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Archive for July 20, 2010

Help yourself!

Having been on both sides of the hiring game, one where you’re looking for a job and the other one where your job is to hire people; I can tell you that the perspectives are drastically different.  Even now after some years of being involved in recruiting in a variety of ways, I am continually surprised by the lack of knowledge on the DO’s and DON’Ts that pertain to finding a job.  While some things have changed over time, others should be a matter of common sense.

While no one can for sure tell you how to get the job of your dreams this article will hopefully help you be better prepared and avoid some common mistakes.

Mental Game

  1. Do plenty of research about the company and the job you will be applying for.  With the unemployment being so high many people are just applying for anything available without knowing the first thing about the job.  Having done your research will help you tailor your resume better and make you more confident in your interview.
  2. Don’t pigeonhole yourself by being determined to only get a job in the “X” field because that was your last job or that’s what you went to school for.  There plenty of people that ended up being happy and successful in jobs they never imagined when they were younger.
  3. Do your best to have a few different options that you are working on at the same time.  Having only one option available can cause you to stress and worry too much and set you back psychologically if you don’t get it.  Not being too attached to any one option will help you come off more confident and not come off as needy or desperate.
  4. Get yourself motivated.  If you’re feeling like crap and have no self-esteem right now find a way to get out of the slump.  I know it’s easier said than done but do whatever you need to do to get yourself in a positive state of mind.  While real life doesn’t work like “The Secret” and good things won’t happen to you no matter what you project out there while you’re sitting on your ass.  However being in a positive state of mind and having self-confidence will project in your mannerisms and behavior that other people will pick up on.

Game Time

  1. Resume. First realize that people hiring sometimes have go through hundreds of resume submissions and at best you have only a few seconds of attention.  DON’T send generic resumes or even worse resume where the “objective” has nothing to do with the job; you will get discarded and possibly pre-screened as a no in future.  One cleanly laid out page of relevant information customized for your industry will do just fine in most cases.  Secondly many of companies these days will store your resume in a database so be sure to optimize it for keywords and file type.  There are many good articles on the web on how to do just that. 
  2.  Web Presence. Vast majority of companies prescreen applicants using social networking sites.  Like it or not you will need to tidy up that web presence of yours.
    •  Start by searching your name using Google to see what you’re dealing with.
    •  If you currently have any personal networking accounts such as Facebook set them on the highest privacy settings available so no one can find you.
    •  Create an email address for yourself that looks something like this “john.smith@gmail.com or j.smith@ or simth.j@”  because if you submit a resume and your email is something like “drama_queen@xxxxxx.com” or “420_dude@xxxxxx.com” they will rethink before calling you for an interview.
    •  Using that email, create new Facebook and Linkedin profiles.  Set them on private but make sure that the information you would want a prospective employer to see is visible.  Put a good professional photo of yourself on there.  Make sure you can be easily found from a search engine.  Use this to your advantage.  This can help you greatly if executed properly
  3.  Appearance. You really only do have once chance to make a first impression and in case of getting a job that is the only impression that matters. 
    •  The choice attire should always be a business suit for both men and women when it comes to a job interview.  At the very least it should be business professional.
    •  Make sure your attire is clean and pressed and it fits you probably. 
    •  Details like shoes, watch, jewelry are all important as well. 
    •  Hygiene is paramount here so you should be clean cut and shaven and if you’re a girl your hair and makeup should be elegant and compliment your face not distract from it.
    •  Don’t soak yourself in perfume or cologne.
    •  You need to get across that you are a high value person who is well put together. 
  4.  Interview. Be prepared.  There are plenty of resources online so read up on what some of the more commonly asked questions are.  In case you get a curve ball, just relax, maintain composure and answer as best as you can.  Finally most interviewers will ask if you have any questions.  If you don’t know what to ask just asking “Do you mind telling me how do you like working for xxxx?” This will help you stand out and project a good image.
  5. Post Interview. You should send the person interviewing a quick Thank You card. Just simply thanking them for their time is sufficient enough.  It helps them remember you and associate more positive attributes with you.  It’s also the easiest way as in most cases you can just send it to the address you were just in with “Attention: [Name of the person who interviewed you]”.  A quick thank you email will also work if you have their email.  Do not call or email more than once as this could work against you.

Last and not least, keep going.  All you can do is keep tweaking and improving until you get the result you expect. After all it’s all a numbers game after a while.

Lets look at a following hypothetical example. Assuming the fact you’ve done your best and that there are 10 other applicants equally qualified as you, would put your odds at about 10% if left completely to chance.  Now the fact that you asked the right questions, had the right look and stayed relevant by reminded them with a card or an email should change those odds.  For the sake of this point let assume the worst case scenario and say they don’t change at all and its completely up to chance.  10% might not seem that good when you’re only looking at one opportunity.  However let’s say that you kept going, then it would only take another 6 opportunities and the odds of you not getting a job would now be less the odds of you getting a job.

Bottom line is that while your chances of succeeding might be slim in some cases, they get better more often you attempt them and they are always an infinite order of magnitude better than your chances if you don’t try at all.

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