In our most recent blog post, we offered advice on How to Find Your Dream Job. This week, we’re encouraging you a step further with strategies to land a job. Once you have found the job that you think would be the perfect fit for you, how do you capture the attention of the hiring manager, interview well, and ultimately land your career of choice? The following steps will help you earn a foot in the door to your dream job.
Use Your Network to Make Contact with the Employer
The easiest way to get an interview is to get somebody else to schedule it for you. You may have heard of the Kevin Bacon game – or Six Degrees of Separation. Similarly, there is likely no more than six degrees of contacts separating you from that introduction.
Utilize Social Media
One of the best ways to expand your network is by consistently updating your LinkedIn Profile. Social Media, LinkedIn in particular, is a great tool to connect with your network and make them aware you are looking for a new position. Spending time on relevant LinkedIn groups could help you find positions that may not be advertised in other places.
Take Time to Craft a Compelling Script
You should always be comfortable answering the questions, “What are you seeking?”, “Why should I hire you?”, “What are you good at?”, and other similar questions. You have spent so much time now researching the industry, company and hiring contacts, you should be in a position to talk as well about the opportunity as you are your own resume.
Through your research you may have found non-profits in which the company you are interested is active, or boards on which they serve.
Find Ways to Keep In Touch
You may have read an article recently in which someone in the company was quoted, it impressed you and you sent the article to that person along with a note.
You may have utilized your university’s alumni network to find other graduates working at the company who can serve as a champion for your cause.
Customize your cover letter and resume to the opportunity
- Each cover letter and resume should be unique to that specific opportunity.
- Use keywords from the job description in your resume. Write your resume to the job. If you know the person who posted the job in which you are interested was an athlete, highlight your athletic achievements; if they have a lot of work accomplishments, highlight your career achievements, if they are involved in the nonprofit community, highlight the differences you’ve made in the community. Leverage your knowledge.
- Be organized, professional, and truthful.
- Show measurable accomplishments.
- Personal information on a resume isn’t necessary – unless it establishes a connection.
Schedule Informational Interviews
Another approach, and one we highly recommend, is to schedule informational interviews instead of job interviews. Once you know the type of work you want to do and have researched the best companies to work for in that field, call the CEO, company leadership, or specific decision makers in the company, explain what you have learned about the business, and that you have an interest in the industry and would like to spend 30 minutes with them getting to know their story.
As an example, we will have people call and say, “I am interested in the recruiting industry and through my research have become very impressed with Greene Resources. I know recruiting is the industry for me and I would appreciate some advice from what I consider to be one of the best in the industry.” We always take those calls.
Preparing for the Interview
Next, you’ve used your network to connect with decision makers within the company, and you’ve landed an interview. How do you prepare for it?
First, research the company/organization in depth using social media and the company’s website. Look at press releases, executive bios, company history, fact sheets, recent blogs, and social media posts. Contact people who work there or used to work there. From the job description, are you able to decipher what is most important to the company in a candidate? If not, is there someone you can talk to who can provide such information?
With any company you are interviewing, put yourself in a position to be able to talk as well about their company as you are your own resume.
Identify What You Have to Sell
What are the top three skills or experiences you can offer to the employer that other applicants cannot?
Prepare examples of your work – Anyone can make claims in job interviews; far fewer people back up those claims with evidence. Consider developing a career portfolio or a 90-day plan and using it as a presentation during the interview. What a differentiator it would be to say, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this position and what it will take to be successful. If you don’t mind, I would like to share with you my ninety day plan if I am given the opportunity to work with you….then go on to describe what you will do and accomplish in the first ninety days.
Always, Always, Follow Up
The last step is following up after the interview. Always send a handwritten thank you note. Cecilia Grimes of Etiquette Matters wrote a wonderful article on the art of writing a Thank you note. In it she explains to first tilt the note toward the recipient. Instead of saying “I want to thank you…” start with “You” or “Your”. Then, include details, illustrations and examples. Use interesting, professional stamps, maintain crisp margins, and pull out the thesaurus. Replace “thanks” with words like “appreciate” and “grateful”. Replace nice, good, great, wonderful, with words like delightful, stimulating, captivating, inspired.
If you are following up with a proposal or plan, make sure it is laser-focused to the specific opportunity at hand.
Lastly, discover ways to stay in touch with them. The best way to stay in touch is to help win them business or introduce them to opportunities.
With any follow up, we think it is best to follow a suggestion made by Ken Blanchard in the book Gung Ho! When he described the “Congratulatory Continuum”. We can view it more as a “relationship building continuum” or “follow up continuum”. The more you can move your activities from being less programmed and more spontaneous, less blanketed and more individual, less general and more specific, and less traditional and more unique – the greater your success in any encounter.
In conclusion, take the time to identify your gifts, develop a target list of companies that can use those gifts, research those companies and industries, use your network to get introduced and land an interview, be properly prepared for that interview so that you create the standout experience, and follow up in a way that makes you memorable.
Check back soon as we uncover a few unspoken tips of the interview process from our recruiters!