Archive for the 'get a job' Category

Job Interview Advice

I’ve been interviewing folks again, and I’ve got some advice for those of you interviewing. If you find yourself in an interview situation, please remember these points:

  • Arrive early. Go to the bathroom and make sure you’re presentable. Wash your hands. Then proceed to the office looking your best and confident of your first impressions.
  • Be prepared for any question, no matter what stage you think the process is in. Every answer you give matters.
  • If you’re interviewing with multiple people, don’t assume they’ve talked to each other about you. Answer the same questions with the same answers if needed.
  • Bring multiple copies of your resume on simple but heavy paper.
  • Ask questions when given the opportunity
  • Ask good questions that show you understand business
  • Ask questions that show you care about the job and the company you’re interviewing with
  • Ask questions about the job, and about the culture of the company
  • When the interviewer says “do you have any questions for us?” don’t just say, “nope, I think I’m good” – it sends the wrong signals.
  • Act interested. Sit up during the interview. Don’t lean back.
  • Pay attention to what your body is saying to the interviewer. Don’t cross your arms or play with your hair.
  • When you’re interviewing, act like you want the job.
  • Ask for an offer. As how to get an offer, if you aren’t sure of the next steps.
  • Ask what the next steps in the process are.
  • If you feel like something wasn’t said in the interview, say it. You only have one chance to get to the next step.
  • If the interview is over the phone, get clear about how to proceed to the next step in the process.
  • Sell your past achievements.
  • Sell your past failures as learning experiences, and share what you’ve learned from them.
  • Send hand-written thank you notes to everyone you’ve met at the company. They should be simple: “Thank you for meeting with me. I’m looking forward to working with you, and would appreciate any advice you can give me about how to move to the next step. I’m looking for an offer from your company and I’m excited to start soon.” Or “Thank you for meeting with me. I hope we can work together soon. If you have any follow up questions for me, please contact me as soon as possible.”
  • Keep in mind that just because you got an interview, you don’t have an offer until you have one. Your goal in an interview should be to get an offer. Period. Even if you don’t want to work there. The interview with the company you don’t want to work for is practice for the company you do want to work for.
  • Make it a game called “How do I get a job offer from this company?” and play to win that game.

Hope that helps.

And yes, I’m hiring online advertising or technology sales people based in Austin, Texas. Contact me through my contact form, if you’re interested.

Some bosses…

Seth Godin writes things all the time that just make so much sense. In his post “The You Show” I found this nugget:

“Some bosses don’t want to hire people who have a vision, a personality and a shtick. That’s okay. You don’t want to work for them anyway.”

[via @tylerfonda]

How to post a job for free on LinkedIn

I use LinkedIn to advertise open positions in my company, but, I do it for free, instead of paying for them (we also use Craigslist and the University of Texas Access website for former graduates, since we’re in Austin). All of these options are free. Craigslist and UT Access are great sources of candidates. LinkedIn can be a good source for mid-senior level candidates, but more importantly, it’s a way of advertising your company’s growth or success to your peers, colleagues and associates. When people see your job ad, they usually think something like “Great, John’s company is hiring and growing… that’s awesome!” Posting a job on LinkedIn also gets me back in touch with people I haven’t had a chance or need to talk to in a while, which is an added bonus… as a sales person, there are reasons to talk to people that might be able to bring me business or vice-versa, but I might not be as good at keeping in touch as I should be all the time.

LinkedIn redesigned their website sometime in the past 6 months, and I found myself needing to post a job listing to send to my connections on LinkedIn last week. The old design made it easy to find with a “don’t want to pay now, send your job listing to your connections” call to action ad on the job posting page. With the new design I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to post a job listing for free. So this quick guide is for all of you looking to send a free job posting on LinkedIn to your connections:

1. Login to your account.
2. In the menubar at the top click on “jobs -> post a job”. This takes to you the “Compose a job” section of the “Hiring and Recruiting” section of LinkedIn.

