Who Wants To Be Hired?
“You’re hired!”. Sweet words. But, these words have been heard very rarely in the past couple of years. The fiscal meltdown forced many to change their status from employed to unemployed. New recruits entering the market for jobs were finding it equally, if not more, difficult to secure any position in any firm. The unemployment rates have been gradually decreasing over the past year or so. However, the professional market is yet not very conducive to job search. Hundreds of people are applying for the same position that you may be vying for. It’s tougher than ever to land a quality job right now.
Companies simply do not want to hire and pay extraneous salaries which they did, and could afford to, in the past. Cost-cutting seems to be the motto everywhere and the primary method to perform cost-cutting is by reducing the number of employees. Seasoned professionals applying for jobs are told that firms are looking to hire fresh graduates who possess desire, drive and ambition akin to baby boomers. Contrarily, fresh graduates are often asked by employers for some relevant prior work experience which they obviously do not possess. Alas! The conundrums and ironies of life.
In this brutal and harsh employment market, a few valuable tips here and there can go a long way in giving you and your profile an added edge. Here are some of the best tips to help you hear the magic words – “You’re hired!”.
- Build Your Profile Correctly
Focus your time and effort into building your profile in a way which will positively influence the chances of securing a job in the desired industry/position of your choice. If you’re currently studying, model your electives or projects in a fashion that will increase job opportunities in your desired domain. And, if you’re not currently studying, then consider taking up a course/certification program which will help you join the corporate ladder. For example, if you’re looking for a career in programming, then get Sun certification for Java will massively boost your profile, Or, if you want to become a chef, do an extra culinary course at a reputed institute near you. Depending on the career of your choice, strengthen your profile accordingly. This “building” work will require only a small portion of each day and you will have plenty of time to work on the job hunt. It will be a massive boost to your profile and will help give you and edge over the rest of the herd. Remember, companies are looking to hire candidates who stand out of the herd of applicants, not those who belong to the herd.
Your resume is one of the most important aspects of your job search. And, shockingly enough, even though every individual is aware of this, they do not seem to fully understand it! Spending time in creating your resume is important. An hour or two isn’t enough. Dedicate days to your resume. Enlist all your important achievements. Put in the one’s which actually matter. Enlisting 3 months of culinary classes for a programming job in an I.T. industry would be stupid. Similarly, including a Sun certification in Java for the position of chef at a restaurant would be equally inane. Make sure you include your name and contact details in the resume. Minor points like listing your prior education or experience in reverse chronological order speak volumes about you implicitly. Be neat and use a standard font. Using Comic Sans only makes your potential employer feel that you’re a joke or you consider the job to be one. And, don’t hesitate to get creative. Lots of individuals are finding new and creative ways to create their resumes. Take a calculated risk once in a while. If you’re smart enough, it’ll pay off. And remember to tweak your resume for each application. The job designations will change here and there with each company, so make sure you change your resume accordingly to your favor.
- Apply, Apply, Apply!
If you thought applying to 10 companies would land you a job in this economy (forget your dream job) then I can only wonder how foolish you are. Of course, there is an exception for the 5% (Harvard grads included in this quota) who have the liberty of rejecting companies. But, for the masses, apply as much as you can. Apply to 100 companies. I am not quoting 100 as simply a random number. When I say 100, I mean 100! When you’re going shopping for a house, you will probably need to look at 100+ houses. From this number, you will probably like 20 odd houses and 10 will fit in your budget. After rigorous inspections and reviews, you will be down to 3 and finally you will pick 1. Well, the search for the dream job is similar to finding your dream house – except it’s 100 times more difficult. Also, you’re not going to have the liberty of rejecting companies as you would have in rejecting houses from your list. Intensive research is required. Look up as much as you can on the internet about the various companies which you could be potentially employed at (God bless Google). Make a list of 100 odd companies. Condense this list to include some dream companies and other firms which are within your reach. Make use of as many resources as you can. If you are a student, visit the training and placement division of your college. And apply! If you want to reap, you need to sow. And, in this case, you need to sow extensively. After all, only a small portion of all the seeds you sow will reap rich harvests. So, plant more seeds and increase your chances of reaping.
- Emails, Cover Letters et. al.
