CLEARED JOB SEEKER GUIDE
As a cleared job seeker your job search is a little different.
That’s why we’ve prepared this guide to provide you with
tips on how to make your next career transition as smooth
If there were one type of recruiter or hiring professional it
would be easy to determine the best tactic for getting their
attention, securing the interview, and landing the job. But
there isn’t. Each hiring professional is as unique as the job
seeker who wants to meet them.
Your job search strategy must encompass many different
tools and approaches. If you need assistance or have
questions, contact the ClearedJobs.Net Customer
Service team available live daily from 8am-6pm EST, at
CustomerService@ClearedJobs.Net or 703-871-0037, Opt. 4.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. Career Development Strategy
2. Resumes, Profiles and Your Elevator Speech
3. Job Boards and Career Sites –
Research and Tactical Tools in Your Career Search
4. Networking for Success
5. Career Events and Job Fairs
6. Social Media and Online Networking
to Support Your Career Search
7. Acing Your Interviews
8. Salary and Benefits Negotiation
9. Starting a New Job on the Right Foot
10. Good Hunting
1. CAREER DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY
I Don’t Know What I Want to Do
For an effective job search you need to know what you want to do, or at least come
close to it. If you’re unsure what you want to do, your first steps are research and
• Look at the types of jobs that might interest you and see what the skill
requirements are. Do you have those skills or are they attainable? Be realistic.
• If you’re unsure what work that is or you want a comprehensive overview of any
field, check out the Riley Guide. It has links to all sorts of career information.
• Find the professional and trade associations that are relevant to your interests
and read everything they offer on the careers, companies, trends, and issues of
the field. Go to some meetings to learn about current topics and meet people
in the field.
• Talk to friends, colleagues and mentors for feedback on your skills, the things
they think you enjoy as well as what they think you don’t enjoy. Their input might
• Go on informational interviews Learn about the day-to-day activities of fields
that interest you. They may not be as glamorous as they appear from the outside.
People who have a written plan for
their careers tend to be considerably
To that end, we recommend you create
a Career Strategy Plan to formalize:
• What you want to do
• What you don’t want to do
• How you plan on achieving your goals
• Positions you’ve held
• Skills and accomplishments
• Dates of employment
• Education and training
The Career Strategy Plan is your
master document to keep all the info
you use to develop your job search
tools in one convenient location.
CAREER DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY
I Know What I Want to Do
In developing your checklist for a new position, answer these
questions to focus your job search and prepare yourself for the
coming steps of the job search process.
Where am I in my career
Are you looking for a position that is a stepping stone to future
success so you can add to your skills and experience? Or will your
next position likely be your dream job? What do you really want from
your next job?
What salary, benefits and other compensation do I want
Research both external market trends and pay data for your role
and about the value you can demonstrate to an employer. Do your
homework so you have a realistic range of your value when you
are asked about pay expectations. Where do you find this data?
Glassdoor, professional associations and from networking.
Where do I want to work geographically
How far are you willing to commute? Are you open to relocation?
What companies do I want to work for
You need to target potential employers and focus on them in your
job search. The goal is to build relationships with recruiters and
employees of those target companies to gain access and knowledge
about the jobs the company has to offer, the culture, goals, etc.
What do I enjoy doing and want to do in the future
This question gives guidance to your elevator speech, networking
priorities, interviewing questions and resume.
What do I not like to do and want to avoid in the future
It’s important to figure out what you want to avoid as well, because
you may have accomplishments in areas that you didn’t enjoy. Focus
on the areas that you do enjoy.
Research the Market
Now that you have determined which of your skills you enjoy and
want to pursue in the future, research the market for those skills
Find a job board that you think will be relevant to your search and do
keyword searches.Use those job board search results to gather intel on:
• Which companies are hiring
• Where they are hiring
• What types of positions are available and match your skill set
• What keywords companies are using for your skill set
Are there any new skill sets, education or training you need to
pursue for your desired targets?
For the companies you want to target, check out their web site
and social media profiles to get a flavor for their culture and focus.
Review them on Glassdoor and on Indeed Forums to see what their
employees are saying about the company.
CAREER DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY
Job Search Metrics
Develop and maintain metrics to keep your job search
organized and chart your progress. How many jobs have you
applied for at General Dynamics-IT and what were they? Who
did you interview with at HP six months ago? If you’re up for
another HP position, that info will be helpful. Who have you
networked with at HP that could put in a good word for you?
And so on.