3. Then “compose” the job you want listed.

4. Click “Save Draft” or “Next” it doesn’t matter* (hitting “Next” will save your job posting as a draft)

*I’m assuming it doesn’t matter, you just have to then make sure you don’t actually pay for the job posting on the next page if you click “Next”

5. Click on the “Manage Jobs” tab in the “Hiring and Recruiting” section (you should be there still)

6. On the right, click on “Distribute” next to the job you just posted as a draft.

7. From there, just select your connections and send the posting. Note: You are limited to a certain number of connections, so if you have more than that limit that you want to send the job to, you might have to do these last two steps (6 and 7) a couple of times to get your job sent out to all of your connections.

One note: if you have a lot of connections that aren’t in the same city as you’re hiring, and the job requires living in that city, or relocating… make sure you note that in your job posting. There’s nothing like having to disqualify the high-quality resumes you’ll get from LInkedIn because you didn’t take time to add that piece of information to the job posting.

Hope that helps. Good luck finding the right candidate through LinkedIn.

And yes, we’re hiring a Marketing Manager at my company: UnsubCentral. If you’re interested, or know someone in Austin that might be, contact us through this Craiglist posting, or my LinkedIn profile, if we’re connected.

Thanks!

Note to JobSeekers: Don’t save your resume in Office 2007 format

I’ve got two job openings that I’m trying to fill:

A Sales Manager position and an Account Manager or Coordinator position (if you’re looking in Austin, shoot us your resume … contact info on those job postings – or if you can find my email address on this site (it’s on here somewhere, but I don’t want to get more spam), email me.)

Anyways, I’m trying to fill this position. And someone just sent us their resume in Office 2007 format.

I don’t have Office 2007. In fact, I’d make a bet that most people don’t have Office 2007. I’m still using Office 2003 on Windows, and Office 2004 on my Mac. So, I try to open their resume (which looks weird with the .docx extension by the way) and Word prompts me to download and install some Office 2007 backwards compatibility stuff. So I hit Okay. And the installer makes me restart my computer.

“What the fuck?” I think to myself.

And I’m thinking about hiring this person? They just cost me 20 minutes of my day. Nope, next.

So, lesson to all of you that might be job-hunting. Save your resume in a format that’s really portable. Use an older Word format, or even better… save is as a Rich Text Format (.RTF) file. That’s totally cross platform compatible, and will open in just about any text-editor, or in Word, and it’ll still look good.

Don’t use Office 2007 to send out your resume… it won’t impress people, it’ll just waste their time. Impress them by sending it in RTF.

And BAAAAD Microsoft making me restart my computer to install a converter utility.

Leaving a Job – A Few Lessons for Management

Here are some management lessons for anyone that runs a sales organization. No names will be used. If you know who I used to work for, I’d appreciate it if you kept it to yourself in the comments (or your own posts) on other weblogs about this entry.

These are the reasons I left my last job:

  1. They changed the entire sales organization structure and compensation plan in January 2006 to my short term detriment, but probably in the end it’ll work out well for the company. It’s a smart move, just wasn’t communicated well at all.
  2. They changed my compensation plan on January 1, 2006 and didn’t explain the new plan until late January 2006.
  3. The new plan took a good 25 percent of my last year’s pay out of my pocket, with no warning and no effort to compensate for the change.
  4. My boss promised lots of things he had the responsibility to deliver but didn’t have the authority to promise. Needless to say, enough of the promises were broken or backed out of to leave a very bad taste in my mouth. If you’re a manager, don’t promise things you don’t already have approved. Don’t say “I’ll try to do X if we hit this goal.” That’s an implied promise.
  5. My boss’s boss embellished facts (basically lied) to friends of mine and potential clients of ours… and then had the nerve to call it selling. I firmly believe in selling what you’ve got, not what you want to have. Don’t get me wrong… answer questions as positively as you can, but don’t outright lie.
  6. I was given a new sales territory, but wasn’t given the two biggest accounts in my sales territory, even after I asked for them multiple times and made arguments as to why they should have been mine. That planted the seed that said “We don’t trust you to handle this business.”
  7. I started to resent management, and wasn’t sure of my decision to work for this company based on the “new organization”. I had a hard time telling myself that “it would get better” when it clearly wasn’t.
  8. This will sound silly, but, no one asked me how I was doing until it was too late (ie. three or four weeks after I decided to start looking for a new job).
  9. My boss actually said these things in group meetings (or at least this is what I heard him say) “If you don’t like it, then you should find a new job” multiple times, and “The CEO is telling us ‘this is the message, if you don’t use the message, then we’ll fire you… if the message doesn’t work, we’ll change it.'” What was I supposed to do?
  10. Oh, and one other thing I thought was really stupid:

