An Interviewer Tells You How to Get Yourself Hired
You Can Do It!
Before I get into how I'm going to help you, let me tell you a little bit about myself. I found a job straight out of college. I moved to Atlanta to get into technology sales and was doing quite well for my first year (six figures to be more specific). Three years later, I fell victim to the 2008 real estate market crash, and was laid off along with 6% of my sales team. I went from doing so well to being unemployed in a big city with a $1200 per month apartment. I did what any other laid-off, unemployed person would do and started the job hunt. Unfortunately, at the time most companies were in a hiring freeze or cost-cutting mode and weren't looking to hire a 23-year old with little experience.
Looking back, I hated going through that experience but I also realize that I was able to learn so much along the way. It's molded me to who I am today. I eventually found the right job after 6 months of unemployment.
Fast forward eight years later and I manage a team of 60 sales people at a Fortune 300 company. I am responsible for all the hiring which means I travel from school to school attending career fairs and interviewing about 100 candidates every year. I have also interviewed scores of candidates with industry experience. I've participated in numerous panels and workshops for best practices in regards to getting employed. I can't tell you the number of candidates that I have interviewed that are unprepared and unmotivated. Eventually, I started pulling people aside and giving them pointers. Everything from telling them to relax to tucking their shirts in.
I've been amazed as to what I've seen so I figured I would put together a quick guide to getting employed.
Finding a Job is a Full-Time Job!
Don't waste your time unless you're prepared to put in the work. It's not going to be Will Smith (The Pursuit of Happiness) style, but plan to spend at least a solid 1-2 hours per day job hunting and applying. If you're not about that life, I suggest you save yourself some time, stop reading and I wish you the best of luck. If you are, keep going and let the journey begin!
1. Make looking for a job a full-time job. Unless it's inherited in the family or a part-time gig at a fast food joint, it's going to take effort and a little elbow grease to get find a job. Get over it: it's temporary, worth it and you'll thank yourself later. You will have to put together a resume, submit applications, and yes, you will have to interview. Be prepared to get rejected and to have to start the process all over again. It's OK though because this is the process of getting a job. If you don't get rejected, you aren't trying. The important thing is to learn from each experience. Sometimes we feel so desperate that we beat ourselves up thinking it was the last opportunity available on earth. The easiest way to get over it is to keep grinding and move on to the next one. When you eventually find the right job, you may look back and be thankful that you didn't get an offer from the wrong company (because you may have taken it and been miserable). I know I did.
You will have to invest time on your resume as this is going to be the key to any interview. It's not worth applying for any job unless you have a solid resume and you may ruin your only chance getting in the door. Once you do have your resume, be prepared to spend 1-2 hours per day browsing jobs on every job website available. The majority of them are free to sign up and submit a resume. You can post your resume and companies/recruiters will reach out to you for interviews. The most important part is that this becomes a continual cycle until you find your job. It has to become a routine and that's why people say that finding your job is a full-time job. It's true.
2. Leverage your resources. If you are in college and getting ready to graduate, take advantage of the career services your school has to offer. 60% of students never fully take advantage of the resources they have and worst of all, it's free! I would have done anything to tap into those resources when I was laid off. I had to do it all myself and figure it out thru trial and error. Most schools have seminars, classes and mock sessions to help prepare their students. TAKE ADVANTAGE!!! It's probably the most underutilized function of our tuition. They will help you prepare your resumes and practice interviews but best of all, they set you up with companies who are hiring! Companies (like mine) recruit at the schools and set up interviews directly through the campus career center. Again, all free and only a fool wouldn't take advantage.
If you aren't in college anymore or never went, don't worry! The same methodology applies to getting hired. Utilize all the job websites that you can and most importantly, get on LinkedIn. It is a key tool for networking. Make sure you have a professional profile picture and not one of you drinking a beer on the beach.
Go to your neighborhood supermarket and grab an employment listing. There's always good opportunities to gain experience. Don't limit yourself to one or two dream jobs. Even if it's something you're not sure you're interested in, go through the process as practice.
3. Resumes are the key. Unless you've already met the interviewer in person, resumes are the first thing someone sees when deciding to extend an invitation to an interview. Especially if there are a lot of candidates, I will look at a resume and within 20 seconds I know whether or not we want to reach out to someone for an interview. Here are the key things I look for.
- Length. Unless you've been in business for 20 years or are a doctor, keep your resumes to one page. Interviewers don't want to deal with multiple pages and will most likely move on unless something grabs their attention.
- Clutter. Aside from multiple pages, nothing will get a resume tossed quicker than clutter. Naming every detail or thing you have done in your life is unnecessary. Be short and to the point. Make every piece of information relate to the job you are applying for.
- Customization. It may not make or break your resume but customizing it towards the company you are interviewing with definitely gives you a nod against those that don't. It still has to be sharp and professional but I highly recommend taking the time.
- Relevance. Similar to clutter, nothing is worse than having to read information that isn't even relevant. How your experience relates to the job, the industry, or the type of work should always be described. Take the opportunity to sell yourself through your accomplishments and work experience from previous employers.
4. Interviewing. There's no such thing as a bad interview. Maybe an unsuccessful one, but interviewing is an experience that you can always improve upon. I get annoyed when I hear unemployed people say that "I got invited to interview with a company but I'm not sure I would like the job" or "I don't know if it's a good fit." Well, I tell them to interview and find out. You don't even know what they will offer you if you don't go through the process. Go through with it, get an offer, and then decide if you want to work there.
When it comes to dressing for interviews, you will have to look presentable. You need either a suit or coat/tie combo. These days you can find a cheap suit or coat just about anywhere and worst case rent or borrow one from a friend. Looking the part is the easy part. If you look good, you'll feel good. Not that any interviews or job awards should ever be based on looks, but it certainly doesn't hurt.
Once you've decided on an interview, it's critical that you be on time as well as well dressed. First appearances mean a lot when it comes to interviewing. I suggest getting there 15 minutes early and always dressing up to the occasion. Worst case, if other candidates are dressed down and it's casual, you can always take off your tie or coat. Come prepared. It drives me crazy when I've finished interviewing a candidate and they don't have any questions in return. Even if it's your third interview of the day with the same employer, ask questions! Do your research beforehand and write down at least ten questions. Some will be answered throughout your interview and you don't want to get caught empty-handed. You may come off as being uninterested or unprepared. Ask about the company culture, your interviewer's background or challenges with the role. The more you keep the interviewer talking, the better.
Be prepared to talk about your experience and how it relates to the job you want. It doesn't matter if you have had the most prestigious internships or worked at a fast-food place flipping burgers. It's all about how you relate your experience and translate it into value for your employer. If you don't have any work experience, you can do the same with volunteering or sports. If you have none of the above, I suggest you get involved during your free time in hopes of building your resume.
Last, make sure you ask for a business card so that you can follow up. It's always nice to send a sincere note along with summarizing your reason for being a good candidate. If they don't respond, it's OK. Don't go overboard or follow up more than once. If you haven't heard back from anyone after two weeks, I recommend contacting the HR contact first.
Well, I've broken down the basics to getting employed. As I mentioned in the first sentence above, you have to be willing to fully commit to finding a job. Once you have developed a good resume, get after it and apply to as many jobs using as many job search engines as possible. Once you start the interview process, take it seriously and prepare. The more interviews you go through, the better you will get and the more you will increase your odds of getting an offer.