For some job seekers it’s a spreadsheet. For others it’s
handwritten in a notebook. Whatever your method, it’s
important to keep track of your progress to identify weak
spots for correction and to keep your job search organized
and moving forward.
Some of the items you should consider tracking:
• Potential target organizations reached
• Connections contacted
• Applications made / resumes submitted
• Phone / screening interviews completed
• Face-to-face interviews completed
• Follow-up interviews completed
• Offers received
2. RESUMES, PROFILES AND YOUR ELEVATOR SPEECH
My Work Is Classified
Your work is classified, but there are many aspects which are not.
Do you do data analysis? Write reports? Prepare action plans? Brief others? Define
software needs? Integrate various sources into a comprehensive whole? Interview
people? Manage projects?
As a worker, are you someone others turn to for help? Do you train new people? Are
you the technical expert for your field? Do you manage people who love to work for
you? Can you turn a difficult client into a fan? Or sell new ideas? Are your data sets
always clean and useful?
There are ways to talk about your work without endangering operational security.
Steer clear of details such as names of colleagues, project titles and budgets, or
agency-specific tools. Experienced cleared recruiters know how to read between
the lines of cleared candidates’ resumes.
Your cleared resume is an ad, not your biography. The goal of your resume is to get a
hiring manager or recruiter to contact you. Great resumes catch the reader’s attention
immediately and show a pattern of accomplishment or achievement.A recent study
showed that recruiters spend an average of six seconds reviewing a resume.
After you develop your career
strategy and goals, it’s time to
build your resume, online profiles,
elevator speech and interview
talking points. Use the Career
Strategy Plan you created as the
guide for building these tools.
“Job seekers use an elevator speech
more than any other job search tool.
Make sure you give yours the time
and attention it deserves.”
Talent Acquisition Manager, SAIC
RESUMES, PROFILES AND YOUR ELEVATOR SPEECH
You must customize your resume for each job you apply for, using the keywords
of your field as well as the keywords of the targeted employer. Does this employer
refer to the position as an Instructor while you’ve been using the keyword Trainer?
Formatting does matter, as this heat mapping eye chart that follows a recruiter’s
eye viewing two resumes demonstrates. The resume on the left is written in
paragraphs like a novel. The resume on the right uses bullet points, bolding
and white space, which draw the recruiter’s eye through the entire document.
Keywords are nouns or phrases that
describe your skills or responsibilities.
Key words are hard skills such as .Net
Developer or Systems Administrator vs.
soft skills such as team player. When
recruiters search a job seeker database
such as ClearedJobs.Net, they are
searching on keywords to find you.
Common resume mistakes
for cleared job seekers:
1. Copying a resume used in an RFP
written in the third person
2. Listing responsibilities vs.
3. Failing to customize the resume
to the position
4. Burying your security clearance
RESUMES, PROFILES AND YOUR ELEVATOR SPEECH
The Most Important Section
of Your Cleared Resume
This is the top 2-3 inches of the first page, often referred to as the
Golden Zone. It’s particularly important on job boards as recruiters
will initially view your resume in a small preview pane that only
shows them the top of the resume. Don’t waste this space by
making your name too large or over listing contact phone numbers
and emails. The critical elements:
1. Your name. Be consistent with your name across all channels of
your job search so you don’t confuse recruiters.
2. City and State. You don’t need to include a street address.
3. One contact email and one contact phone number. Don’t
provide multiple options to confuse the recruiter.
4. Security clearance. Don’t make a recruiter search through your
resume to find your clearance. Put it at the top.
5. Summary. An objective is optional because that’s all about you.
A summary is what you offer of value to the specific targeted
employer you’re interested in. Include two to three lines of crisp,
clean, jargon-free critical experience and relevant attributes such
Accomplishments Not Responsibilities. For most job seekers,
this is the most important improvement you can make to your
resume. Communicate your accomplishments for each position.
List the company name, job titles and dates. If you work for a small
contractor, include a very brief sentence about the company.
Make your accomplishments relevant to your target; particularly
when you are changing the focus of your job. State your
achievements in terms that are easy for the hiring manager and
recruiter to understand.
The formula to develop your accomplishments:
Task – Action – Results
What were the tasks or responsibilities that you had, the actions
that you took and the results of those actions. Demonstrate your
growth and tailor what you have accomplished to the position you
are applying for. Show your target audience what you have to offer
them, so they have no reason to turn you down. A couple examples:
• Led strategic redesign of the HR and Payroll department from silo
to team-based operation. Results: improved customer service to
government client while lowering turnover in HR/Payroll department.