  11. The company published a “no-blogging” policy in sometime in early Q1. This “no-blogging” policy comes from a company that has had me telling clients that “transparency is the future of this business.” Ugh!

In the end, trust is a two way street, and I lost all trust in my current immediate manager and senior manager. I trusted them to take care of me, while I took care of them. When they showed that they didn’t trust me to take care of them, I started questioning their motives. Then I started seeing that they weren’t taking care of me. At least not fast enough for me, and while I never said point blank “fix this stuff, or I’m leaving” I did ask for help many times, and it usually fell on deaf ears, or so it seemed.

I told myself I’d give it 90 days in January. Guess what?

I was kicking ass under the new sales organization and structure as of the day I quit (number 4 in an organization of 15 or so, after starting at “tied for number 15” in January). I’d given it 90 days and didn’t see any real progress other than my own.

I can be successful anywhere, and I will be at my next job.

The funny thing is that I’ve left behind a really good bunch of people that’ll be really successful as individuals, and I hope that the old saying “a rising tide raises all boats” isn’t the only thing that makes my old company successful… but I’m fearful it might be. I was the 7th person to leave the sales side of the company in 5 months. 7th out of 15 or 20… tell me that that tells you when you see someone lose one-third of their sales staff through attrition that quickly.

I know there are lots of resumes out on the street from that company. So if you’re looking for a good sales person, senior sales person, or VP-level sales person, let me know, and I’ll put you in touch with my former co-workers, as best I can based on my NDA/non-compete.

Long story short, I stopped drinking the company Koolaid, because I stopped trusting my superiors.

For those of you stuck in bad positions: Find a backup plan if you want to make things better… find that next job, then go to your management and see if you can get things “made better” for you, if you want to keep that current job. If you don’t want to stay, leave, and take that next job. If you’re a good employee, and are worth keeping, they’ll probably fight to keep you. But remember, especially if you’re a sales person, that you’re only worth “What you did for me lately” so that tact may backfire for you if you threaten to leave and don’t have a backup plan… you never know.

New job on 5/22

Just a note to say I quit my job on Monday. Or at least I gave them two weeks notice.

I start my new job on May 22nd, and will post more then.

I’ll also say that my former company is enforcing my non-compete, which limited the offers I could accept (I had three on the table). In the end, the job I’ve taken is going to totally kick ass, and I’m excited about it (it’s the one I wanted to take anyways) but I wanted those other options open for my own negotiation power… and they’re being dicks about the non-compete.

Lesson learned: don’t ever sign another non-compete. A NDA, or IP-clause, fine… but not a non-compete.

More on the reasons I left and where I’m heading next after I get my last paycheck.

Sidenote: I should be blogging more again soon šŸ˜‰

How to do what you love

How to do what you love – one of the best essayists around, Paul Graham, teaches us how to do what we love to do. Love it Paul!

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Mobility inside a company

Jeremy Zawodny moved jobs inside Yahoo recently, and his post about it hit me like a hammer (emphasis mine):

“And on that note, I love the fact that I can move around within Yahoo. Many companies talk about how employees are free to look at internal opportunities, but not all of them make it easy to pursue those opportunities. They throw up lots of barriers, seemingly encouraging their employees to look elsewhere rather than stick around. My experience at Yahoo has shown that mobility is a fact of life. I know of many other coworkers who’ve tried out various roles over the last few years.”

