So here are five “never-fails” pieces of advice – from job-seeking mindset to nailing the interview – that will make a difference in how you are perceived by recruiters… and WILL help you get a job or internship!
Realize This is a Competition
Job seeking has always been you against someone else. So, put your game face on… and compete! And not just before the interview, or when you get excited about a specific opportunity – but throughout your entire job search.
In our current economy, it isn’t just you against a couple peers… it’s you against Boomers laid off two years ago willing to take a pay cut; former Gen X managers waiting their turn for the right job; and a horde of recent graduates desperate to enter the workforce (and avoid moving back with their parents). Maybe five years ago you were competing against five people similar to you. Now, you’re up against against 20, 50… maybe 100 just-as-qualified-as-you applicants, or more.
Also, take some pressure off yourself by knowing this: you do NOT have to be perfect. Just like every other competition: to win, you only have to be a little better than the person you’re competing against. Attempts to be perfect are paralyzing – and unproductive.
Personalize EVERY Resume Sent
This is one of those advice gems you hear all the time. And yet, about 75% of the resumes we receive at YouTern are generic, boring documents that fail to show the sender did any homework – and is instead just going through the motions.
EVERY resume you send should contain keywords and phrases from the job description and company website. EVERY resume should summarize how you are a “must interview” candidate by summarizing how your soft skills match those sought by that employer. EVERY cover letter you send should contain the recruiter’s name.
If you don’t take this simple advice – and send out old-school, photocopied, generic resumes… you’re not competing, and won’t win.
Establish Your Strengths: Value Proposition
We know we need a job or internship. So we get a LinkedIn profile, scrub our Facebook pages and blast out resumes – even before we know what makes us employable. In many cases, we can’t even answer “Why should I hire you?”
Fix that problem – and rise above your job seeking competition – by clearly articulating what makes you the right candidate. Start with balancing the employers’ needs with your skill set and experience… What problem are they trying to fix? What about your background makes you uniquely qualified to fix that problem? How will you walk in – from day one – and OWN the challenge?
Candidates who walk in with this attitude get noticed. More important, they get hired.
Minimize Your Weaknesses: Reduce Risk
We’ve all been there. We need to ask for something – but we know the person we’re asking is going to say “no”. So, we start our pitch with this gem: “Before you say no, let me say this…”
This is EXACTLY the approach you want to take in your job search!
In your mind, you probably already know why you’re going to get a “no”. So… make a list. Write down the top five or six reasons why the recruiter may reject you. Maybe it’s a lack of experience. Perhaps you don’t have all of the “requirements” specified in the job description. Maybe the employer needs someone now… and you’ll be in school a while longer.
Whatever the reasons for the impending “no”… write an answer; wordsmith until it makes perfect sense – and then practice, practice, practice until you can articulate the answer – in your cover letter, LinkedIn profile or within your resume – with humble confidence.
Your goal here: just like a good salesman or entrepreneur would before giving a pitch, counter the recruiter’s objection – before they even bring it up!
Network with Specific Companies (and Influencers)
One of the few pieces of advice every career expert agrees on: networking is a huge key to a successful job search. However, almost nobody does networking for job searches right. We get on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and just start blabbing. No focus. No purpose. Just “blah, blah, blah”.
Try this instead: Make a list of the top ten companies you’d like to work for, right now. Then, just short of being considered a stalker (no one hires stalkers!)… network with those who already work for, or influence, that company. Seek out the decision makers – and build solid, organic relationships!
How? Follow them on Twitter – and perhaps join their industry twitter chats. Like their Facebook page – and become a champion of their product, service and mission. Join their LinkedIn Group – and be active. Comment on the companies’ blogs. Volunteer for charity events they’re sponsoring or hosting. The list of possibilities goes on – and each just may get your foot on the right side of the door.
Getting 10,000 followers on Twitter and increasing your likes on Facebook by 100 in a week is great. Getting yourself known by ONE influencer that matters is gold-plated epic!
Be one of the few who incorporates this advice into to your strategy – and just see just how amazing your job search becomes!
About the Author: A passionate supporter of Gen Y talent, CEO and Founder of YouTern Mark Babbitt is a serial entrepreneur and mentor. Mark has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Mashable, Forbes and Under30CEO regarding internships, higher education’s role in preparing emerging talent for the workforce and career development. Recently, Mark was honored to be named to GenJuice’s list of “Top 100 Most Desirable Mentors”. You can contact Mark via email or on Twitter.