A lot of time my articles focus on businesses. To remain relevant to the situation, I thought we should change it with a focus on job hunting this month.
To find success in your job search you can’t have any false assumptions. Too often, talented people find themselves upended because they were surprised about something they didn’t know or expect. Here are some things you could keep in mind throughout your job hunt, based on comments I have heard throughout my experience assisting job seekers:
1. You need to have the necessary skills and experience to get the job. “I would have loved that job and could have figured out how to do it with some training and help along the way, why won’t they give me a go?” Employers hire people because they are convinced those hires already have the skills and experience to do a job well. That definitely doesn’t mean you can’t make a significant career change I am all for reinventing yourself, I have changed careers a few times myself. But no matter the circumstance, you need to somehow demonstrate a strong basis of relevant skills and experience upon which a hiring manager can predict your success.
2. Then….Just because you have the required skills and experience doesn’t mean you will get the job. From an employer’s standpoint, the hiring process is about much more than matching candidate skills and experience with a job opening’s stated requirements. They also carefully consider that elusive quality called “fit.” While it isn’t a very satisfying reason to hear when you are rejected, “fit” can include personality, temperament, career progression and a host of other legitimate elements.
3. You will likely be asked the salary question in your first conversation. Be prepared for it. Rather than fumbling or becoming rattled, give a respectful HONEST answer that highlights a current or recent compensation level. Make it clear that you understand that the salary in this job may be different as the role, environment, cost of living and other factors are not aligned, however make sure you have stressed that you are flexible, better to get a lower offer and negotiate up than no offer at all because you priced yourself out of the role in the interview. Make sure you include in your answer the value you offer rather than the cost you represent as a new hire.
4. Employers are interested in your key accomplishments and how you attained them – not your job description. You can pretty much assume that serious candidates for a given role will all have histories of similar responsibilities. When you begin bullet points on your resume with “Responsible for …” you lump yourself in with the rest of the candidates and provide no reason why your background is superior to theirs. As an alternative, use a CAR – challenge, action, result – statement. Explain one of your responsibilities, and then highlight what you actually did and what value resulted from your actions. Here’s an example:
- Suggested a new market strategy to management. Took the lead on the project which developed new markets in XXX sector. This subsequently moved our current sales from YYY resulting an additional ZZZ of revenue for the business.
5. Don’t Rubbish your past employer. Even if you feel like a jilted lover about your past company or manager and you can’t wait to vent your frustrations on the first person that will listen, now is not the time. Many times, Candidates sit in front of me and really go to town on how bad they thought their past manager was, how the organisational culture in the place was terrible. When asked “why did you leave” or why are you considering the role” dogging your past employer is not a good look on you or anyone. (save this for your therapy session). Be respectful of your past employer and simply mention that this role feels like it may be a better fit for you.
6. Sour grapes make you sour. Even if you only apply to jobs for which you believe yourself to be well-qualified or even perfect, no job is a shoo-in. You will get rejections. Sometimes you’ll get many rejections. Stuff happens. Maybe your CV wasn’t read. Maybe the hiring manager wasn’t astute enough to figure out how fabulous you really are. It’s possible that the job was “hard-wired” for someone else.
It’s true that life isn’t fair. Wallowing in self-pity or placing the blame on others for the job you didn’t get won’t get you the job you deserve. Often, just the opposite is true. When you blame your circumstances on the faults of others, you rob yourself of the ability to go forward with a positive attitude. Without that, no matter how skilled and experienced you are, chances are good you won’t have the positive energy it takes to do what must be done to succeed the next time around.
Oh yeah…and align yourself with a good headhunter that understands you.