Finding the right job isn’t easy. Securing that job is even more difficult. It takes the right balance of skill, hustle, and just a bit of luck, to get that dream job for which you’ve been working so hard. Therefore, I’ve highlighted 10 tips to help ensure your job hunt and interview(s) are effective as possible.
- Create a great resume
For most HR professionals or Hiring Managers, their first impression of you is your resume. Like all first impressions, your resume should have a positive, lasting impact. To create such an impact, ensure the following:
- List jobs and education in reverse chronological order, and prioritize the roles and responsibilities listed within each engagement, and include any notable accomplishments
- Highlight relevant skills, and tweak them according to the jobs for which you are applying
- Proofread your resume for any mistakes! The fastest way to end up in the rejected pile is with a typo.
- Skip the description of the company (companies can Google your employer if they are not familiar with what your employer does). A resume is about what you have done, not what the company you worked for does.
- Be found
Having an online brand identity is a key way for employers to identify who you are and what you can do. For example, if you’re a professional in the creative industries, you can create an online portfolio highlighting your work. Professionals in other industries can do the same, creating one-page bios online, in addition to having traditional social media profiles such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram. After having your online profiles set up, publish content that is both relevant to and resonant with your intended audience, and appropriate, should prospective employers do a bit of digging around while conversing with you about a potential opportunity.
Also, by creating a resume emphasizing your skill set, you will stand apart from other candidates on the large job sites like, Indeed, Monster, and CareerBuilder. It’s like Search Engine Optimization, but with your resume. These sites employ key word searches, and you need to rise to the top.
- Use recruiters
Recruiters are the direct link between you and the hiring manager at an organization. Find and develop a relationship with recruiters who specialize in your industry and geographic market. Take the time to tell them what you’re looking for, and consistently follow up with them to know where you stand in the job hunt. Your efforts will not go unnoticed, and will usually lead to a positive outcome.
Aside from recruiters, take a proactive approach to getting in touch with other key members of the companies and/or industries in which you seek to work. They may not give you a job directly, but what you’re looking for here is insight. Influential members of an organization can help you clearly understand and develop the right professional profile – one that will stand out amongst HR staff, and get you in the room for a discussion.
- Do your homework
Knowing what you want to do or where you want to work is not enough. You have to know the micro- and macro-environmental factors affecting the industry within which you seek to work, and the companies that operate within them. By staying abreast of industry trends and company news, you prove to potential employers that you’re not just looking to be a part of the team, but that you’re knowledgeable about the current state-of-affairs, and ready to contribute.
Once you’ve got your foot in the door and set up a time for an interview, prep yourself. Take the time to go over the job description and specifications, sit yourself down in front of a mirror, or a peer, and practice communicating in a back-and-forth, as if you were speaking to the interviewer directly. While it may seem odd, having an understanding and confidence in how you present yourself, can put yourself in a powerful position in front of a company’s hiring staff.
Furthermore, once you know with whom you are interviewing, look them up on LinkedIn. Maybe you share some common connections, or have similar work history, or went to the same school. Not only will this allow for you to connect with the interviewer, it will demonstrate your interest about the position and the company as well.
- Capitalize on your strengths
One of the questions that you’re sure to be asked during your interview will surround your strengths and weaknesses. While we all have our pros and cons, keep a mental list of two to three of each. When asked about either your strengths or weaknesses, always connect your explanation to how your strengths can benefit the company or, how you’re working on transforming your weaknesses to add more value to yourself, once again, benefitting the company in some way or the other.
- Tell a story
While practicing for your interview, keep a few examples ready on how you’ve accomplished certain feats in your prior engagements. Connect these examples to specific queries by the interviewer and in doing so, you will be able to develop a story around your professional profile rather than just a simple Q&A interaction. While a traditional back-and-forth conversation may give a lot of information, all that information may not be remembered. A story, on the other hand, resonates, and keeps you in an interviewer’s mind going forward.
- Have the right attitude
More than just having the right skills and experience for a specific job, having the right attitude ensures you to be a cultural fit for a company. Emotional intelligence dictates how you can handle various situations, and the higher you score here, the more likely the interviewer is to see you as an individual who can create positive, tangible change in the organization. I have seen more candidates get the job with a great attitude, despite missing the mark on experience, than I have candidates with all the right skills yet lacking a great attitude.
- Follow up
After the interview is complete, ensure you send a thank you note to the interviewer (or recruiter), as a final impression. Later, follow up with the interviewer to know your position in the recruiting process. If it’s positive, great! If not, take feedback on what went wrong, learn from it, and improve accordingly. Taking this initiative shows employers you care about yourself and your goals, and keeps you in a positive light within the organization – a key success factor in securing work in that company, or anywhere else, moving forward.
The task of marketing yourself as the premier candidate for a specific position is a timely process. It is rigorous, but by following the steps highlighted above, and with the right drive, you can stand out as a top candidate at any interview in which you partake. The opportunities are endless, if you know how to look.
Director – Sales