Help me start out in a job interview
September 19, 2008 12:22 PM   Subscribe

How can I make myself stand out in applying for a webmaster job? The competition is going to be fierce, and I may be up against people who are more experienced. I really want the job, though, and honestly feel that I can do it the best.

The job is an overall web vision/design/master gig.

I have the skills and vision needed for the job, and have the usual resume experience to back it up. However, I suspect that they will be receiving a lot of qualified candidates, and I'd like to do whatever I can to stand out.

I have personal contacts in the organization, have volunteered and worked contract for them before, and have years of personal time spent in their field.

They are asking for the usual resume/cover letter/work sample.
posted by mjewkes to Work & Money (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Ask your contacts to recommend you. I've always strongly considered people who my peers recommended. If they want to work with you, that tells me far more than your resume or work sample.
posted by 26.2 at 12:47 PM on September 19, 2008

Write a really good cover letter. You need to highlight, in a "show-me-don't-tell-me" sort of way, the reasons you'll be the best person for the job. Having recently filled several technical positions, I can guarantee that after a while all the resumes start looking the same, and tragically so do most of the cover letters.

The ones that stand out have a much better chance of ending up in the "contact this person" pile.

The cover letter is your opportunity to discuss specific projects you've worked on or to emphasize aspects of your resume that you think are important. It's also a chance to demonstrate your personality and language fluency (which is going to be a critical skill for most senior-level positions).
posted by larsks at 12:50 PM on September 19, 2008

Don't forget to consider things like how you'll make your colleagues' working lives easier, make more effective use of the web to get the organisation's message across, how you have a deep understanding of that message, etc.; it's easy to just list skills & technologies and lose sight of important broader issues.

If they're based nearby, deliver the application in person and be really nice to the receptionist, say hi to anyone you know that you run into, etc. Nothing too obvious or heavy-handed, just enough to help people remember you and maybe trigger someone mentioning that you're friendly and polite.
posted by malevolent at 1:02 PM on September 19, 2008

Is this mainly a design job, or development? I'm not sure how much a difference this would make (heck, I don't even know if it's possible to excel in one or the other but not both), but being expert in both fields gives you a competitive edge. I've gotten comments from my supervisors (I hold two part-time jobs right now) that I'm a rare breed - being both artistic and technical. This "best-of-both-worlds" trait immediately puts you in the "hmm, interesting..." list. Then back up your expertise with the usual self-marketing: specific projects on your cover letter, outstanding personal traits (organized? detail-oriented?), language fluency (and not just technical languages; foreign languages is a good thing to have, though not so useful unless the job requires appealing to international audiences or similar), all that jazz. It's especially nice to have specific projects listed that you did outside of your previous employments/college work, if any. Maybe some website/web app you did in your spare time that receives or should receive a fair amount of attention.
posted by curagea at 1:22 PM on September 19, 2008

For a webmaster, sites the reviewer can look at and see that they're yours are essential. Anyone can put in links to some site and say they designed and implemented it, but a site that's yours, specifically, and shows off what you can do, is what anyone with a clue who's going through webmaster resumes will look for. When I evaluate people for web positions, that's the first thing I look at, and my first interviews are with the people who understand that, and have something convincing I can look at.

And I do look around their site, if it's their own (e.g. if the URL is, I will look around, so keep that in mind. Religious rants, poetry to body parts, and general craziness will rule candidates out for me.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 1:44 PM on September 19, 2008

Focus your efforts on the cover letter. (Also, I hope you know this, but if you're emailing this to them, then the body of the email is the cover letter. Do not attach something like coverletter.doc)

Remind whoever is reading it that you've worked with the company before, you understand how they operate, you really get along with the people you've met, etc.

And if you can, it never hurts to have someone on the inside put in a good word. Some companies even offer bonuses to employees who refer new hires.
posted by meta_eli at 1:52 PM on September 19, 2008

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