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Do Your Homework

Do Your Homework

By Matt Lowney


Doing your homework prior to submitting your resume and throughout the hiring process can really help separate you from other applicants. This homework begins once you decide to submit your resume and continues through the entire application process. Below are some ideas on how and when to best prepare for an open position. 


Submitting your resume. Once you identify a position, you need to learn about the company and industry, especially if it is outside your current field. While you shouldn’t invest too much time applying for just one position, you should start by looking at the job description (which you can usually find in detail in the career section of the company’s website) to see what specific skills the position entails.  Use this as an outline for your resume. Make sure to include all your skills that are a match. You would be well suited to make sure they were in a similar order. 


The phone screen. Once a company has shown some interest, you need to step up your preparation as well. After you have looked at the company’s website, go online to find out information about their standing and reputation in the industry.  If this is a small business, call the Better Business Bureau to see about a reference. How a company treats its customers goes a long way in determining how it treats its employees and its overall corporate culture.  In addition try to find out information about the specific hiring manager. Speaking to someone you know at the company is the best way to learn about this person, but you can also go online or After you’ve done your investigation about the company and hiring manager, really delve into the job description. This is where you will learn the most about the skills the company is looking for.  Most hiring mangers understand that you won’t have every skill listed, but skills are usually listed in order of importance. Make sure to highlight your strengths based on the listing of skills in the job description.


The in-person interview. If the company has decided to bring you in for a face-to-face interview you know that you are in short list of candidates. At this point you should be fairly comfortable with the company, its products and services, market trends, and its main competitors in the market. In the time between the phone screen and interview you should brush up on any rusty skills. You know that most candidates freeze up in the face-to-face interview, so by showing that you are calm, confident, and collected you’ve already beaten most of your competition for the job. Make sure to prepare some key talking points as well as some insightful questions to let the hiring manager know you have really put some effort and time into preparing for this interview.


Matt Lowney is a Nashville, Tenn based recruiter, career consultant, and co-host of Career Talk, a weekly one hour career advice radio talk show that airs from 5 to 6 pm each Friday on WAKM 950.  For more information he can be reached at