The best way to get a job is to go out and land interviews! The best way to get interviews, is to make finding a job your job! Here are seven things you should do to make that happen!
1. Pinpoint your skills.
A solid career plan means knowing your skills. Many job seekers can’t answer the question, “Why should I hire you?” The consequences of not being able to answer that question – or being able to, are often the distinct advantage or disadvantage for you. Please identify your skills before you move on with your search.
- List your top 5 adaptive-self management skills, your top 5 transferrable skills, and your top 5 job-related skills.
2. Have a clear goal.
A solid career objective is not just fodder for your resume. I know it’s hard to figure out the exact job you want, but getting as close as possible is important. Too many people look for a job without having a good idea of exactly what they are looking for.
Define exactly what it is you really want – “the” job. The job objective is not the same as a job title. Consider other elements of what makes a job satisfying for you. Later, you can decide what that job is called and what industry it might be in.
- List the skills you want to use, the special knowledge you would like to use, what types of people you like to work for and with, the type of work environment you prefer, where you want the job to be located, how much money you hope to make, how much responsibility you are willing to accept, and the things that are important to you. Then try describing your ideal job.
3. Know where and how to look for job leads.
The “hidden job market” refers to the fact that 85% of all job openings aren’t advertised. Employers hire people they know, people who find out about the jobs through word of mouth or people who happen to be in the right place at the right time.
Networking is much more than asking people if they know of job openings. Instead, look at networking as a way to build relationships with people who know other people, who may know other people who know of jobs. Networking is also about getting advice about your search and insight into the organizations you’re trying to get into.
- Make a list of people you know – from family to former coworkers. Contact the people on your list in a systematic way. Present yourself well, ask them for leads, and then contact these referrals and do the same.
- The three magic networking questions:
- Do you know of any openings for a person with my skills? If the answer is no (which it usually is), ask the next question.
- Do you know of someone else who might know of such an opening? If your contact does, get that name and ask for another one. If he or she doesn’t, ask the next question.
- Do you know of anyone who might know of someone else who might? Another good way to ask this is, “Do you know someone who knows lots of people?” If all else fails, this will usually get you a name.
4. Invest 20 or more hours a week in your job search.
Job seekers average less than 15 hours a week looking for work. The average length of unemployment varies from three or more months, with some out of work far longer (older workers and higher earners are two groups who statistically take longer). There is a correlation between hours invested in job search and how long it will take to land. Time management is crucial. Of course, if you are currently employed, you will probably spend less time. That said, the principals are the same.
- Decide how many hours a week you will spend a week looking for work and which days and times you will look for work. Then, create a schedule and stick to it. Use a daily planner that allows plenty of space for each day’s plan on an hourly basis, plus room for daily “to-do” lists. Write in your daily schedule in advance; then add interviews as they come. Get used to carrying it and using it. Or, have it on your phone or mobile device always-ready.
5. Get at least two interviews a day.
The average job seeker averages five interviews a month – fewer than two a week. I want you to get two a day. It may sound like a lofty goal, but it’s not. Let’s frame the definition of “interview” as:
Any face-to-face contact with a person who has the authority to hire or manage someone with your skills or qualifications. That person may or may not have an opening at the time.
With this definition, it is much easier to get interview. You can now interview with all kinds of potential employers, not just those who have openings. Getting names of others to contact from those you know – networking – is quite successful if you are persistent.
6. Ace interviews.
However you get the interviews, you want to create a good impression when you get there. Dress the way you think the boss would dress – only neater. In anticipating how you will answer questions, keep in mind that questions are designed to screen you out!
Try using this three-step process in your interviews:
- Understand what is really being asked.
- Are you easy to get along with? Are you a good worker?
- Do you have the experience and training to do the job if we hire you?
- Are you likely to stay on for a reasonable period of time and be productive?
- Answer questions briefly, in a harmless way.
- Many interview questions prompt you to provide negative information. Questions like “What is your major weakness” is one many are not prepared for.
- A good response is to mention something that is not all damaging, such as “I have been told that I can be thorough to a fault, sometimes not letting go to delegate as I could.”
- But your answer is not complete until you do the last and third step:
- Answer the real concern by presenting your related skills.
- Base your answer on the key skills you identified that are needed in the job. Give examples to support your skill statements.
- In answering “trick questions” like the weakness question above, you can add that “I have been working on my perfectionist tendencies for some time, and have learned to be more willing to let my staff do things, making sure they have good training and support. I’ve found their performance improves, and I’m free to do other things.”
7. Follow up on all contacts.
Folks who follow up with potential employers and with others in their network get jobs faster than those who do not.
- Send a thank-you note to every person who helps you in your job search.
- Send the thank-you note within 24 hours of speaking with that person.
- Develop a system to keep following up with good contacts.
In a nutshell, approach your job search as if it were a job itself. Get organized and spend at least 20 hours a week actively looking. Know your skills and have a clear goal. Get lots of interviews, including exploratory interviews through networking. Have a good answer to the question, “Why should I hire you?” Follow up on all the leads you generate, and send out lots of thank-you notes.
Pay attention to the details; then be yourself in the interview. Employers are people. They will hire someone who they feel will do the job well, be reliable, and fit easily into the work environment. When you want the job, tell the employer that you want the job and why. Believe in yourself. And ask people to help you!
I’d love to hear your comments about shortcuts to the job search. Please comment below!