I don’t like what I do. I don’t like the people I work with. I don’t get paid nearly enough for what I do. I need to live somewhere else. I don’t like my schedule. I need a new boss. I just want something different. Whatever the reason, people are always looking for a new job. While the positions may be out there, there are a few things you can do to increase your chances of landing that ‘something new’.
The application process has become so automated for many employers that it can feel like a very distant, detached process for many applicants. Regardless of how it makes you feel, you need to capitalize on a few opportunities that you do have. The little details may mean the difference of getting the job, getting a second interview, or even getting in the door.
Here are a few job-search tips for you:
Find the right one – Don’t apply for a job just because it is open. Make sure you are at least somewhat qualified for the job and that it is a job you are actually interested in. Yes, you may be interested in moving up quickly, but you have to do the first job well before you earn the promotion. That will be considerably more difficult to do if you don’t like your job. While there is no perfect job out there, invest some time in finding the best ones for you.
Do your homework – Once you find the position you want to apply for, don’t just rip something out and send it in. Research the company and the position. Find out what their priorities are. What are they looking for in an employee. You can learn a lot by reading their company website and the job listing they have put out there. Remember, jobs aren’t just about collecting a paycheck, but also about what you can provide for the company. In order to communicate this, you need to understand what they want and like.
Custom fit your application – Now that you know better what they are looking for, tailor your application to the specific job opening. This may be a bit of a fine line between tailoring and stretching the truth (or out-and-out lying). Make sure you are honest about yourself, but use works that they understand. Which leads us to….
Speak their English – According to Wikipedia, in 2010 359 million people spoke English as their first language. But that doesn’t mean we can all understand each other. There are different accents and colloquialisms. And then try being an average person talking to a tech support person. We all speak English, but it can be very different English. Make sure you are speaking the same English as the company you are applying with. Use terms they use.
Practice – Some companies are known for coming up with a doozy of a question. I had an interview once that involved an hour of time developing training for an industry I knew little about. But you often know the kinds of questions they are going to ask. And often they aren’t just interested in the content of your answer, but how you thought through it and handled the stress. Practice ahead of time. Have someone ask you questions that might come up. Talk through answers by yourself while you are driving in the car. Questions are much easier to answer when you’ve already answered them before.
Know when the interview starts – So now you’ve gotten your foot in the door. While you have a scheduled time to be there, the interview process can begin much earlier than that. How easy has it been for them to even schedule the appointment? Were you early but not annoyingly early? How did you treat the one person that often keeps an office in order – the reception person? They will note if you are still tying your tie while you sit in the waiting room. Wait…. Did you bring a tie? Should you have?
The unspoken – If employers were only interested in your words, they could do interviews over the phone or by email. But there is a lot more for them to consider. A bank manager I know had a teller position open. 5 of the 6 interviewees showed up in yoga pants. Guess which one got the job. Are you dressed appropriately? How’s your breath? Do you look rushed and unsettled? Can you give them a firm handshake without crushing their hand? Do you look them in the eye without doing it so much that you become ‘that creepy person’? Even cussing can carry a great deal of weight. Different research has found that people who swear regularly are perceived as less intelligent, less agreeable, and are promoted less.
Hide the evidence – Social media has been a job killer for more than a few people. You may have had a great time that one weekend, but the photos on your social media may paint a strong image of who you really are. I’m sure you’ve seen the posts of foul language, photos with a large collection of empty alcohol bottles or everyone’s tongues sticking out (seriously, what’s with the tongue thing?), or perhaps a rant about a current or previous employer. All of these are you making an impact on your potential employer without having the chance to explain or defend yourself. It can be like having your worst frenemy giving a reference for you. Not good.
Follow up – After your interview, follow up with a hand-written thank you note. Even if you think you’ve bombed it, you may have actually really impressed them (been there, done that). A simple, honest thank you note may help you stand out in their consideration of applicants. It shows you appreciated the opportunity, communicate well, and are willing to go the extra step. Just make sure you get their name right.
So you don’t get the job – How are you going to react? Are you going to get angry? Start in with the cussing? Tell them what an idiot they are for not hiring you? Remember, this is part of their perception of you. While you may not have gotten this specific position, I’ve known several people who have been turned down for one position only to be offered another position almost immediately. Your response to the first position becomes your interview for the second.
There is so much more that I could talk about. For instance, just Google ‘funny resume examples’ and you’ll be entertained for hours (unless yours pops up on the screen). I know, it’s a lot to think about and work on. But the consequences, good or bad, make it worth the effort. This one entry level job may be the first crucial step in your dream career. In fact, look at every job as a step in your career. It may be a step up OR a step down.
The Center for Financial Resources offers a class titled “Finding and Keeping the Job You Want”. If you or an organization you are connected with would like more information, you can find out more about our classes on our website or by contacting us directly at 605-330-2700.
written by Breck Miller
images courtesy freedigitalphotos.net