ages of putting together your names, age, telephone number email address followed by a chronological order of education, work experience, conferences and seminars attended followed by a list of referee is long gone. That was a CV for another age, not for today’s job market.

A resume is supposed to sell you to a potential employer. The chances of getting shortlisted with such a CV are very slim in today’s job maker where everybody is competing for the same limited vacancies.

2. Renewing the identity

CV writing has changed over the past years. It is no longer just a document you present to a recruiter. Instead it is the number one marketing tool. The Kenyan job market today requires one to stand out from the completion. And this said, the focus now is on your work history mostly so that a hiring manger can be able to determine if you are the best fit for a certain position.

3. What comes first matters a lot

While the traditional name and address still remains at the top of a CV, what follows next is what matters. It is no longer a question of education followed by work experience. What follows instead is a profile summary of who you are. It’s like summarizing your entire CV in one paragraph.

With a profile summary, you explain your experience and what makes you the best candidate for the position. With this the recruiter is already sold and will want to go through your entire CV.

An example of a profile summary is

“I am a Biomechanical and Processing Engineering graduate with attachment experience under machines maintenance. I am well versed in the principles and practices involved in engineering tasks including; project management, maintenance and servicing, food processing, hydraulic and pneumatic systems and computer aided drawing and design. With my training in Biomechanical and processing engineering and my attachment experience, I am looking for entry level positions as a Maintenance Supervisor/Engineer or a Processing Engineer, a post that will expose me to the industry where I can gain more skills and experience needed.”

4. Elaborating your work experience

The current curriculum vitae trends demand that a job seeker elaborates on their work experience. Instead of just writing worked as a clerk between this period and that, go ahead to explain the duties and roles you were tasked with as a clerk. This is what the employer is looking for. With a detailed work experience he/she will be able to determine whether you fit the role as described in the job description.

Curriculum vitae trends If your are a 21st century job seeker, you must keep up with the said curriculum vitae trends to increase your chances of getting a job. This is what will set you up from other job seekers.

My first resume was just a half-page long and the only feedback I received was that I should’ve included more work experience. When I got home, I immediately did a Google search because I (admittedly) didn’t know what I was doing.

I went the other way for my next attempt and wrote my life story. It didn’t get me a single reply. I hated that feeling and decided to experiment until I found a resume that would give me results.

So, I started designing different templates. I tried various fonts, added images, and played with all sorts of colors and effects, until I created something I felt really proud of. As an arts major with design experience, I wanted to show off my particular skill set.

I sent out the revamped version, and the very same day I got a call for an interview. Fast-forward one month and I was working at a Ritz-Carlton resort. The first thing my manager said was “We don’t often get resumes like this in the hospitality industry, so I was eager to meet you.”

I’ve used this template with every application since. While I’m still relatively early in my career and I’ve shifted from hospitality to content editing, my resume has helped me get my foot in the door each time. I know that because I always get positive comments about it during interviews.

While I can’t guarantee that you’ll have the same results as me—this formatting might not be appropriate for every industry and role—I can share what I learned when I transformed mine from monotonous to eye-catching.

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By Selipha Kihagi

When preparing for an upcoming interview for a job, it is only natural that you will go to browse various job interview tips. You will also go the extent of asking the people around you for tips that would help you ace the interview. From sending emails, using social media you will ask for job interview tips in your area of study and yes you will find a pool of ideas and advice.

But is the advice you are getting enough to take you through your first interview or a pack of hostile interviewers? Below are some tips you will find useful in any job interview, regardless the position or company.

Job Interview Tips You Need To Know

1. The first 5 minutes and the last 5 are the most crucial
You may have already been told about how important it is that you impress recruiters or employers during a job interview. Seeking to impress is a broad factor that could become your worst nightmare if stressed too much. Recruiters and employers already know if they are going to hire you or keep you as a maybe in only the first 5 minutes.

