Updated: Jul 14, 2020
How can you get the dream job you've always wanted as an English learner? We have 20 terrific tips to increase your confidence in your ability to communicate your expertise. All so you can land the job of your dreams.
Imagine this scenario: You've finally found the dream job you've always wanted. You've got all the skills and experience the company needs.
Now how do you show you're the perfect fit for the job?
1. Create a striking resume
You need an incredible resume and cover letter that matches. You may know a resume as a CV. However, in the U.S., a resume and CV are two different things.
A CV in the U.S. is mainly for academic professionals who have a lot of experience teaching and writing scholarly papers. A CV lists their teaching experience and professional achievements, including the names and dates of scholarly papers that have been published in journals and presented at conferences. A CV can be several pages long.
A resume, however, is what all other professionals use in the U.S. to showcase their skills, experience, and education. And it's just one or two pages.
Your first step is to create or freshen up your resume. These days there are many options for the design and layout of resumes.
Depending on the job sector you're in, you can vary from a creative to a simple design, and a vibrant to striking black and white color scheme. Imagine, what resume fits your personality and shows to your future boss who you are?
You can build your resume using a standard template at My Perfect Resume, which offers a free 14-day trial.
There are a few dos and don'ts for creating a strong resume.
✔ Do provide your contact info. At the top of the resume, include your name, your email address, and your telephone number.
✘ Don't share your photo in your resume. In the U.S., we have laws that prevent companies from having an idea of what an applicant looks like. This is so they are not swayed as to the applicant's appearance, whether by gender, race, or ethnicity.
✔ Do share your skills and experience. Using language, including keywords and phrases, that the job description or posting that you found uses. This way the people who read your resume can quickly scan to see that you match the skills and experience they're looking for in that position.
✘ Don't share your personal information, such as your age, your marital status, gender, sexual orientation, birthplace, or any information about your family, including your children. Like we described earlier, the U.S. has laws against companies being able to discriminate against applicants and employees based on personal details about a person.
✔ Do add a short professional summary that shares your expert abilities in a few sentences. There are several different ways you can write this summary, but it's mostly a short description of what you have done that makes you the ideal candidate. Need help? Check out Zety to see a variety of different summaries that you can use for your resume.
✔ Do keep your resume to one to two pages. According to experts, Human Resources and department managers typically scan resumes for only six seconds. That's all. So you want to have a resume that catches the recruiter's attention and keeps them on your resume long enough to put you in the "contact for an appointment" pile.
2. Provide a bold cover letter
So you have your resume ready. But that's not all you need. In the U.S., it's expected that you will also provide a cover letter.
A cover letter is a one-page description of why you are qualified for the job. It's different than the resume because you write in full sentences explaining your qualifications. You can build a cover letter using My Perfect Cover Letter.
Let's look at some dos and don'ts for writing a cover letter.
✔ Do address to the department manager who is looking to hire you. It's a good idea to look up who the department manager or director is that you would be working for. If your resume and cover letter are what the recruiter is looking for, they will be passing them to your potential manager or director.
You can often find the name of your potential boss by searching on the company website for a list of staff, or search on LinkedIn for the company and the department name or position you're applying for.
✘ Don't write short sentences without any quality descriptions. The most boring cover letters are short and don't have anything specific to add. They say something like, "I'm qualified for this position" without explaining why they're qualified. The hiring manager doesn't want to do all the work. If they only have six seconds to look at your resume and cover letter, make it count.
✔ Do write at least two paragraphs describing your achievements. Your first paragraph is your introduction where you present who you are and what your background is, and briefly explain that you are an excellent fit for the job.
The second and third paragraphs should detail your accomplishment using quantifiable terms. What does that mean?
You should describe exactly what are your top achievements in your career that are related to your job. For instance, if you are a marketing professional, write about you have won $10 million dollars in business proposals over two years at Company X.
