Over the holidays I had the opportunity to sit down with a cousin-in-law of mine that’s in his Junior year at college. This kid is smart and has a real opportunity to get a good job in a year and a half or so.
While we were watching a football game, he asked me about living in other states (which I did when I was in the Army) and seemed interested in learning the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of living in a distant state and choosing a job, so I took the opportunity to impart a little wisdom (I hope).
When I was leaving the military, I was fortunate enough to read a book called Knock ‘Em Dead, which was a fantastic primer on looking for a job, writing a powerful resume, interviewing and other critical job search tasks. (note: the book is updated every year, so I’ve linked to the most current version.) I learned a little about the proper way to approach a job hunt (from a mindset perspective) and how to get the job that you really wanted from that book as well as from recruiting seminars that I attended.
The most important part of a job search to me is the angle that you approach it from. You see, there is a simple three step process to getting the right job:
1. Get interviews (lots of them).
2. Get offers (as many as you want).
3. Take the job that offers you the best options.
When you’re looking for a job, you should apply to as many jobs as you feel you are even remotely qualified. Make your resume stand out for each application by tailoring you resume to the requirements and desires of the job posting. Places like Monster.com and Hotjobs.com (not getting a link because they spammed me) are good places to start looking for jobs in general, but you’ll likely get more traction from local job posting boards or industry specific job listings.
Don’t limit your job search net. Cast the net as wide as you’re comfortable, and then cast it just a bit wider. If you live in a city like Houston, TX, and don’t have anything holding you there, look all over the country for a job… if the company that you submit your resume thinks you’re a possible fit, they’ll pay to talk to you. If the job posting is for a ‘management’ position and you’re not perfectly able to take that job right this second, apply anyways… you’ll likely get your resume dumped into that company’s system for future use when that manager that they do hire needs to find people to help him or her build the division out.
Don’t pull yourself out of the running just because you don’t think you’re a perfect fit. Let them make that distinction.
After you’ve landed an interview, don’t focus on getting the job… focus on getting a job offer. Learn to say ‘yes’ to almost any question if you can morally and ethically justify it. During the interview process listen to a question, take a deep breath, or moment to think, and then answer with the right answer (the one the hiring authority wants to hear). Look for ‘buy signals’ that tell you you’ve said the right thing, then shut the hell up. Sell yourself, then when you see them trying to sell the company to you, you should know that you’re getting close to the right place you want to be.
If you receive an offer from a company, NEVER accept it at face value immediately. Tell them politely that you’d like some time to think over your options (a week or two is usually good) especially if you have other interviews lined up. The goal in any job search is to get multiple offers to weigh, so that you’re taking the offer you want, not the only one you’ve got.
After you have multiple offers, go back to your primary choice and either accept the job as offered, or with additional perks as you see fit. If you’ve been offered three jobs that you’d take with good offers, look for the best offer from those three company’s and take it with a good feeling in your bones.
Always send letters to everyone you interview with before taking an offer and after. Always say ‘thank you’ and learn to say sir or ma’am if you’re not accustomed to saying it and you’ll go far in the interview process. Always call the interviewer Mr. or Mrs. so-and-so, no matter how informal the interview process… you’re the one on trial, not them.
So, again, get as many interviews as you can handle, get as many offers as you can get, then take the job you want based on all of your available options.
Read the book… it’ll help. There’s a lot more than just these principles in the book.
I can say this with a straight face: I’ve never not gotten a job I really wanted and was qualified for using these techniques as a baseline.
Next lesson in ‘getting a job’: networking (to be published at a later undetermined date).