Another week and the job search continues.
Having submitted over 300 applications and resumes, both virtually and in person, I would now consider myself somewhat of an expert at job hunting. Clearly, as I’m not having a great deal of luck at the present moment, I would not say I am an expert at job GETTING just yet. However, there are definitely some things I’ve learned during my almost 2 decades in the workforce that I wish someone had shared with me earlier. As someone who has struggled during interviews in the past, I’m proud to say I’ve really strengthened that weakness. Here is my list of things to remember, for anyone who may find themselves searching for a new career.
The most important advice that will benefit you far greater than anything else in this article is: it’s not about WHAT you know, it’s about WHO you know. Networking is absolutely the secret to success in this world. Nepotism, while frowned upon, is absolutely real and your chances of being hired by someone who knows you, or having a reference from someone who knows someone are far greater than just being a faceless name in a pile of resumes. Of all the jobs I’ve applied for over the last few months, the only ones that have resulted in interviews have been a personal reference from a friend or former client. Attend professional networking events and reach out to well-connected people just to put the word out that you’re seeking employment. If you don’t already have a business card, create a generic one with your basic contact info and even a professional headshot and carry it with you at all times. Whenever you meet new people, make it a habit to pass it along. You never know how they might play a part in your life down the road. And treat every single social interaction as a job opportunity. One of my favorite things to do is sit by myself at a bar during happy hour and make casual conversation with other people around me. I’ve made several great business connections this way. (Just don’t get hammered and show your tail.) I’ve even started using dating apps to my advantage. I swipe on men who I might not even be interested in physically, but work in a career field I’m trying to explore. I go on the date, and even if they’re a dud, it’s great interview practice. I mean, aren’t all first dates just basically an interview anyway?
When creating your resume and cover letter, first and most important, get help from someone else. Even if you think you’re a pro, what would it hurt to get feedback from a friend who regularly hires people? Ask someone who works in HR, an old college advisor or even a relative or friend in a professional role to take a look at it. If you’re totally lost on how to even begin, you can google sample resumes and cover letters and get thousands of images to tailor to your own needs. For the most part, it’s always a good idea to keep both to 1 page. Only include the most relevant information, and make sure the first paragraph of your cover letter makes an impact. Let’s face it, most people have the attention span of a toddler on Mountain Dew, and if they’re weeding through dozens of applications it’s even worse. You can create 1 generic cover letter, but be sure to tweak it for each job so it has a custom feel. And people don’t care about opinions, they want facts. So when bragging on your achievements, make sure to include measurable data. For example, instead of saying, “in my current role as a sales rep I have been a great asset to our company and gotten great feedback from my accounts,” you should say, “I have become an unparalleled asset to my current company by increasing sales 22% in my first year. I brought on 13 new businesses as clients in the first quarter who trust me as their go-to expert in this field.”
If you’re called in for an interview, do your homework prior to showing up. Do as much research as you can on the company and sprinkle in little tidbits during your conversation that reflects as much. You can mention the CEOs name, where they got their start or their locations. Also, practice some answers to common interview questions. I have standard answers I use for the questions that ALWAYS get asked- “Tell me a little about yourself,” and “tell me one time you’ve succeeded/failed/been challenged.” Make those answers relevant to the job requirements but make them personal to you. You want to stand out from the competition. They will always ask you if you have any questions, so be prepared with some when you walk in, as well as make a few mental notes during the interview that you can loop back in with a question. It will prove you were paying attention. And before you leave, ALWAYS ask for the job. I don’t mean beg them to hire you. But reiterate why you’re the right fit based on their qualifications, confidently state that you’re excited for the opportunity to work for the company and ask what the next step is for their hiring process.
The process of searching for jobs can be exhausting. Maintain a positive attitude, know your worth, do your homework and be confident. If you psych yourself out before interviews like I tend to do, it’s essential you are extra prepared. Remind yourself, it’s just a chat and this is as beneficial for you as it is for them. You’re there to make sure this would be a mutually beneficial partnership. Have the attitude that you know you’re an asset and they would be lucky to have you as an employee. Be gracious but confident, master a strong handshake, look people in the eye and dress to impress without going overboard. With enough practice, you might even start to enjoy the hunt of the job.