• Took over failing contract; within 90 days built effective customer
relationships, improved critical metrics, closed all overdue items,
and led team to successful re-award.
Resume Design. Your resume will be scanned at some point in your
job search, even if you provided a hard copy. Keep it simple and
avoid heavy paper, colored fonts, shading, overbolding and tiny type.
Five things to avoid when designing your resume.
Resume Length. For a defense contractor your resume should
be no longer than two pages. Delete all information that does not
directly support your value. Cut down on older jobs, especially if
they are more than 10 years old. Don’t waste space on education
or training that is not needed now. Skip old professional
associations or awards or recognition. Keep only those which will
help you make your case right now. The only exception to this rule
is if you are very senior.
Operational Security. The resume that you upload to ClearedJobs.Net
should include your security clearance and skills and accomplishments.
No version of your resume should include classified project names
or the names of colleagues, office size or budget. Your public
networking resume and your LinkedIn profile should not include
your security clearance.
RESUMES, PROFILES AND YOUR ELEVATOR SPEECH
Elevator Speech or
For an effective job search you need to communicate who you are
and what you are looking for in interviews, at job fairs, or in any
networking situation. You’ll need several versions of your elevator
speech depending on the situation.
1. Try to keep to 30-45 seconds, or four or five sentences.
Tailor your speech to the situation as necessary.
2. Think of headlines or an ad that you could write for yourself.
Make sure you interest the listener. State the main focus of your
past work achievements in 1-2 sentences.
3. When talking to employers, reference the type of work
you’ve done, your strengths in that line of work, and soft skills
that demonstrate your value.
4. Include your clearance when talking to a recruiter from a
cleared facilities employer
5. Avoid buzzwords and say what makes you unique.
6. When networking, include what brings you to the event,
what issues you are interested in, and ask the other person
what interests them.
7. Ask for feedback from friends on your speech. Practice!
3. JOB BOARDS AND CAREER SITES
Research and Tactical Tools in Your Career Search
When you first start using a job board, don’t be overly specific with your keyword
searches. Job descriptions vary greatly and many companies use different terms
for the same type of work. For example a Recruiter may be called an HR Specialist
or a Talent Acquisition Manager.
Begin with broad searches and then refine as you get the hang of creating the
search strings that return the results you are seeking.
Your Profile and Why It’s Important
Your job board profile includes your contact information, industry, education, salary,
key skills, certifications, desired work location and security clearance.
When a recruiter does a keyword search their results display the job seeker’s profile,
so your profile information is critical. The recruiter also can preview the top part of a
job seeker’s resume if the profile grabs their interest.
This format allows recruiters to quickly view job seekers’ information in a standard
format. It also allows them to see preliminary information, as viewing your complete
resume triggers OFCCP reporting requirements.
Job seekers use job boards to search
and apply for positions and to mine
the data contained in a job board to
develop their job search strategy.
Job boards are the second most
important source of hire per recent
studies by ERE and CareerXroads, so
using a job board is one of the tactics
to use for a comprehensive job search.
Do You Want Your Information
to be Public, Private or Anonymous
You control whether the cleared facilities employers who have paid to have
access to ClearedJobs.Net can view your information. The options on your
Searchable vs. Unsearchable
This controls whether or not recruiters can find your resume through a
Resume is Public vs. Resume is Private
This controls recruiters’ access to your Profile. If you don’t want recruiters
proactively contacting you, make this Private.
Resume is Active vs. Resume is Inactive
This controls whether your account is active or inactive. It’s a quick way to shut
down your account without deleting the account. For example if you’ve found a
new job, you can make your profile inactive, but it’s still available to you the next
time you’re seeking employment.
I’m an Anonymous Job Seeker
If you want to be anonymous, make your Resume Private and Searchable, while
also deleting your name or other identifying information from your resume.
The recruiter can send you a message to contact them, which is sent to the
email address linked to your ClearedJobs.Net account.
Block Employers from Accessing Your Information
Use the Block Employer function in your Profile to block your current employer—
or any employer—from seeing your information. You will still be searchable by
other cleared facilities employers.
JOB BOARDS AND CAREER SITES
JOB BOARDS AND CAREER SITES
Statistics let you know how many times your resume has been
viewed. If no recruiters are viewing your resume, review your
keywords to make sure you’re using the appropriate terms.
Statistics also tracks your saved searches and recent searches
you have performed. If you failed to save a recent search that you
wanted to keep, this is where you can find it.
