Last week, I shared 9 Job Search Tips I had gleaned from a recent spout of recruiting at work. In the comments of that post and via Facebook, I received some great responses from friends and colleagues and thus decided a part two was in order. Happy hunting!
- Be prepared – This one is so important it should be shouted from rooftops: BE PREPARED! It means that you should research the company where you are interviewing. Be able to explain to the interviewer what the company does and the responsibilities of the job. Run through potential interview questions with a friend and be able to answer all of them. Have a great answer to the “why should I hire you?” question; it’s a classic and often gets asked.
- Use the cover letter to your advantage – One of my pet peeves (only one, you ask?) is when someone applies for a job for which I am recruiting from outside of my state/region and I don’t know if they are really interested. Are they moving here? Or, are they randomly applying for jobs? This is important because often I am hiring in a compressed time period, and I might not have the flexibility to consider someone who has to relocate. This is where the cover letter can be helpful. Use it to explain anything that you really want the hiring manager to know (e.g., I’m moving to Boston in August, my family lives in New England and I am looking to move closer to them, etc.). It’s also a good place to note any people you have in common or if you know someone at the company who recommended that you apply for the position. Oh, and no typos!
- Try the informational interview – Asking for an informational interview can be a way to make a positive impression without the pressure of applying for a job. While informal, these meetings can provide you with a chance to learn more about the industry and make a valuable connection. Ask the person you’re meeting with for their advice about your career, bring your resume, and always send a thank you note afterward. Try to do these meetings in person versus over the phone (this is from personal experience), and, if it goes well, ask if you can get introduced to someone else, thereby extending the connection. I once had informational interviewing explained to me as “planting seeds for an opportunity that can grow down the line,” which I love. Make sure you cultivate those connections, and you never know what could come about.
- Be a grown-up – In other words, bring your best self to the meeting. Don’t chew gum during the interview (this happened to a colleague of mine), don’t talk about the party you went to last weekend, and don’t tell personal stories that present you in an immature or unprofessional light. Not sure if what you plan to share makes you look bad? Ask a family member or current co-worker.
- Don’t complain – About the commute to the interview, about the parking, about former or current colleagues, about your boss, about anything.
- Don’t lie – Your goal in the interview is to be your best you. I’d guess that your best you isn’t a liar, so be mindful of how much you embellish a story or your experience. A good reference check can draw out inconsistencies in your story, and you’ll be dropped from consideration.
- Use social media – This advice is from my husband, a LinkedIn power user. Years ago, when he was a full-time recruiter, he used LinkedIn as a tool to find candidates by searching on key words in their profiles. This can be a very successful technique for both recruiters and job seekers, so make sure your profile is up-to-date. As a prospective candidate, use sites like LinkedIn or Twitter to find people who work at the company or companies you’re interested in; it can be a helpful way to understand the corporate culture and what opinion leaders in your field are saying. Hand-in-hand with using social media to find a job is the concept of protecting your online presence: clean up your own social media profiles before beginning a search. I, for one, always Google a candidate, and the last things I want to find are inappropriate pictures on Facebook or a rant-filled Twitter feed.
- Ask first – Excellent references are a must. Be courteous of your references by asking them in advance to serve in this capacity and then give them a heads up when they will be contacted. And, send a thank you note afterward!
- Know your worth – In a recent Parade magazine interview about work-life balance, First Lady Michelle Obama talked about how women have to advocate for themselves in the workplace. “Negotiate hard and know your worth,” she advised. It’s a good tip – intimidating, too, but one that can change the workplace if we all try it.