Job hunting is tough. It’s even tougher in a rough economy. Don’t let that get you down. There are many different ways you can boost your chances to landing your next gig by going above and beyond. Here are a few steps to take to hear the fantastic phrase, “You’re hired!”
1.) Don’t think just because you don’t have a job yet, you don’t need to do work.
I’ve heard it countless times. “I’m not going to work too hard, because it’s just an interview and I’m not getting paid for it.”
If that’s your mindset, then get comfortable on the couch – you’ll be there for a while. With a down economy, employers can pick and choose from numerous applicants for each position they post. What makes you stand apart from the 20+ other people who applied for your position?
Motivation. Persistence. Putting yourself in the best light possible.
No matter what job you are interviewing for, never go to the interview empty-handed. Always bring, at the very least, a copy of your resume and a cover letter specific to that job. If you really want to stand out, also bring some letters of recommendation from past co-workers, employers and educators, along with some proof of your work.
For example, if you were a cashier at the grocery store, and your item-swipe time was the fastest in the store, make sure to write that down, along with other ways you were a great employee, on a “Fast Facts” sheet.
The “Fast Facts” sheet is a boiled down version of your resume. It’s quick one-liners only focusing on your achievements. At the top of the page, you can put your name, address and contact information. Keep “Fast Facts” down to one page only.
Also, don’t just drop the information off and run. At the end of the interview, or when it seems an appropriate time to do so, open up your portfolio and explain what each piece of information is. This way, you’re able to show the employer the thought-process behind why you chose the information you did to leave with them.
2.) Customized things sell quickly for a reason.
Admit it, you have at least one or two items in your house with your initials on them, or maybe a key chain with your first name engraved into it. Things like this are unique to us so they attract us more than other things that just about anyone can have.
The same goes for that portfolio of your resume, cover letter, references and previous work that you’re bringing in to an interview. Do not, I repeat, do NOT, bring in the same exact cover letter to every job. Generic cover letters are the death of the job-hunting experience.
If you take an extra five minutes to customize your cover letter, you’ll find that many more employers will be interested in you. The cover letter will be unique to them – just like that initial binder you had in third grade.
3.) Follow up, or be ready for the let down.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had friends so excited after a job interview, then a week goes by, only find them deflated and telling me how upset they were not to hear back yet.
My first question is, “Have you followed up with them?”
If they say “no,” then I automatically lose all pity.
If you do not follow up with an employer after an interview, then really, you don’t want the job. Following up can leave a fantastic impression on the interviewer, even if the interview was possibly a hit or miss.
The bottom line is employers are busy. Even if they need to fill the job right away, they also have a lot of other things to do, too. So while a week may seem like a long time to you, it went by in the blink of an eye for them. Be sure to keep yourself on the top of their mind with a follow up about once a week until you hear their final decision.
Be sure to get the interviewer’s contact information at the end of the interview. It can be a phone number, e-mail address or physical address.
When you follow up, know what you’re going to say. If you’re calling the person, be sure to have a few bullet points written down in front of you before you dial their number. Also, be sure to keep it simple, short and sweet.
An e-mail is another option to follow up with. Again, only keep the e-mail the four, maybe five sentences at most. Get the point, and let them know how much you appreciated their time.
My personal favorite is the hand-written note delivered by snail mail. I know, I know. Archaic. But there’s something about receiving a card in the mail that isn’t a bill or blatant advertisement that makes it stand out in your mind.