Lastly you can track your Job Applications. View how many jobs
you have applied for, the company name, date applied and a link
to view the job description. It’s a great tool for keeping your job
Refresh Your Account At Least
Every 30 Days
Log in to your account at least once a month so recruiters know
you are still an active job seeker.
Recruiters view their search results in chronological order, and
they typically search only job seekers who have been active in the
past 30 days. Beyond that timeframe recruiters assume you are no
longer in the job market or have found employment.
Once you have figured out the keyword searches that return the
results that interest you, save the search as a Job Agent. You’ll then
receive an email with any new positions that match your criteria.
4. NETWORKING FOR SUCCESS
Who Are Your Contacts
Determine your contacts as a first step. If you have a LinkedIn account you’re way
ahead of the game as LinkedIn will quickly build your network. If you don’t have a
LinkedIn account now is the time to create one. You want to determine who your
• Colleagues, managers, clients, vendors
• Classmates, teachers, professors
• Church, professional or other group organization members
Contact these folks via phone, email, LinkedIn, Facebook, in person –
however you communicate with them most effectively. The information
you want to share and what you are looking for from them:
• You’re launching a job search
• Specifics about the type of work you are seeking, target employers,
geography, etc., It’s a version of your elevator speech
• Are they aware of any jobs that meet your criteria
Most job seekers get their new job
through some form of networking.
A job search that is effective and that
results in a job that is right for you
means you have to network both
online and offline.
In government contracting employee
referrals are very important; more
so than in the private sector as a
whole. A 2012 Jobvite study shows
that 1 in 7 employee referrals are hired.
Those are pretty good odds. And it’s
why focusing on the target companies
you want to work for and networking
with employees of those companies
can be so effective.
Continued on following page...
NETWORKING FOR SUCCESS
• Do they know anyone in your field or target employers
• If they work at one of your target employers, any tips or contacts
they can provide about the company
• Can they recommend you on LinkedIn or serve as a reference
Is there any way you can help them? When you network effectively
you’ll have valuable information to pass on to your network as well.
Don’t overly focus on your close friends and contacts. Their
networks are often very similar to yours. Contacts that you barely
know may be able to provide you with the best results as their
networks are likely very different from yours.
Informational interviews are a good tool for building deeper
relationships with your contacts and gathering valuable info.
Tips for effective informational interviews:
• Be early
• Offer to pay for the other person’s purchase
• Respect their limited time, so ask for 15-20 minutes
• Do your homework ahead of time so you’re not asking
• Your goal is to gather information about the company, job
openings and any advice they may have, as well as what their
career goals and plans are. You might be able to help them.
• Be sure to thank them and ask if they have a contact they
could recommend you talk to
• Send a thank you
Care and Feeding Your Network
Maintain your network both during job search and after you’ve
landed your new position. You never know when you may need them
again. To maintain your network:
• Communicate when you’ve taken an action related to them. For
example if they referred you to someone, what was the outcome?
• Keep them posted on at least a quarterly basis the status of your
job search. Ask about them as well. Is there anything you know
that may help them?
• Help people they refer to you and communicate the outcome.
• Send any news or info that may be relevant to them, such as job
listings, news or articles.
• Respond to them on social media, such as retweeting their
Tweets or commenting on articles they post on LinkedIn.
• On LinkedIn provide Endorsements or better yet, Recommendations
for folks you worked with that might end up being references.
You’ll also show up higher in LinkedIn search results.
• Remember them at the holidays, birthdays, or other appropriate
events based on your relationship.
5. CAREER EVENTS AND JOB FAIRS
To prepare for a Cleared Job Fair:
1. Research the companies that are
exhibiting and the positions they
are seeking to fill.
2. Dress as if you were going to an
interview. If you are transitioning
military, a uniform is acceptable.
3. Bring extra hard copies of your
resume. The facility may not have the
ability to make copies, so be prepared.
4. Talk to as many employers as you can.
This is your opportunity to explore
and learn so don’t limit yourself to the
big names in the room. Check out the
small- and mid-sized companies too.
5. You have a limited amount of time
with each company recruiter so
be very sensitive to this. The more
specific you can be about what you
are looking for and any particular
positions that interest you, the better.
6. Make sure you nail down specific
follow up details. Ask if you can
connect with the recruiter on LinkedIn
and get their business card.
7. Be sure to thank the recruiter for their
time. Send a personalized thank you
email that lists one or two key points
about why you would be an asset to
8. Network with other job seekers. While
you’re standing in line waiting to talk
to an employer talk to the job seekers
around you. You’ll gain new contacts
for your network and information that
may aid your search.
9. Take advantage of any extra offers
such as professional resume reviews
or career seminars.