What you say, how you behave, your appearance and general attitude will be judged here. The same applies for the last 5 minutes. You need to leave a lasting impression so the recruiter does not forget you once the next candidate comes in. Focus on impressing at these two times, then let your preparation work for you in between.

2. Employers hate direct one sentence answers
This does not mean you have the green light to talk and blab your way through the interview; there is also too much talking. The trick here is to give answers as if you are telling your life story. Employers and recruiters can already see how experienced you are, they want to hear about those real accomplishments you made in your last job or projects you participated in while in school.

Make sure the interviewer is moved by what you say. It’s the easiest way to be remembered by employers. This way even if you don’t get hired, they will reach out to you when they hear of another job.

3. If you believe you are the best, you will ace that interview
This goes beyond having confidence. It is knowing that the company or employer will benefit a lot from hiring you that will count. Think about it, it is always easier to convince someone to try out a certain joint or pizza place, why? Because you believe they are the best in the business.

The same notion applies when going for job interviews, think of yourself as a pizza joint (or whatever your best food is) that you truly believe in then sell yourself to the recruiter. If you do this, employers will have no choice but to consider you.

4. Your qualifications will not matter when you are not a people person
Every single job demands that you have interpersonal skills or good communication skills. So, from how you handle the lady or gentleman sitting at the front desk, or the guards at the gate or building you are going to interview, you must be in your best behavior.

Do not become the person who is rude to someone in the lift only to find that they are the ones interviewing you.

You have just gone through the stress of a first interview and luckily you have aced it. The hiring manger now wants to bring you in for a second one. Congratulations on that step!

“Just because you got through to the second interview doesn’t really guarantee you the job” says Muthoni Ndegwa, a Client Services Manager at Corporate Staffing Services Limited, a leading recruitment firm that offers career advisory services that includes interview coaching and CV writing. A second interview is no different from the first. You need to handle it, just as you did the first one to guarantee you placement in the company.

So What are the Mistakes People Make in Second Interviews?

1. Refusing to prepare

Naturally, most people assume that you don’t need to research the company since you have already made it to this stage. Probably many have not. After all, what else is left to do? All you have to do is continue being a delight, which isn’t a bad thing. However, don’t make the mistake of just going for an interview without having prepared adequately. Most of the time, you find that in a second interview, you are likely to meet new interviewers, hence the more better reason you should prepare well.

Instead, prior to the interview conduct a background check on the company on their website and social media pages. You never know what you may have missed that may just come up during the interview. The new knowledge will make the interview process flow smoothly as it makes conversing easier.

2. You Think it’s Time to Make Bold Requests

Just because they gave you a chance to come for a second interview doesn’t mean, you get too comfortable and start making unrealistic demands. These include crazy ideas like wanting to have a one on one meeting with a company executive or being given a sneak peak view into company information that is only reserved for employees.

Some even go to the extent of arriving three hours before the interview, since they want to ‘hang around’ with the employees to learn the company culture. Keep calm! You have not been hired. Just because they called you in for the second interview doesn’t mean, they think you are the best candidate. Be humble. However, don’t strain much. If you need anything, like to use the restroom just ask. Just avoid asking for things you know very well you don’t need.

3. Getting Too Casual in Your Conversations

At this point of the interview process, it’s natural to feel like you know some of the interviewers you interacted with the first time on a personal level. It’s therefore easy to let down your guard and start sharing information that is too personal. The truth is that no matter how relaxed you feel; keep the conversation as professional as possible.

What you need to keep in mind is that, this is still an interview like any other. It’s not a casual meeting you would have with friends to discuss what’s trending on social media. However if you have something personal that you think is relevant to the interview, there is no harm in sharing.

Making it to the second interview stage, should be a great accomplishment that you should be proud of. However, while at it, don’t walk into the room like the jobs is already yours. This is still an interview, to determine if you are the best fit but that doesn’t mean being too uptight. Instead carry yourself in a professional way that might just be the reason you are given that offer letter at the end.

“So, tell me about yourself.”