My last job had a “we encourage people to move around inside the company” policy, but I never felt it was really encouraged or practiced well at all, but that may just be my perception. That being said, my perception of that policy did make me look outside rather than inside when it came time to move on.

Congrats Jeremy.

Job Pointer: LJWorld.com is hiring

Are you a web developer looking for a rock solid job with a great team that you’ll enjoy being a part of?

Apply for the job that Adrian has told the world is open:

Job: Web developer for World Online in Lawrence, Kansas

Alas, my friend and co-worker Simon Willison will be completing his year-long job placement and leaving our company in a few months to go back to school in England. We at World Online are officially looking for a Web programmer/developer to fill his position — as soon as possible.

I can’t tell you enough how impressed I am with the development coming out of Lawrence… these guys are definitely pushing the envelope, and if I could pull of selling them on the idea that I knew more than I know about development, I’d apply for the job myself…

The competition for this position is sure to be tough, but fight for the job if you’re at all qualified… you’ll thank me in a few months/years for alerting you to the job if you get it.

Disclaimer: This is not a paid reference… Adrian didn’t ask me to post this (nor did anyone else at LJWorld.com). I’m just a big fan of what they’re doing. I also haven’t actually met any of that team in person, just talked to them over the phone or by IM/email a few times. Their reputation precedes them in the online news arena.

Resume Writing Advice

The Rockport Institute has a six-part series on how to write a resume. (hat tip to Angie McKaig for the pointer.)

Their advice is fantastic, and capitalizes on the idea that you should do “active personal marketing” with your resume:

THE NUMBER ONE PURPOSE OF A RESUME

The resume is a tool with one specific purpose: to win an interview. If it does what the fantasy resume did, it works. If it doesn’t, it isn’t an effective resume. A resume is an advertisement, nothing more, nothing less.

A great resume doesn’t just tell them what you have done but makes the same assertion that all good ads do: If you buy this product, you will get these specific, direct benefits. It presents you in the best light. It convinces the employer that you have what it takes to be successful in this new position or career.

It is so pleasing to the eye that the reader is enticed to pick it up and read it. It “whets the appetite,” stimulates interest in meeting you and learning more about you. It inspires the prospective employer to pick up the phone and ask you to come in for an interview.

I would recommend this series of articles to anyone looking for a job change or career change.

Part two of the series says that resumes are scanned, not read. I’ll agree with that point completely. I generally spend less than 15 seconds with each resume that I receive on the first pass. If nothing in the resume grabs my eye, I throw it away. If something catches my eye, I put it in a pile of resumes to follow up on later.

Parts three and four give a lot of great tips on writing a resume, some of them are especially powerful:

  • To write an effective resume, you have to learn how to write powerful but subtle advertising copy.
  • If you are applying for several different positions, you should adapt your resume to each one.
  • The resume is visually enticing, a work of art.
  • All the basic, expected information is included.
  • A resume should be targeted to your goal, to the ideal next step in your career.
  • Shorter is ususally better.
  • Telephone number that will be answered. (I’d add that your email address better be a good one that won’t bounce too.)

Part five covers ‘choosing the right job’ and is an advertisement for Rockport’s services, and part six is a great list of power words that should be used over other passive words that might crop up in your resume.

More Lessons for the Job Seeker

This post is a follow up to my original Some lessons for the Job Seeker post from August of 2003.

I’ve been interviewing to fill a vacant position in my sales organization over the past few months. The position has been advertised for about two months now. I’ve received about 100 resumes and have personally screened every single one of them. Something I’ve found frustrating and interesting at the same time is that 95% of the resumes I’ve received tell me about people that don’t have all of the requirements for the job opening as posted in the advertisement.