The recruiters at a job fair are typically
not the people that will offer you a job or
hire you. They are the ambassadors or
the gateway to the company. Their job
is to talk to you about their company,
screen you and your skills, and assess
if you should be promoted to the next
step in the process. A recruiter can
be your internal champion and an
important resource for you.
“Talk to every employer at a job fair. This
is networking time and an opportunity
might be where you neglect to go. That’s
why they call it job hunting.”
Talent Acquisition, Engility
6. SOCIAL MEDIA & ONLINE NETWORKING
TO SUPPORT YOUR CAREER SEARCH
Your Social Media Profiles Will Be Reviewed
Recruiters have many tools at their fingertips for sharing and gathering information. Most
will be using LinkedIn, but others will be using Facebook and Twitter as well. If you have an
active presence on Facebook or Twitter, they can be effective tools for your job search.
Various studies have shown that close to 90% of recruiters will review job seekers’
social network profiles and online presence.
Many of the same professional guidelines that you would use in a networking event
apply to your online networking: Connect with people appropriately, be courteous and
professional and acknowledge and thank others for connecting with you.
Take Control of Your Online Brand
You need to know what information about you is available to potential employers online.
• Google or Bing yourself and review the information that appears. Be sure to check
images as well.
• Do you need to change any profiles or other information you control so it’s employer
appropriate and employer friendly?
• Do you need to change your privacy settings to limit the information available?
Social media has three impacts
on your job search:
1. Expands your networking and
information sharing options
2. Provides reputational information
about your skills and abilities for
3. Offers a rich database of information
to aid in your search
You need to determine how you will
use social media in your job search
and the limitations that you should
employ based on the classified
nature of your position.
SOCIAL MEDIA & ONLINE NETWORKING TO SUPPORT YOUR CAREER SEARCH
Set up a Google alert to monitor mentions of your name and mentions of the
companies you are targeting for employment. That way you can stay on top of
relevant news for your target employers.
If you have a very limited online presence and you are targeting high-tech employers
or if you’re an older (40+) job seeker, consider creating a Google profile to develop a
more robust online presence. Being in touch with today’s technology and being open
and adaptable to change are highly valued skills for any employer.
Be Consistent with Your Information
Don’t create seeds of doubt in a recruiter’s mind. Be consistent with your information
across all social media platforms.
• Use the same name on all sites, on your resume, cover letter, job applications,
email address, email signature, etc.
• Use similar biographic information.
• Use the same professional head-shot photo on all social media sites.
• Link your social media profiles. For example include your LinkedIn profile on
your Google profile.
In today’s professional world, it’s an expectation that you will have a LinkedIn profile.
This is where recruiter’s focus, so make sure your profile is complete and a proper
reflection of your talents and accomplishments.
Create a profile and upload information from your public resume. Be sure to use
relevant keywords and include a headshot of yourself in professional attire. Do not
post your security clearance on your profile. Add Skills, which both adds keywords to
your profile and shows you other professionals in your network with the same skills.
“Social networking is an invaluable
resource if you use it wisely. Maintaining
a professional online presence is very
important if using social media as a job
searching vehicle. Social Media allows
you to connect with recruiters in real
time to talk about your career search
and learn more about the company you
are interested in joining. ”
HR Global Operations, HP
Recruiters react most negatively to:
Source: Jobvite Social Recruiting Survey 2012
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80
Pictures of alcohol consumption
References to doing illegal drugs
Posts/tweets of a sexual nature
Profanity in posts/tweets
Spelling/grammar errors in posts/tweets
SOCIAL MEDIA & ONLINE NETWORKING TO SUPPORT YOUR CAREER SEARCH
Build your professional network. LinkedIn will constantly recommend to you
people to connect with because there is information on their profile that is similar
to yours, such as schools, employers, groups, or people you are connected with.
Whenever possible personalize your invitations to connect so you can ensure the
person you are trying to connect with knows who you are.
Be a thought leader in your network. Demonstrate your knowledge and
professionalism to potential employers by posting relevant status updates of articles
or information, and commenting on information others in your network have posted.
Do this with both status updates and in groups.
Join and participate in relevant groups. Follow and join discussions, ask questions
and view job postings from other members of the group. Network and engage with
others in the group by posting information and commenting on posts from other
members, especially if they are employees of your target companies.
Join the ClearedJobs.Net LinkedIn group
Get and give strategic recommendations. Recommendations give potential
employers another window on how you perform on the job. It’s information they
likely will not see on your profile or resume. Make sure your recommendations have
substance and are not just “attaboys”.