What seems like such a simple question can really make you sweat, especially in an interview. What, exactly, should you share—not just to build rapport, but to show that you’re the perfect fit for the job?

Fear not, job seekers: There’s a super-simple formula that will help you answer this question with ease.

How to Answer “Tell Me About Yourself”

So, the first question you’re probably going to get in an interview is, “Tell me about yourself.” Now, this is not an invitation to recite your entire life story or even to go bullet by bullet through your resume. Instead, it’s probably your first and best chance to pitch the hiring manager on why you’re the right one for the job.

A formula I really like to use is called the Present-Past-Future formula. So, first you start with the present—where you are right now. Then, segue into the past—a little bit about the experiences you’ve had and the skills you gained at the previous position. Finally, finish with the future—why you are really excited for this particular opportunity.

Let me give you an example:

If someone asked, “tell me about yourself,” you could say:

“Well, I’m currently an account executive at Smith, where I handle our top performing client. Before that, I worked at an agency where I was on three different major national healthcare brands. And while I really enjoyed the work that I did, I’d love the chance to dig in much deeper with one specific healthcare company, which is why I’m so excited about this opportunity with Metro Health Center.”

Remember throughout your answer to focus on the experiences and skills that are going to be most relevant for the hiring manager when they’re thinking about this particular position and this company. And ultimately, don’t be afraid to relax a little bit, tell stories and anecdotes—the hiring manager already has your resume, so they also want to know a little more about you.

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When I first moved to New York, I was a cover letter machine. I wrote to every sir or madam with a job opening. I expressed my interest in positions for which I had none. I waxed rhapsodic about companies I’d never heard of. My response rate? A whopping zero percent.

Around the 10th unanswered application, the negative chatter started to kick in—and it sounded suspiciously like Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada.

Go home, Lisa, said the small, icy voice in my head. You’re just not cut out for this. Also, you have no sense of style. At my lowest point, while surfing job boards at Starbucks, I actually locked myself in the bathroom and cried.

Here’s the good thing about rock bottom: Nothing is off-limits. I gave myself permission to try any and all tactics in the cover letter playbook, from throwing in a Beyoncé GIF to pretending the hiring manager and I were good friends. Finally, 103 cover letters later, I landed on one that worked.

Within an hour, I had an interview request waiting in my inbox—and then another, and another. Soon, my response rate skyrocketed from 0 to 55%, and I was scheduling interviews with Vogue, InStyle, and Rolling Stone into my calendar. In other words, this letter—fueled by an old copywriting framework called problem-agitate-solve—is powerful stuff.

Here’s how this three-part formula (a.k.a., my secret sauce) works:

1. Identify the Problem

55% of hiring managers don’t read cover letters. Why should they, when we write like modern-day Oliver Twists, begging them to please, sir, give us the job?

News flash: The hiring manager isn’t here to make your dreams come true. They’re in it for themselves. OK, that’s harsh, but the truth is that they’re looking for an awesome candidate to come in and do a kick-ass job that’ll help them run their department (or company) more efficiently and successfully. That’s why, when a friend tipped me off to an opening at the fashion magazine I’d read religiously since middle school, I resisted the urge to gush—and opened with this one-liner instead:

“As a veteran of and Vs. Magazine, I’ve seen how crazy fashion month can get.”

This sentence, though just 16 words long, tells the hiring manager two things: I understand the problem you’re trying to solve, and I’ve been there. The trick? Zeroing in on the right problem—because it’s almost never spelled out for you in the job description.

When you’re writing your own cover letter, start with the list of responsibilities and ask yourself, Why? Why is this task important to this company? Keep digging until you can’t go any further. The true need is usually the one at the end of a chain of whys.

2. Agitate the Problem

Now that you’ve identified the problem, here comes the fun part.