If you are a teacher, write about how you have taught more than 100 students over the past five years and helped them pass 100 exams or increased their scores two letter grades at School Y. If you are an IT professional, explain how you have managed more than 200 computer systems on the network and kept the network operating without fail for more than two years at Company Z.
You know what your achievements are. So explain what they are clearly and succinctly using quantifiable terms. Numbers and achievements are the types of words and phrases that will catch the hiring manager's attention.
✔ Do be bold in closing your letter. Writing that you look forward to talking with the manager or director shows that you are already imagining yourself in the interview with your potential boss. And isn't that the confidence you want not only to show but feel? So feel free to express that confidence.
Ok, now you've received the invitation for an interview. These days interviews may be conducted via video chat instead of in person. No matter if you have a video or in-person interview, there are certain steps you can take to ensure you feel confident in your ability and communicate your expertise well.
3. Prepare for your interview
Being prepared for a job interview means feeling confident about your skills, feeling confident about what you can bring to the job and the company, and feeling confident to ask questions about if you're the right fit.
Here are a few dos and don'ts for job interviews.
✔ Do review the company website. Familiarize yourself with the mission statement, the company's history, and what projects the company is working on now and has worked on in the past. Read news articles and press releases about what the company has achieved.
✘ Don't go to the interview without questions. By the end of the interview, the interviewer will almost have always asked you if you have any questions. Prepare a list of questions you would like to discuss. These questions can be simple, wondering about what a typical day in the position would look like. You want to express your interest in the position and the company. Need some ideas of questions to ask? Check out this list of 51 questions.
✔ Do familiarize yourself with the company language. Each company and every job sector has its own language. This is language that we don't typically use in our personal or social loves but only n our professional ones.
For instance, the non-profit world talks about stakeholders, prospects and donors. The IT world has its own terminology for software training, hardware and software purchasing, and network management.
As described above, reviewing the company website and news articles, as well as articles about your job sector or industry, will help you keep up with the ever-evolving vocabulary that it uses.
✔ Do promote your bilingual skills. Your ability to speak in your native language and English is definitely a valuable asset to your potential boss, the team, and the company.
Consider this. Every additional customer or client you can speak with in their language not only improves that person's experience with the company's product or service but also brings in revenue to your potential employer.
While every job sector needs bilingual employees, according to experts, there are eight that are consistently searching for candidates that speak at least two languages: healthcare, law enforcement, education, hospitality, social services, finance, communication, and customer service.
If you already work in one of these fields and are bilingual, you are a valuable asset. Confidently explain how your bilingual skills are useful in your job today and will continue to be in the future.
✔ Do ask about the company culture. Like every country, every company tends to have its own culture. A general contractor has a different culture than a non-profit. A healthcare organization has a different culture than an IT company. Does the company allow its employees to work from home? Will you be expected to work overtime? If you work in the office, will you have your own office or will you work in an open layout without privacy? Does the company offer any fun benefits, like gym memberships or social events?
✘ Don't wear anything inappropriate for the interview. Part of the company culture, learning what type of clothes to wear is important. Talk to someone who works at the company and ask them what type of clothes you should wear.
For instance, IT companies tend to allow their employees to dress casually, meaning jeans. Hospital administrative staff, lawyers, and those who work in the corporate field are usually expected to wear business suits. Non-profits typically allow for business casual attire. Learn more about what to wear to a job interview.
✔ Do get help preparing. Talk to a friend or coworker who has experience with job interviews in your field. Role-play what questions the interviewer may ask you and what responses you will give. Practice asking your own questions and what responses the interviewer may give you in return. Practice speaking and listening until you feel confident and ready for your interview.
4. Access professional resources to help you prepare
Want to learn more about how you can get the dream job feeling confident about your abilities to communicate in English?
We can help!
We're offering a series of Business English workshops dedicated to improving your Business English and learning more about American business culture.
We will guide you through writing resumes and cover letters, preparing for your interview by practicing the correct vocabulary and phrases you needed to know, and feeling ready to negotiate your salary.
Take a look at the workshop schedule to see what topics you want to learn about.