Select appropriate Skills. Endorsements are a crowd-sourced form of confirming
your expertise in particular areas.You want to proactively select Skills, which adds
keywords to your profile. This also means that when others in your network endorse
you, it’s for Skills that you have chosen vs. what LinkedIn has pulled from your profile.
Research and follow companies. LinkedIn is a goldmine of information about
your target companies and the people who work there. When you search a company
you get information on the people in your network who have a connection with that
company.You can also search on particular employee details to make a connection,
such as School attended, Profile Language, Groups and so on.
When you search a company on
LinkedIn you find info on the company’s
employees which can be a starting point
for a deeper connection. For example
if employees of the company attended
the same college that you attended,
were in the same branch of the service,
etc., you have a shared attribute you
can use to make a connection.
SOCIAL MEDIA & ONLINE NETWORKING TO SUPPORT YOUR CAREER SEARCH
The primary benefit of Facebook for your job search is being able to share with
your friends that you are looking for a job. Other ways you can use Facebook in
your job search:
• Include work information in your profile
• Upload your public or networking resume to your notes. This is a public forum
so don’t include your security clearance.
• Re-check your privacy settings so you know what information you’re sharing
• Like and follow your target companies and professional organizations
Follow ClearedJobs.Net on Facebook
Twitter is similar to text messaging, with a 140 character limitation. Many use Twitter
as a news feed for instant information and updates.
Companies and their recruiters use Twitter to share job openings and other news
about the company. How can you use Twitter in your job search?
• Follow and connect with your target companies and their recruiters.
• Network and connect with experts and others who work in your profession. Follow
practitioners in your field that you think may be a step ahead of you on your
career path. If you follow someone they generally follow you back, which will build
• Use relevant keywords in your profile and make sure it’s employer appropriate.
• Share information that shows you are a thought leader in your profession. It can
take a good six months to become known as a thoughtful voice worth following.
Follow ClearedJobs.Net on Twitter
Content recruiters want to see:
Content to post with caution:
Source: Jobvite Social Recruiting Survey 2012
50 60 70 80
Memberships in professional organizations
Overly religious poasts/tweets
Volunteering / donations to charity
References to Burning Man
Other Social Networking Options
You may also want to search for a networking group on
Meetup. There are industry groups, networking groups
and alumni groups which will introduce you to other
professionals who can support your career search.
YouTube is a rich source of job search information, with
many videos on interviewing tips, elevator speeches,
what it’s like to work at particular companies, and so on.
Also check to see if your target companies have YouTube
channels and review their videos.
There are several ning groups that may help your job
search. These specialized social networks allow you
to create a profile and network and share information
with similar professionals. If you’re interested in
working for state, federal or local government, check
out GovLoop.com. If you’re an intel professional, visit
SlideShare.net is another popular source of information
that is relevant to your job search. SlideShare is a platform
for PowerPoint presentations, but don’t let that keep you
away. There’s a lot of relevant job search info presented in
an innovative format.
SOCIAL MEDIA & ONLINE NETWORKING TO SUPPORT YOUR CAREER SEARCH
7. ACING YOUR INTERVIEWS
Phone Screen Interview
Most recruiters will do an initial call to determine whether you meet the position
specs, if they can afford you, and whether it makes sense to send you to the next level
of the process.
• If a recruiter calls and you’re not prepared, reschedule. Then do your homework.
Research the company and the position and determine if this is the job for you.
• This is your chance to use your elevator speech or 30-second commercial to share
with a recruiter who you are and what you are looking for. Make sure you’re ready
for that too.
• Prepare a few questions that you can ask the recruiter. Is this a current opportunity
or are they bidding on a contract? What are the opportunities for growth?
Be positive and energetic.
• If this isn’t the job for you, say so. Do you know anyone who would be interested
and qualified? The recruiter will appreciate the referral.
Your interview starts with the first
interaction you have with a potential
employer. From your online profiles,
resume, and conduct on the phone,
you are already being evaluated and
opinions about you are being formed.
Be prepared and professional for each
interaction you have.
ACING YOUR INTERVIEWS
You’ve been called in for an interview. As you know, first impressions
are critical. The people you interview with will unknowingly make
judgments about you within the first 30 seconds of meeting you.
Those impressions may be based on how you shake hands or how
you’re dressed, among other things. Bad impressions are very
difficult to overcome, so strive to make a positive first impression.
1. Research the company and the position. Update your
research on the company and the position before each
interview. Google the company and check out their social
media profiles for the most current information.
