I talked with two clients recently who were hired to dream jobs. In both cases, the client hesitated before applying for the position. Steve wanted a position in Europe. However, his heart dropped when he saw the requirements: MBA and second language. Steve had a BA and only spoke English. Then he read the position again and felt that no one could be more qualified based on his experience and achievements. He took a chance and was rewarded with his dream job. Mary works in human services as a counselor. She's performed managerial duties, but never held the title of manager. We wrote her resume to emphasize her roles that required leadership and decision making. Again, Mary didn't think she'd get the job. She applied, went through four interviews, and received an offer. If you think you capable of doing a job, don't be afraid to apply. The trick to getting the job is to show how you are qualified. You need to do this in your resume and during interviews. Employers will look beyond their requirements if you show them why you're the right person. Don't be afraid to the chance. That's the only way to find your dream job.
“What can you do for me?”
That’s what employers really want to know when they are hiring a new employee. Too often job seekers worry so much about what they’ve done – and haven’t done – in the past that they don’t answer the employer’s big question. In writing your resume and presenting yourself at an interview, stay focused on what the employer needs. How do you know what the employer needs? Look carefully at the job post, and adapt your resume to the requirements and qualifications. Before going on an interview, look at the job post again. Ask yourself: Why will I be an asset to the company? Show how your strengths will make you the best candidate. No employer will hire you just because of what you did in the past. They will hire you because of what you can do for them. Answer the question:
“What can you do for me?”
In recent months several clients have asked me what they should do when an interviewer asks to be “walked” through a resume. There are two ways to address this request. The worst strategy is to start with your current job and go backward. This takes you away from recent experience or education that qualifies you for the position you are seeking. It is better to move from least recent to most recent experiences. The strongest type of response would not end with your current job or most recent degree. Instead, you would show how you are prepared to do the job you are interviewing for. Walk the interviewer into a place where she will want to offer you a job.
A client came to see me just before Christmas. He was a college sophomore looking for an internship. I asked where he wanted to be an intern. Without hesitating, he rattle off the three top companies in the field where he wants to work. He called me today to say that he’ll begin an internship with one of those companies this May. How did he do it? He studied the market and demonstrated that he had what the company was looking for. More importantly, he had enough faith in himself to try. Yes, college students and recent grads are in a tough job market. However, those who are smart in how they look for work can still be very successful. The first step is to look in the mirror and tell yourself: I can do it.
I agree with most career experts that networking is the best way to look for a job. Networking can open doors to jobs that are not advertised. On the other hand, for every job attained by networking 1.5-2 jobs are found by applying to jobs posted online. There is a myth that such jobs aren’t real. If that were true, companies like Indeed, Monster, and CareerBuilder would not exist. The key to a good job search is to have multiple ways of looking for work. Start with network and applying to jobs online. I also recommend targeting specific companies that fit your goals and skills. If you’re a high income/high skill worker, it might be prudent to add recruiters to your list. Whatever methods you use, keep your job search forward and moving forward. Nothing beats persistence.
Writing in Daily Kos, Laura Clawson examines the plight of temporary workers. In many cases, especially if the worker is employed in a factory, a temp job will pay less, be more dangerous, and not be temporary. Temp workers are performing the same tasks as full-time employees with few being on hired to full-time status. Some of these jobs pay as little as $10 per hour. As the U.S. came out of previous recessions, the rise of contract work preceded increased hiring. Now,employer leverage temp workers as a way to hold down labor costs while getting the same level of productivity. Workers have low pay, few benefits, and no security. If this is the way manufacturing will come back to America, it might be better if this type of job stay overseas.
I often warn clients that they will see fewer and fewer jobs during the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. That’s the bad news. The good news is that your competition, other job seekers, are less likely to be looking for work. When you see a job that interests you over the next few weeks, apply for it as quickly as possible. Some employers need new workers now, and they will hire as soon as possible. Expect to see fewer job posts over the next four to six weeks, but keep looking and applying. You might find a new job under your Christmas tree.
I met a pleasant young man at a neighborhood business. I asked him about the owner whom I had not seen in a while. The young man said, “He’s still here. I really like him because he gave me this job.” Since the young man was pleasant, I didn’t want to confront him, but his thinking is not clear: No business owner “gives” a job. No job is a gift.
A business hires because it needs people to work. The goal is to hire the best employee at the lowest wage. As we’ve seen so often over the last 30 years, companies cut employees whose work is not needed. Offshoring and automation have killed millions of American jobs. It’s no more fair to say those jobs were “stolen” than that they were “given.”
Too often we personalize relationships in a way that confuses them. I have clients who talk about “my” job in a way that increases the pain of job loss and hinders the ability to move forward. Treat a job as what it is, a relationship in which you are trading your skill, time, and effort for a wage. It’s fine to appreciate personal relationships with co-workers, including supervisors. But it’s career-deadly to think about your job in the wrong perspective. Know that every employee is a cost to an employer. If that cost can be lessened or eliminated, any smart business owner will do so. It’s not personal. It’s not about loyalty. Workers need to take the same attitude and keep looking for the best career opportunity.
Clients will frequently tell me they want a job with stability. I caution that this goal might not be realistic or good for their careers. In a time of random layoffs and cost cutting, a job can end at any time. I’ve had clients whose bosses convinced them that the operation was stable only to have a company or division shut down six months later. There is no reason to expect any position to be stable.
Nor should you want it to be. Generally speaking, people who stay in the same job five years or more start to go flat or negative in salary. During a time when raises are low or non-existent, the best way to get ahead is look for new opportunity. Why should you stay at a job a year, if another employer will give you a better deal? Loyalty? Few employers have shown any loyalty over the last three decades. When workers can be cut, they are let go without any mercy. Employees need to take the same attitude. For most people, the only way to get a decent raise is to find a new employer.
I often cite Seth Godin, who’s one of my favorite writers and thinkers. In his book, The Dip¸ Godin explores how winners know how to quit the things that hold them back from moving forward. The New Yorker has published a short essay by Adrian Cardenas, who last played in the Chicago Cubs organization. He played in 45 games for the Cubs in 2012. Cardenas is eloquent in explaining why he left the big leagues to focus on being a student.
I was especially impressed by his confession that money took away from the joy of the game. That’s a hard confession to make. Most of us would kill to make the minimum big league salary. Baseball as a business was not what Cardenas, a student at New York University, wanted. Leaving the sport is his first step to a new life. May he find happiness.
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