Because no hiring manager has ever said, “I just love paying employees thousands of dollars every year!” your challenge now is to remind him or her how painful the problem is, and by default, how valuable a solution could be. Don’t be afraid to twist the knife a bit, like I did in my second paragraph:

If you’re looking for someone who can not only keep up, but also deliver that SEO-friendly, 75-page street style slideshow five minutes ago…

Notice I didn’t say, “If you’re looking for someone who can turn around projects quickly…” I was specific, and I made sure to use an example I knew would resonate with a stressed-out web editor.

And if you’re new to the industry or the role? Just ask. This is exactly what informational interviews are for. Find someone on the team you’re applying to, let your interviewer do most of the talking, and pay close attention to how he or she discusses the company’s challenges.

In conversation, we instinctively trust people who mirror our body language. On your application, you won’t get the chance—but you can do the next best thing: Pick up on your interviewer’s subtle cues and phrases and then mirror their speaking language in your cover letter.

3. Offer the Solution

By this point, you’ve got the hiring manager squirming at the table. Now, deliver the solution. Hint: It’s you.

Think about what makes you incredibly qualified to solve the problem. In my case, I knew I wanted the hiring manager to think of me and say, “Lisa? Oh, she’s the one who knows our backend systems and seems like a real go-getter.”

Here’s how I made it happen:

“Since TeamSite and I are old friends, I’ll be able to hit the ground running—and whether it’s churning out a dozen blog posts per day or refreshing the homepage with breaking fashion month news, I’ve done it all. Most importantly, you’ll never hear me say, “That’s not my job!”

4. Close With Confidence

After all that work, you aren’t going to dash off a breathless “Hope to hear from you soon!” right? Instead, seal the deal with a sentence that displays confidence, competence, and a genuine interest in the company:

“I’d love to learn more about your production needs and how I can help!”

Boom. That’s it.

Like its contrarian sibling, the pain letter, this cover letter takes some guts to send. I get it—the first time I fired it off, I was so terrified my boyfriend had to hit the enter button for me.

Look at it this way, though: Everyone else will compete on how many buzzwords they can stuff in a sentence. They’ll swear up and down how passionate they are and how hard they work. But you? With this cover letter formula, you’ve already proved it.

You, my friend, play a different game.

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By Lillian Wamaitha,
How can I get a job without experience? Thousands of fresh graduates find themselves sooner than later asking this age-old question. If all jobs require experience, how can you get that first job when your only experience is your degree or diploma?

Soon you will find yourself in the situation where your dream job just got posted, and you’re super excited. There’s just one problem, you literally have zero relevant work experience. Considering that you are a fresh graduate with no internships under your belt, what can you actually put on your CV that makes you look as qualified as possible?

Worry not. There are a few different things you can include, as well as a couple of formatting tricks, that will help you present yourself in the best light possible.

1. Indicate your relevant skills

Naturally we are used to beginning a CV with relevant work experience or education, whichever formatting suits you best. This becomes a problem when the relevant work experience isn’t your strong suit. It is therefore advisable that when composing a compelling CV, don’t waste your time compiling things that may just end up confusing the hiring manager. Instead start your CV by outlining those skills you think are relevant and transferable to the job, for instance research skills. We all have skills that make us special otherwise you wouldn’t be applying for that job. These are the reasons why you think you are suited for the role you are applying for. And why the hiring manager should consider your CV among the thousands s/he has on the desk.

2. Tackling the Experience Part

For entry-level candidates, the experience section is probably the biggest challenge one comes across when putting together a CV. One thing you need to keep in mind is that you don’t want to have an experience section that is empty or filled with experience that is not relevant to the job you are applying for. The trick as most experts would advice is to again focus on your skills. From there you can then group your experience under these skills. Say for instance, you said you have time management skills. You can outline things like how you managed detailed project plan to coordinate activities among team members for final group presentations. Since you may not have a lot of experience, it is important to include coursework, class projects, volunteer work or extracurricular activities that are related to your target job. While these may not be paid experiences, they are still valid experiences that you can list in your CV.