Now that you’re done picking your companies and your resume is ready, it’s finally time to apply. Golden Rule Number 1 – DO NOT copy paste or Bcc the same mass email and cover letter to all companies you are applying to. Let me repeat that for you. DO NOT copy paste or Bcc the same mass email to all companies you are applying to. Personalizing the application email and cover letter to which your resume is affixed is vital. From my perspective, not personalizing the emails and cover letters should be a crime. Sending mass emails makes you sound like a robot. Don’t think for a minute that your application reviewer won’t figure out that you have sent a mass email because he/she will. And, when they do figure it out, this is what they are going to think – “This applicant couldn’t remove half an hour and work sincerely to personalize his cover letter, how is he ever going to put in a sincere day’s work at my firm”. Tweaking your cover letter for different applications of even the same position at different firms is advisable. Keep in mind the goal and activities of the company and the requirements of the job designation as you make changes to your emails. And, devote quality and quantity time and effort to this because tweaking your cover letter is more important than tweaking your resume. Lastly, don’t commit the foolish mistake (in fact I’d rather call this mistake a “crime” as well) which several individuals do of not proof reading it for grammatical and other silly errors.
- Raise Your Klout
Firstly several people will have the question – “What is Klout?”. Your Klout is a score, on a scale of 1 to 100, which measures your social influence and engagement on networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Foursquare, WordPress and several more. Several people have questioned the accuracy of Klout in accurately determining the quality of each individual’s online interaction. However, you can waste your time complaining about the flaws of Klout or you can spend your time raising your Klout. It’s really your choice but an increasing number of employers have been asking candidates for their Klout scores as a part of the interview process. And, several quality candidates with plenty of experience have been eliminated on account of low Klout scores. Don’t believe me – check out this real life case study which featured on Forbes and Wired of how a man with 15 years of experience in companies like AOL, Ford and Kraft was eliminated on account of a low Klout score. Let’s face it, most of us love spending time on Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, Instagram etc. So, time spent on social networks which was earlier classified as a ”waste” can now be put to great use by engaging extensively on these networks. It’s time to get active and get interactive on social networks.
In addition to online social networking, networking in general is vital to securing your dream job. If you’re a student, do not miss a single opportunity you will have to interact with industry leaders and potential employers at various career fests and seminars. Consider this to be a sort of mini-interview. Be confident, approach them, offer a firm handshake and interact. Create the opportunity yourself instead of waiting for opportunity to come your way. Simply sitting in front of your laptop is not going to increase your clout and help you network. Don’t hesitate to go out and grab a beer or some dinner with colleagues and associates. It will give you a change from the arduous task of job-hunting and you will have the opportunity to interact with several new people who may be of help to you in your job hunt or even in ascending the corporate ladder. Make sure you carry a few business cards wherever you go. Business and job opportunities don’t scream when they are in your face. You have to be smart (or even cunning) enough to recognize them. One thing which I would like to stress on – Networking is a subtle art which is more complex than simply handing out your business card and calling a week later expecting a favor. And, quite often, you may need to provide a favor now to get one later. So, get out, get interactive and plant the seeds of networking.
If a company has called you for an interview, it means you’re definitely doing something right (one or more of the above steps maybe). What an interview call essentially means is that you are among a number of candidates the company is considering and this is your opportunity to WOW then and sweep them off their feet. In terms of interviews, don’t forget the basics such as dressing formally, maintaining posture and speaking coolly and confidently. Your body language speaks volumes about you. Quite often your potential employer will have created his first impressions about you before you have even opened your mouth. Remember that first impressions are very often lasting impressions in terms of job interviews (similar to blind dates). Most importantly, think on your feet. No matter how thoroughly you prepare yourself for the interview, you dream firm will most definitely pop up with questions which you couldn’t have possibly expected. Don’t be afraid to be bold in your replies (remember, bold but not stupid). I cannot stress this enough – Your dream firm is looking for candidates which stand out of the herd, not those which fit right into the herd. So, dare to be different. That’s one of the few ways you can charm your potential employers to good effect.
- Motivation and Optimism
When all else fails, just keep believing. During the job hunt, you’re bound to be a little nervous as well as very low on confidence. Rejections may exacerbate the situation even further. Through all this low self-esteem, it is very important to keep believing in yourself and staying motivated. When everything seems to be going against you, the motivation which is driving you on will be the key factor to finding that dream job. Quite often the difference between landing a job and not landing one is hard work and motivation. Being optimistic may be tough, but it is also necessary. Employers can smell low self-esteem the same way a lion can smell its prey. Learning to accept rejection would be vital to pursuing your job search successfully. So, don’t let anything put you down. Get up and keep searching. Keep fighting. If you’re going to tap out after the first punch, you’re wasting your life. The last man/woman standing will win. Make sure you are that last man! After all, if you get everything the easy way, you will never cherish it as much.
Following the steps enlisted above will greatly enhance your chances of landing that dream job you are vying for at the Fortune 500 firm you imagined you’d be working at when you were in college. I wish you success in your job hunt and would be delighted if you could think of a few more points to help other candidates in their job hunt. Additionally, after you get the offer for your job, don’t forget to catch “Who Wants To Be A Professional?”. This piece will be of great help in pushing you up the corporate ladder (or corporate mountain that it has now become).