2. Practice your answers. You don’t want to sound as though
you have canned responses, but you do need to prepare for
difficult questions you may be asked. Especially if you don’t
think quickly on your feet. How would you answer these
difficult interview questions?
3. Show up on time. Promptness is important and showing
up late plants seeds of doubt in the interviewer’s mind as
to whether you are dependable. If you’re going to be late,
call your contact. Apologize and let them know when you
think you’ll arrive. When you do arrive address the issue head
on and apologize again for being late. Don’t be too early though.
Arrive 5-10 minutes before your appointment time.
4. The interview starts in the lobby. Your interaction with anyone
you meet -- whether it’s the receptionist, security guard, or
hiring manager – is the start of your interview.
5. Turn off your cell phone. Better yet, leave it in the car. If you
forget and your phone rings, apologize and turn it off. Do not
answer the phone. The most important thing at this moment is
your future and your potential employer sitting in front of you.
6. Bring hard copies of your resume. Always bring enough
copies of your resume to provide one to each person you
interview with, plus a couple extra. It shows you are a prepared
7. Dress appropriately. A job interview is not the time to show
your fashion bent, particularly in the conservative world of
security cleared professionals. Grooming is important as
well. Looking your best shows the employer that you take the
interview seriously. If you’re transitioning military and used to
wearing a uniform, here is some guidance on Veterans Dressing
for Civilian Interview Success.
8. Know where you’re going and who you’re interviewing with.
What is the exact location and time of the interview? What
are the names and titles of the individuals you will interview
with? Get those in advance and Google their public LinkedIn
profiles as part of your research. The more you know about the
individuals you’ll interview with, the better you will perform in
9. Don’t bring up pay or benefits before the employer does. For
security cleared job seekers pay is often discussed much earlier
than in other industries due to contract requirements. But let
the employer bring up the subject first. Review Preparing Your
Job Search Salary Strategy.
10. Don’t speak poorly about your previous or current employer
or colleagues. Take the high road. Never speak poorly of
employers or co-workers. When discussing difficult situations
you’ve encountered choose your words carefully. Don’t finger
point, and don’t blame. You’re a team player focused on finding
solutions and problem solving. Check out Difficult Interview
Questions to prepare.
ACING YOUR INTERVIEWS
11. Ask questions. Demonstrate that you’re interested in the
position. Even if you think all the bases have been covered, you
need to ask the interviewer a couple questions that show you’ve
done your homework. It’s OK to take a list of questions with you
to reference during the interview. Unsure what to ask? Check
out Interviewing What to Ask for a comprehensive list of
12. Pay attention and be present. Think of your future, and
focus. Focus on the interviewer and listen attentively. Look
the interviewer in the eye when you speak, and when the
interviewer speaks. Smile when appropriate. Appearing
bored or disinterested is not a skill set that employers are
seeking for any position.
13. Aim for a balanced interview. A job interview is a two-way
street. Both sides need to gather information from the other to
make informed decisions. Strive for a balanced conversation.
14. Be positive. A positive attitude is critically important. In general,
companies are looking for team players with positive, can-do
attitudes. Be genuine and authentic as well.
15. Close the deal. If you want the job be sure to express that to the
hiring manager, without being too over eager.
Keep these things in mind for any interaction you have with an
employer, whether it’s an initial phone interview, a conversation at
a Cleared Job Fair, or a face-to-face interview.
Interview Follow Up
Recruiters are continually amazed at how few job seekers follow
up properly after interviewing for a position. If you and another job
seeker are equally qualified, this could be the deciding factor.
Write thank you notes. Within 24 hours you should send a thank
you note via email to everyone that you spoke to. Vary the emails a bit
to show that you were paying attention to that particular person.
A handwritten note to the most senior person in the process shows
that you value them enough to take the time to do something extra.
It can make a difference.
Good thank you notes are:
• Short and to the point, two or three paragraphs.
• Thank the person for their time, interest, and the information
• Say something new about your value that is relevant to the job.
If you forgot something in your interview this is your chance to
Reconnect with your contacts at the company. Communicate
with your references and any contacts you have at the company
to let them know you interviewed and that you are interested in
If you are no longer interested say so. If you find upon reflection
that you are not interested in the position, let the recruiter know
you’re no longer interested and why. Treat the recruiter well and they
will help you with positions of interest in the future.
How often do I follow up? Ask your recruiter for appropriate follow
up timeframes. A weekly or bi-weekly check on progress is standard.