You know what that tells me? Lots of people aren’t qualified for the jobs that are being created out there. Lots. That, or the people I really want aren’t a) hearing/reading about the job opening I have or b) aren’t interested in the position. Or, very possibly (probably most likely) I’m asking for too qualified an applicant than I’ll get from an advertisement. I probably really need a personal reference to get the ‘perfect applicant’. Either way, the result is the same for the job seekers who have been sending me their resumes. 95% of them are all equal in my eyes. They aren’t fully qualified, but some of them have better qualifications (on their resume) than others.

So, I’ve been doing a lot of phone interviews. I’ve probably called 50% of the applicants to the position.

I’m also doing a lot of in-person interviews, because I need to see and talk to the people that are interviewing for the outside sales position I have open. I need to talk to them so I can fully explain the job, the company and the oppotunity I have for them. I generally spend and hour and a half with the promising interviewees and less than 30 minutes with the ones I can tell aren’t going to make the final cut. I’ve learned a few things and hope me passing them on here will help someone:

When interviewing for a sales position specifically, and for just about any position, keep these ideas in mind.:

1. Bring a copy of your resume to the interview. Bring 2 or 3 if you can, just to be safe.

Print out your resume on the nice pretty paper you want to use (though honestly if the paper is white and good quality, I’ll like the paper better than if it’s beige or pink or has ruffles), all formatted in the format you’d like it to be seen in, and bring it to the interview for me.

All but 2 of the resumes I’ve received from applicants have come in through some-sort of online application. Either emailed directly to me, or forwarded through a job-board. None of the resumes coming through an electronic application system are presented well. They’re readable, yes, but they look like crap, and span two or three pages when printed from Outlook. Sometimes the characters in the resumes weren’t ASCII text, so the pretty bullets the person used in Microsoft Word got translated to question marks when copied and pasted into a form online and then emailed to me, the person responsible for hiring. So, those applicants that bring me a nice pretty resume and give it to me at the beginning of the interview always get a leg up on the other applicants for at least 5 minutes. It shows me that they care about the impression they make on me. That’s important in sales (and in most other jobs).

2. Dress Sharply.

I’ve said this before, but wear a damned suit if you a guy or nice business attire if your a woman. I don’t care what the job is, it almost never hurts to over-dress for a situation, but almost always hurts to under-dress. I personally wear a suit to the office every day, and if I’m wearing one when I shake an applicants hand, and they’re not even wearing a tie, it immediately makes them feel badly. I’ve had two applicants tell me “I honestly wish I’d have dressed up more for this interview” while in the interview with me. I don’t make an issue of the situation or their dress in the interview, but in my head, when they’ve said that my first thought was “Well, then why the fuck didn’t you dress better?”

Dress up for that hour folks, it can’t hurt.

3. Ask plenty of questions, or at least ask really damn good ones.

People that aren’t good at interviewing will talk a lot. I’ve caught myself talking waaay too much in interviews. I’ve let the interviewee take control of the interview, and that helps elevate the interviewee in my mind. Take your cues from the person interviewing you (if they don’t like a lot of questions, don’t ask too many, but ask good ones. Here’s the scenario I’m in as a hiring manager: I’ve interviewed 25 good applicants in person. I can honestly only remember two of the interviews right this second without my notes.

Those two applicants too control of the interview (as much as they could) and asked a lot of really good questions. I remember them for two reasons: a) I am looking hire someone with good in-person sales skills and b) I feel like I need to know more about those two people so I can decide which one I want to hire. The other 23 applicants I’ve interviewed in person don’t stand out enough in my minds for some reason, and I have to believe it’s because they didn’t ask enough questions to know if they wanted (or could do) the job I need done or they didn’t ask the right ones.

“Needs analysis” is a big part of consultative selling (which is what I like to see in my employees that are in sales) and those two applicants did it well.

4. Be enthusiastic

I’ve interviewed two people in person that sounded great on the phone, but turned in to duds in person. I understand being nervous. I’ve been there (all of us have). I can empathize with people that might not be at the top of their game during the interview (we’ve all had bad sales calls). Waht I can’t accept is pure apathy. I can’t accept or enjoy someone that doesn’t seem interested in the job during the interview and then ask for the job at the end of the interview.

