Wednesday, April 30, 2014

If you don’t land the interview, you’ll never get the job.

Never have I landed a job where I applied to a position online.  Not even once. But I enjoy a great job, a comfortable paycheck and a career that I absolutely love.  Maybe I’m just lucky like that.  But I like to think there’s more to it than luck.  In fact, I know there’s more to it than that. 

What’s my secret?  I get myself to the interview.  Without that first interview, you will never land your dream job.  It’s that simple.   So, if you’re stuck in that hellish nightmare that a job search can be, how do you get selected for an interview?  Here are a few things I’ve done (and some things I’ve noticed others do in my decade as a recruiting professional) to ensure my seat at the interview table.

1. Know what you want.
You telling me “I want to work in finance.” is a YAWN-AND-A-HALF.  Meanwhile, “My goal is to work as an Investment Banking Analyst, specifically in M&A, in the Oil & Energy sector.” puts a smile on my face and shows me you have actually put some thought into your career search.  
(Takeaway: If you don’t know what you want, nobody else will either.)

2. Know what you have to offer. 
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked by random strangers on LinkedIn or elsewhere whether I have time to spare for an informational interview with them.  Although I’d love to spend the 15-30 minutes that these eager career hopefuls yearn for, I simply don’t have the time...unless, of course, it is glaringly obvious that the person is a dream match for a job opening I’m currently working to fill.  

Some hiring managers may have the time.  But more often than not, you need to open that introductory conversation with a bang.  Knowing what you have to offer and being able to articulate that in your job search is critical.  Prepare yourself a mission statement.  Know it inside and out.  Deliver it appropriately. 
(Takeaway: If you can’t convince someone what you’re worth, you need to learn how to do so.)

3. Be creative.
One of my favorite personal hires in the last couple of years is a young guy who decided to be a little creative.  “I won’t waste your time inflating my credentials...the truth is I have no unbelievably special skills or genius eccentricities, but I do have a near perfect GPA and will work hard for you.”, he wrote in a humble but fresh email sent to an investment banker.  Now, that stands out!

Don’t be afraid to do things differently.   Hiring managers get hundreds (if not thousands) of resumes, cover letters and requests for informational interviews.  Those individuals who aren’t afraid to insert creativity into their approach are the ones we notice.
(Takeaway: Put yourself in the hiring managers’ shoes, and don’t give them a reason to yawn.)

4. Be bold. 
Don’t be afraid to contact the hiring manager directly to introduce yourself and let them know what you have to offer.  A quick search on Google or LinkedIn can render you the names of those individuals who have the power to sign your offer letter.  Yes, that’s right.  Somewhere here on the Internet is the name of the person who will determine whether you get your next job.  Why wait for them to find you?  Why not boldly find them and reach out directly?  Life is too short to be anything less than bold – personally and professionally.  What have you got to lose?
(Takeaway: Being bold beats being bored.)

5. Stay positive.
As you navigate the waters between previous and future jobs, it can be easy to become overwhelmed.  Make sure you keep your energy levels up and your attitude elevated.  Little things like daily exercise or regularly checking in with friends and colleagues during this time can work wonders for your spirit.  

Staying upbeat and positive, while not always easy, is probably the most important thing you can do to land yourself “THE” interview.  As Matthew McConaughey stated recently, it is a scientific fact that Gratitude reciprocates.  I firmly believe that.  If you’re living and breathing in a positive space, positive things will happen for you.  I’ve seen it too many times to doubt that.
(Takeaway: Stay positive, even when the chips are down.)

If you haven’t landed your dream job yet, don’t worry.  Take a few minutes to reflect on how you might incorporate a few of these action items into your game plan, and then go out there and get that interview! 

Until next time, continued career success your way...