8. SALARY AND BENEFITS NEGOTIATION
When you receive an offer you need to
make some decisions:
• Your first consideration is: Do you really want the job? Don’t waste anyone’s time
with negotiations for a position that doesn’t interest you.
• If you want the job you can accept the offer or decide it is close enough to be worth
negotiating. Many employers will do some negotiating. Explore whether a target
employer negotiates salary offers as a part of your company research.
• Some aspects of an offer cannot be changed, such as the terms of medical
insurance and retirement plans. Base pay, incentives, stock/options, vacation,
telecommuting options, and relocation expenses are often negotiated.
If you are asking to change a lot of the offer, ask yourself if this is really a good match. An
employer is going to wonder about your interest if you ask for too many changes. Some
may withdraw an offer.
In the government contracting
community salary ranges are set based
on the government contract, so often
there isn’t much leeway in making
large salary changes. Many times
this discussion of salary range with a
government contractor will happen
during the initial phone screen. This
goes contrary to what many standard
salary negotiation articles will tell you—
to wait until the offer is made.
SALARY AND BENEFITS NEGOTIATION
Making Changes to a Job Offer
Consider the 1-3 changes you want and why. Then rank them.
• The most critical change I want:
• Current offer:
• Difference between what I want and current offer:
• Supporting business reasons for this change:
• Options I would also consider:
Next think about what you will accept. Is the original offer acceptable
if the organization refuses to change it or will you walk away? If you
can only get your highest priority change made will that be enough?
Call the hiring manager and talk about what you love about the
organization and the job and what your concerns are with the offer.
Do this quickly after you receive the offer. Thank the recruiter or
hiring manager for the offer.
1. Restate your interest and the value you bring to the position.
2. Ask for the specific changes to the offer you would like to
see – two to three changes max – with the business reasons
for the changes.
3. Be quiet!
4. Be willing to offer alternatives. If you can’t get more pay
immediately can you get a 3 month review or be included in
a bonus program? Be positive about working with the hiring
manager and remind them that you will make immediate
If the offer is revised, be prepared to
accept it immediately.
9. STARTING A NEW JOB ON THE RIGHT FOOT
Steps to Success When You Start a New Cleared Job
1. Make your job board profiles inactive and update your LinkedIn profile.
This keeps your network informed and signals to your recruiter that you’re
fully committed to the new position vs. still looking for a better opportunity.
2. Dress the part. Ask your new boss or your recruiter what the office dress code
is. Just what does “casual Friday” mean? Business casual? Ask. Or if in doubt,
3. Be on time. Map out your route ahead of time. Expect traffic delays. A plan to
be on time is a plan to be late.
4. Be thankful. In the confusion and nerves of your new job remember to say thanks
to people who help you, even if it’s pointing you to the bathroom. This is the time
for you to build bridges. Politeness goes a long way.
5. Build your internal network. Say yes to lunch invitations. Meet with others in
your department and in related areas to learn more. You need to build relationships
within the organization. It will help you accomplish your goals and make you more
effective in the long run.
Congratulations on landing a new job! Be
sure to thank everyone who helped you.
Let your network know about your new
position and don’t abandon them.You
need to maintain these ties and help
them when you can.You never know when
you’re going to need your network again.
Setting the right foundation in your new
position is critical to your success. If you
haven’t switched jobs in a number of
years the change can be daunting.
STARTING A NEW JOB ON THE RIGHT FOOT
6. Embrace the moment. If you are psyched about your new job let others know about
it. Sometimes in the name of being “professional” we forget to let our enthusiasm
show. Others are drawn to enthusiasm, so if you feel it, let others know.
7. Ask questions before making pronouncements. Listen to others. Don’t
immediately try to recreate your old job in your new job, or instruct everyone on
what they have been doing wrong. You’re new. You may have been hired to revamp
the organization, but get the lay of the land first.
8. Pay attention in orientation. You’ll learn many things in orientation, including
information to help you make decisions that are critical to your financial future.
Pay attention so you make smart, informed decisions.
9. Make sure you and your boss are on the same page. Do you know what is
expected of you in the first 3 months? 6 months? How will your boss know
whether or not you are succeeding? How is success defined within your job?
When is your first performance review? If you didn’t nail these things down in the
interviewing process, do so now. Or if you did, reconfirm them.
The bottom line? Listen more than talk.You want to contribute and you will have the
opportunity to do so…after you have more in-depth knowledge.
“Many of the failures in job
performance can be traced back
to the actual start of a new job.
Start right so you can succeed.”
Patra Frame, Founder,
Strategies for Human Resources