In sales (which is what every interview is) you have to know when to ‘ask the customer to buy’. In an interview that step is the “I really want this job” statement from the applicant. It’s the pistachio in the ice-cream. If you act like melted ice-cream during a 30-45 minute interview and then all of the sudden throw a pistachio at me, I’ll probably just spit it out, because the ice-cream was mushy. Act like you’re interested even if you’re not. I’m the one with the job to offer and you’re the one looking. Act like you’re interested in it and you might get the offer. If you don’t act interested, you won’t.

5. Be prepared for a second interview. Don’t reschedule it after it’s scheduled.

I want to hire the right person the first time I fill a position. So, I’m going to have a second interview with the truly qualified applicants. I’m going to have someone else interview them for me… maybe role-play a sales call… maybe just come in and say hi. It’s going to happen. If you want the job, don’t re-schedule the second interview. That’s the one where you’ll get the job offer (it might not happen until the third or fourth interview).

If you reschedule the second interview, where I’ve got two other people lined up to talk to you, you’re hurting your chances. Not with me, but with those two other people that might be talking to you. They’ll probably remember that you bailed on the first one (for them) and their time is probably very valuable to them. Don’t give them a reason to doubt that you know that, especially for a sales job. They’ll think that’s how you’ll treat clients.

6. Don’t try to change the job before you have it.

If the job doesn’t sound like something you want to do, ask more questions to be sure that your impressions are correct. If the job truly sounds like a wrong fit, say so. If you want to do something other than what’s being described and detailed for you, say so in the interview. That position may be open somewhere else, but don’t try to change the position that’s being discuss into something else in the interview. If you’re looking for a career path (let’s say the job opening is for an entry-level position and you’re seeking something that requires more experience, or that you need more pay, say so, but also be prepared for an answer like: I’m sorry, that’s not what we’re hiring for right now, and then make up your mind about the job that’s offered to you, if it’s ever offered). Don’t change the job in to what you want it to be, take the job for what it is, or don’t take it.

7. Be ready to pass a thorough background check.

I won’t go in to too much detail here, but, more and more companies are running complete background checks: drug tests, driving record checks, credit history checks, resume detail verification, and reference checking are all things that you might have to go through after you’re offered a job and before you can start working. Some companies will allow one or two discretionary ‘problems’ to go through the HR department with an “ok to hire” stamp, but some times they can’t. If the job requires driving, have a clean driving record. If it requires handling cash, have a good credit history. If you don’t, give it your best shot, but, if you can, keep your background clean.

Note to Job Seekers – email address tip

If you’re applying to a job, please keep the email account you’re using to collect responses to your application clean, so you can receive emails from the hiring manager. The fact that I got this message twice from the same candidate’s two different yahoo accounts listed in their resume just took that candidate off my list:

Your message was rejected by mx2.mail.yahoo.com for the following reason:
   delivery error: dd Sorry, your message to xxx@yahoo.com cannot be delivered. This account is over quota. – mta118.mail.sc5.yahoo.com

Keep your email account cleaned out when applying for a job.

Some lessons for the Job Seeker

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been interviewing candidates for an open position in my organization. I’ve learned a lot as this is my first time to really hire someone into an organization. Here are a few thoughts and suggestions for those looking for a job and interviewing right now:

1. Make sure that you ask for an offer.

When you take the time to interview with a company for an open position that you know they are hiring for, ask for an offer. Make sure when you leave the interviewer’s office that that person knows that you want the job. If that person doesn’t know you want the job, then they might offer it to someone else that has stated an interest in receiving an offer.

There should not be a doubt in the interviewers mind about your wanting the job, even if you’re not sure you want the job… if you don’t express an interest in receiving an offer, then you likely won’t get one, and you might decide after the interview that you really do want that job.

