Despite the similarities, we don’t usually approach job applications as a form of performance art. In fact, winning any kind of role – vocational or theatrical depends in large part (pun intended) on honing a set of wow worthy auditioning skills.
Auditioning successfully requires confidence, self-belief and heaps of razor sharp research and rehearsal. Whether your next potential role is in Shakespeare or Sales and Marketing, this advice to actors may be enlightening.
Having set the stage so to speak, let’s look at ways to deliver peak performance in two of job seeking’s most stressful ‘acts’. These tips are focused on helping you ‘look and act the part’.
War games - surviving the resume route
To begin with, let’s look at skills for print presentation. How can you up your resume’s chances of surviving the first brutal cull?
First up let’s assume you’ve done your background research and compiled all your heavily quantified experience to match the job description. This means your resume:
has a strong storyline laced with loads of transferable, adaptive and job specific skills and lots of relevant and specific experience
is packing sufficient ‘key word’ power to pass any initial ‘bot scan’
Now it has six seconds to impress a hiring human or find itself face down in the reject pile.
Picture this – layout matters
The Internet has changed the way we read. Odds on most recruiting brains are wired to respond to images, colour and columns as they peruse piles of resumes.
In short, your resume could struggle in the six-second stakes if it’s a solely black and while, linear, left to right read document of more than three pages.
That said; format your resume to fit your target industry. For example, resumes for designers and graphic artists are likely to be more visually spectacular than resumes for business administrators and accountants.
Costume dramas – working out what to wear
There are oodles of online sites telling you how to dress for interview success by‘looking professional’. Working out what this means for you and for a particular role with a specific employer can be tricky. Certainly, you need to look ’right ‘ for the job but you also need to look like a confident, comfortable version of you.
Here’s what I suggest:
Crack the code - dress for combat.
Make sure your forensic trawl of any target company’s social media includes the dress code. Naturally, this will vary wildly across industries and mildly across your potential new colleagues.
Once you’ve sussed your prospective employers ‘look and feel’, think of your interview clothes as the best kind of battle dress. This means they need to be:
- Protective – you feel safe and comfortable in your skin
- Practical – they fit you well and allow you to move freely
- Powerful – you feel capable, confident, a tiny bit awe inspiring
Last but not least, like all combat dress, your interview clothes should look professional. They tell the panel that you belong and that you’re fully kitted out and ready to get to work.
Run your interview costume though through its battle dress paces. If you’re still not totally sure I suggest you ’err on the side of smart’.
Premiere performance - acting the part
At the interview, adopt a nerve shattering ‘fake it til you make it’ front. ‘Acting the part’ can quell your performance anxiety and buy you breathing time while you ease yourself into the star role of perfect candidate for the job.
Take heart from knowing your resume has aced Act 1 - the ruthless cull. Its beautifully presented, cleverly connected content has put you centre stage in Act 2 – the winning interview.
Conveying confidence you genuinely merit but may not feel takes discipline, and practice, and begins with your body. Before the interview, try striking a power pose, slowing your breathing, and relaxing your shoulders. In the room, make eye contact, smile, and still any fidgety limbs.
Get your physical self ‘onside’. This sets the mental and emotional stage for your competent, clever professional self to deliver a star performance.
There is nothing facile or dishonest about perfecting the art of faking it til you make it. Besides being an indispensable interview skill, it’s invaluable anytime you need to look as good as you actually are.
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About the author
To help women find a workplace that will work for them, we prescreen employers on flexible working, pay equity, paid parental leave, and more. Find your next role on the WORK180 job board.