3. Put together an enthusiastic cover letter

Most will agree that this isn’t technically part of your CV, but I am a firm believer of always coupling a CV with a strong cover letter. This is especially important if you have no relevant experience or a winding career path. find a way to connect your passions and life experiences with the company, then explain how that will translate into you hitting the ground running once you’re hired. You’ll find that link is exactly the kind of experience employers are looking for from fresh graduates.

Making it into a new career is hard work. The trick to overcoming this is to really iron out those details like relevant skills and related side projects. Add on a riveting cover letter and, with a combination of networking and some luck, you’ll be sure to grab a hiring manager’s interest soon.

I’ve read a lot of cover letters throughout my career. When I was a fellowship program manager, I reviewed them in consideration for more than 60 open positions each year. So I saw it all—the good, the bad, and the standout examples that I can still remember.

As a result, I’ve become the go-to friend when people need feedback on their job applications. Based on my own experience putting people in the “yes” (and “no”) pile, I’m able to give these cover letters a quick scan and immediately identify what’ll turn a hiring manager off.

While I can’t give you insight into every person’s head who’ll be reading your materials, I can share with you the feedback that I give my own loved ones.

1. The Basics

First things first, I skim the document for anything that could be disqualifying. That includes typos, a “Dear Sir or Madam” or “To Whom It May Concern” salutation, or a vibe so non-specific that it reeks of find-replace. I know it seems harsh, but when a hiring manager sees any one of these things, she reads it as, “I didn’t take my time with this, and I don’t really care about working here.” So, she’s likely to pass.

Another thing I look for in this initial read through is tone. Even if you’re applying to your dream company, you don’t want to come off like you think someone entertaining your candidacy is the same as him offering you water at the end of a lengthy hike. You don’t need to thank the hiring manager so incredibly much for reading your application—that’s his job. If you align considering your application with the biggest favor ever, you’ll make the other person think it’s because you’re desperate.

So, skip effusive thanks and demonstrate genuine interest by writing a cover letter that connects the dots between your experience and the requirements of the position. Telling the reader what you’ve accomplished and how it directly translates to meeting the company’s needs is always a better use of space than gushing.

2. The Opening Sentence

If your first line reads: “I am writing to apply for [job] at [company],” I will delete it and suggest a swap every time. (Yes, every single time.) When a hiring manager sees that, she won’t think, “How thoughtful of the applicant to remind me what I’m reading!” Her reaction will be much closer to, “boring,” “meh,” or even “next!”

Compare it to one of these statements:

  • “I’ve wanted to work in education ever since my third grade teacher, Mrs. Dorchester, helped me discover a love of reading.”
  • “My approach to management is simple: I strive to be the kind of leader I’d want to work for.”
  • “In my three years at [prior company], I increased our average quarterly sales by [percentage].”

See how these examples make you want to keep reading? That’s half the battle right there. Additionally, it makes you memorable, which’ll help when you’re competing against a sea of applicants.

To try it out for yourself, pick a jumping off point. It could be something about you or an aspect of the job description that you’re really drawn to. Then, open a blank document and just free write (translation: write whatever comes to mind) for 10 minutes. Some of the sentences you come up with will sound embarrassing or lame: That’s fine—no one has to see those! Look for the sentence that’s most engaging and see how it reads as the opening line for your cover letter.

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Like the dreaded “Tell me about yourself,” the question, “Why are you interested in this position?” is sure to come up in an interview.

And, even if it doesn’t, if you want the job you should get this sentiment across regardless. So, really, there’s no way around figuring out how to string together a coherent thought about why this being in this position makes sense for you (and for the company).

Luckily, there’s actually a pretty simple way to go about answering this question effectively without having to go through every big moment or transition in your life and career that’s brought you to this interview. Here’s a smart framework for how you should structure your answer.

Step 1: Express Enthusiasm for the Company

First things first, this is an excellent opportunity for you to show off what you know about the company. You can talk all day about how excited you are about joining the team, but nothing will trump actually knowing a thing or two about the place you’re interviewing with. So, to prepare, spend some time honing in on what you know about the company and select a few key factors to incorporate into your pitch for why you’re a good fit.

