Contributed by Jesse M
Today’s job market is difficult. Not only are employers facing new challenges to hire, retain, and please employees to enforce that loyalty, but candidates are facing new challenges during the hiring process as well. Candidates are forced to find new ways to impress employers. From printing your resume onto napkins to sending baskets full of treats, people are finding new ways to be seen by as many employers as possible. But is it working? Are these creative techniques really showing the employer that you are the candidate they need? If not, what can you do to be that candidate the employer wants?
The market is filled with candidates looking for good jobs. Employers are spending more time and money going through resumes. What about you and your experience would make an employer take you over other candidates? Think about that. If you were in their shoes, would you choose you? Are you truly going to be the candidate that brings their company more success? Do you believe that no other candidate brings more to the table than you? Of course you do! You’re #1! You are their greatest hope to all their business needs. So, they NEED you! But, they don’t know they need YOU. They just think they need a worker. So, how do you convince them to hire you?
First of all, having experience is the key to your success. It’s essential to show them that you know what you’re talking about. It doesn’t matter if you are the holder of a brand new Bachelor’s degree or just graduated from trade school. That piece of paper is important, but not as important as good, solid work experience. Getting a lower end job in the field that you desire will be an important step. What’s more important is how long you spend there. We have come to a point in time where people don’t stick around at jobs for more than a year. It’s sad to say that as I review resumes, it’s common to see a 6 month tenure and almost a band of honor to see 1 year of tenure. That type of behavior is not only depressing, but leads to probably the most important tip I can give you. Stay put!
I get it, you want to make big bucks. You want to be happy where you work. You want to make big bucks and be happy where you work. Chances are though, that 1st job, probably won’t be that. If it is, fantastic! For most of us though, it won’t be. Regardless, seeing that you worked 1 year or more at every job you’ve held, makes me feel more comfortable in giving you a chance. I know you aren’t going to jump ship days after I’ve spent so much money getting you in to work. The beauty of being somewhere longer than 6 months? You not only show me that you are going to stay here, but the employer that you are leaving will potentially have good things to say about you! Burning bridges is NEVER a good idea. Every position you hold should be considered a stepping stone to where you want to be and you need as much positive feedback as possible.
Now that you’ve gained your experience, you need a way to get your foot in the door. That comes to the resume. Slapping some words on a piece of paper and handing it in is going to get you nowhere. Spend a little time making it look good. There are several resources here to help you. Unemployment offices, libraries, the internet, etc. Use everything you can to help you. Although, templates from the internet make your resume look good, try not to go over the top. Keep it simple, but keep it clean. Lay down a format: Education, Work history, Skillsets, Community Involvement, and References. Make it flow smoothly and keep the most important information near the top. Each employer is a little different, but most likely, you’ll really want to make that work history shine. If you can get 10 years of work history in there, you are on a great track. If you are that amazing candidate that spent 10 years in 2 different jobs, put 3 jobs down. How you design your resume can show the employer who you are and how much you care about details. Once again, slapping words on paper and handing it in tells me that you really don’t care.
Cool! They liked your resume and they’ve called you in for an interview! That’s great news. But, now you’re freaking out. First of all, take a deep breath. Being strung out is going to look bad, and you are in a great position. But, in the same sense, don’t be so relaxed that you feel as though you can just slouch in their chair. If you haven’t heard, “Dress for the job you want” or “Dress 1 level above the job you are interviewing for” then you haven’t been interviewing long. Those dress rules are pretty accurate though. If you are interviewing for a factory job, wear at least nice jeans and a polo. If you are interviewing for a clerical job, wear a button up and a tie. If this is an executive style job, wear a suit. Ladies, maybe opt for dress pants, a button down blouse with a tailored blazer or cardigan (Ladies - for more ideas on the basics of dressing for success, click here). Don’t look like a slob. You’ve gotten through probably the hardest part of the hire process, and that’s getting through the door. Don’t ruin it by showing you don’t care.
Come prepared! Maybe you submitted your resume to as many employers as you could and just got called by a company that you’ve never even heard of. Well, you need to do some homework. Get on their website, learn what they do, learn who they are, learn where they are from, and be an expert. Start coming up with questions that you want to learn about them and the position. Most employers like to talk about the company they work for. They are more than happy to explain what they do and how the job you want can help them. Don’t be afraid to ask! This is the best time to know what you are looking for. Now, is asking about wage considered, rude? Yeah, maybe. Especially for higher end jobs. And maybe the 1st interview isn’t the time to ask. But, this isn’t JUST an interview for them. It’s an interview for you! Is this the place you want to be? What kind of things do you want in a company? Ask! This is the time for you and the employer to learn about each other. Honestly, the candidates who are having a good conversation with me, are going to leave a better impression and I’ll remember them more.
Now what? The interview is over. You might be thinking: Do I just sit and wait for an answer? Do I send a thank you letter? Do I call them asking about the interview? All great questions and all questions we’ve asked ourselves. Frankly, every employer is different and so you won’t know the answer. All you need to do is be patient. While in the interview, it’s a good idea to ask about follow up procedures and who you can talk to about the status of the interview. Typically, you may get a general answer like “We’ll let you know”. But, it is a good idea to stay in their minds. NOT EVERY DAY! They might have several candidates that they HAVE to interview and so they may not have an answer until the end. Regardless, you do want to stay in touch. Sending a thank you card isn’t necessary and some employers may just throw it out, but they’ll see your name. Calling a week later just to inform them that you are still very interested in the position is also not a bad idea but I repeat, DO NOT PESTER THEM EVERY DAY! That’s a fast way to make it to the “No” pile. You’ll get your answer, soon enough.
WOO HOO! They called and offered you a position with their company! That’s great news. Good luck there and remember…