Get as many offers as you can, then pick the best offer/job for you, don’t leave an offer on the table because you aren’t sure you want the job during the interview.

Ask for an offer at the end of your interview.

2. Wear a sharp outfit to the interview.

First impressions are a bitch. I don’t care what the corporate attire at the company you’re interviewing at is, wear a sharp outfit to the first interview. It’s always better to be over-dressed and impress the interviewer than to be under-dressed and make the wrong impression on the interviewer.

If you’re a guy, this means wear a suit and tie. The days of wearing shorts and sandals to most offices is over, and if the office you’re interviewing at has a relaxed dress code, it’s better to impress with a sharp suit than to look like a lazy person, or someone who doesn’t think they need to dress nicely.

If you’re a woman, wear sharp business attire. Don’t show up in a skirt that might be perceived as too short, or with your mid-riff showing. It’s just not professional.

If you’re interviewing for a blue collar job, wear the best outfit you have if its not a suit and try to look as impressive as you can. Wear a pair of khakis and a jacket if you think it’s appropriate.

Over-dressed is better than under-dressed. Wear a sharp outfit.

3. Answer questions honestly.

If an interviewer asks a question, take a second to think about your answer, and then answer the question succintly. Don’t blab on and on, and stay on topic. Be honest. If you’re not honest and succint with your answer, you’ll likely not be happy in the job if you’re offered the position. And if you bull-shit an answer and can’t back it up after being on the job, you’ll likely be in the position for a very short amount of time.

4. Take time to write a cover-letter.

And don’t write a bullshit two paragraph form letter. I received over 100 resumes for the position that I’m interviewing for. Know what my first filter was:

No cover letter = trashed resume.

Did I perhaps lose a good candidate? Maybe, but you know what? I still have 10 really good candidates that I’m having to weigh each other against.

update: Read Joel’s thoughts on cover letters for a good example of why it’s important to have a good cover letter

Write a good thoughtful cover-letter.

5. If you want the job, apply for it.

Even if you think you’re not 100% qualified, and you want the job, apply for it. It can’t hurt your chances. I have two main qualifications that I wanted in the candidates I was planning on interviewing. Know how many people had those two qualifications? One. One out of 100. So guess what? I called everyone that had at least one of those two big qualifications and have interviewed in-person 10 of those people I called. (after I trashed the ones without cover letters, of course).

6. Research the company a little.

When you apply for a job, assume that you might get a phone call from the hiring manager, or the HR screener. Have a little folder that you keep with you on all of the jobs you want. In that folder, have a quick summary sheet of the research you’ve done on the company (and make sure you’ve done at least a cursory glance at the organization’s website or some other document so you can ask a few questions about the company or the position).

I called one candidate, and they said “You know, I really don’t even remember sending in my resume for that position. What company are you with again?”

That phone interview lasted less than 5 minutes after that statement… Sorry, I wasn’t interested at that point anymore.

7. The interviewer might not know what they’re doing

Most people interviewing to hire someone aren’t trained at it, so keep that in mind. Make sure that the interviewer knows a) why you want the job, b) what sets you apart from all the other candidates they might be looking at c) that you want to receive an offer and d) what sort of impact you can make in the open position. If they aren’t asking you the ‘buy questions’ like “What would it take to get you on board here?” ask them the buy questions. Once you get to those questions, your likely-hood of getting an offer goes up dramatically.

If you’re looking to get a job, follow these steps:

1. Apply for lots of jobs
2. Ask for an in-person interview if you get a phone interview
3. Ask for an offer at the in-person interview
4. Get as many offers as you can, then pick the job you want.

I learned that and many more tips from reading the Knock ’em Dead series by Martin Yates. I’d recommend that to anyone out there looking for a new job. I’d also recommend 101 Great Answers to the Toughest Interview Questions as an interview primer, if you need it, but most of what you’ll need is in Knock ’em Dead.

Hopefully, I’ll be making an offer to a future employee next week.

updated April 2004: I just posted More lessons for the Job Seeker as a follow up to this post.