Say you’re interviewing for a small quantitative asset management company. The start of your answer might sound something like this:

The first thing that caught my eye when I saw the position posted was definitely that it was at EFG Advisers. I know that you build a lot of your tools in-house, the team is small, and you run a variety of long- and short-term strategies in the U.S. equities markets using a quantitative approach.

Especially with smaller companies, it’s always impressive when a candidate knows a thing or two about what goes on at the company. And the best thing about this is you rarely have to go beyond reviewing the company website or having a quick conversation with a current or past employee to learn enough to sound like you’ve been following the company for a while.

Step 2: Align Your Skills and Experiences With the Role

Next, you want to sell why, exactly, you’re right for the role. There are two ways you can do this: You can either focus more on your experiences (what you’ve done before that brings you to this point) or your skills (especially helpful if you’re pivoting positions or industries).

Try to pinpoint what the main part of the role entails, plus a couple of the “desired skills” in the job description, and make sure you speak to that. Follow up your introduction to how excited you are about the company with why you’re a good fit:

But the part that really spoke to me about this position was the chance to combine both the programming skills I gained from being a senior software engineer and my knack for quantitative analysis in a position that actively lets me engage with my growing interest in investing and portfolio management.

Keep it short—you’ll have plenty of opportunities to talk about how you got your skills or relevant stories throughout the interview—and just focus on highlighting a couple key relevant abilities or experiences for the position.

Step 3: Connect to Your Career Trajectory

Finally, you want to show that the position makes sense for where you’re going in your career. Ideally, you won’t give the impression that you’re just using the position as a stepping stone. Show that you’ll be around for the long haul, and your interviewer will feel more comfortable investing in you:

I’ve been interested in switching to finance for a while now and have been actively managing my own personal portfolio for a few years. Joining a quant shop makes sense to me because I think it’s one of the few places where I’ll still be able to use my technical skills and spend my day thinking about finance. I’m really excited to learn more and see how I’ll be able to contribute the firm.

Of course, you don’t have to state specifically that you see yourself in the position for a long time. Just show that you’ve given some thought to how the job makes sense for you now and that it continues to make sense for the foreseeable future.

String these three components together, and you have a response that will impress on three fronts: your knowledge and enthusiasm for the company, your relevant skills, and your general fit with the position. Plus, this framework has the added benefit of not stopping the flow of the conversation the way going through your entire life story would.

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This may seem like a softball, get to know you question—but really it’s your chance to make an unbelievable first impression.

So don’t just spout of random anecdotes about your life or—worse—recite your resume (they already know that information!). We know it’s hard to brag about yourself, but you need to use this question to make it crystal clear why you’re awesome and why you’re the perfect person for this job.


Interviewer: Have a seat. Tell me a little bit about yourself.

Jimmy: Well, you know, I always say I make a very big first impression. You’d probably be surprised to know that my first word was [beep].

Interviewer: You may be tempted to tell your whole life story, but don’t. Interviewers really don’t want to hear it. Let’s try that again.

Jimmy: [Sigh] This question’s always so hard…

Interviewer: We know. Talking about yourself is a little hard, but it’s kind of the point of an interview. So let’s try that again, but this time, with a little more confidence.

Jimmy: My name is Alex Green and you can reach me at [email protected] From 2009…

Interviewer: Yikes. Don’t just recite your resume, either. Your response to this question should be like a mini elevator pitch. Here, try the present, past, future structure. This is one sentence highlighting what you’re doing today, one sentence highlighting a relevant past experience, and a third sentence highlighting exactly why you’re excited for this job.

Jimmy: Well, I currently work as a content marketer where I help promote brands by creating blog posts, ebooks, and videos. In the past, I’ve worked with all sorts of marketing channels, from social media to emails. I’m really, really excited about this opportunity, where I’ll get to combine all of those experiences to help a startup like yours grow.

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