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Hey people. This isn't your dad's job market, which means that your parents' ways of getting a job just aren't going to cut it. Here's a survival guide for recent and not-so-recent grads on how to land a job.
You heard me. Don't listen. Not to everyone. But stop listening to the jobs numbers. Every pundit on the planet is analyzing and over-analyzing every tick in the number of jobs lost, jobs created, number of new applications for unemployment, whether those numbers are going up or down... Who cares? You shouldn't. So don't listen. Companies actually are still hiring. It's just that the way they're doing the hiring has changed. You've probably seen this. Perhaps you've got a friend who's landed a job working for her boyfriend's uncle. Or, a cousin who's now working for his former summer camp counselor. The truth is that the way people get jobs nowadays is completely different than it used to be. In fact, according to recent studies, 50 percent of new hires come from referral, and 25 percent come from employees' social networks. That means that over 75 percent of new hires come from networking or a direct recommendation and introduction. If this is true, then it is time for you to put those social (on and off-line) networks to work for you and get yourself out there.
Try to ignore all of the griping about "how bad it is out there." It's only bad if you decide it's bad. So stop complaining, turn off the TV, video game console, stop texting, and get a handle on your future. Oh, and remember, don't listen.
There is a hashtag trending on Twitter that uses a four-letter word (#expletiveWashington) and another #WhereAreTheJobs. Americans are fed up with Washington posturing. Between the Debt Crisis, the downgrading of U.S. debt and the tanking of the stock market, working Americans are disgusted that Congress merely tipped a hat toward job creation and then gave themselves a five-week vacation. We're fed up. And rightly so if you ask me. So what should you, the job seeker, do? I say ignore them. And here's why.
Whatever scenarios end up playing out in Washington and whatever roller-coaster plays out on Wall Street, the fact is that it is going to have little effect on you, at least for the near term. No amount of deals, tax hikes, tax cuts, deficit reduction, regulation, debt ratings downgrade and market fluctuation are going to drive a short-term net effect of motivating businesses to create new positions, and hire more people. In fact, it might do just the opposite. So I say, don't hold your breath.
Chances are that this "trickle down" economic approach is unlikely to make "Help Wanted" signs suddenly go up all over the city. Not today. Not tomorrow.
So stop listening when the folks in Washington say be patient, the jobs are coming. Instead, turn away from the rhetoric and look straight in the mirror. You'll discover that the person looking back at you is the only person who is going to help get you back to work any time soon. It's time for all of us to grab our bootstraps and get going.
Our country has always been about staking claims. Claims were staked during the Louisiana Expansion, the California Gold Rush, and in 1969 when we placed an American flag on the Moon. Just recently, Walt Disney Studios staked a claim by trademarking "Seal Team 6," the Navy team that brought down Osama bin Laden. The funny thing about claim-staking is that we rarely do it for ourselves.
But here's something every job seeker should know. Careers don't just happen. They are made. And if you don't stake a Claim in Your Own Career, believe me, no one else will.
This incredibly simple piece of advice is actually not that simple. Imagine that you are a marathon runner, or a Mount Everest climber or a very determined dieter. All of the individuals have made a strong commitment to doing something with determination and tons of effort. No one ever said it was easy to get to the top of Everest. The same can be said of building a career. No matter how much hoping you do, your school's career counselors and your folks aren't going to do it for you.
It is up to you to take responsibility for your future. So when you think you're looking for a job "all day long," count up how many hours you spent NOT looking for a job. My guess is you're not as committed as you think you are.
Some of the most iconic branding in the world sits on the back of every car on the road. Those shiny metal words and symbols hold meaning for us. When you see the word Volvo, you immediate think "safety" or, if from a younger generation, "boring." The four interlocking rings of Audi say superior engineering, and the word Prius just makes you feel like you're doing something good for the environment. That's because the car companies have figured out how to make you think and feel a certain way about them.
You need to be a car. Well, not exactly. But you do need to understand who you are and what you want to be in the world. Because getting a job is about selling yourself. And by being clear about what you can offer to hiring managers, you will be able to get people to buy into the brand that is you.
One way to figure out what you want to do, and align that with what you're good at is to identify what passions drive you to get out of bed in the morning, what interests captivate your attention and what skills you have to offer. I call the place where these three overlapping circles intersect the Sweet Spot (see diagram). Your Sweet Spot can help you discover the essence of your brand, and is an essential component of differentiating yourself from other hungry job seekers.
If you want to surf, you better go where there are good waves. And if you don't know any good surf spots, chances are you'd find some other surfers and ask them how to find the cool spots.
Now apply this thinking to your job search. If you want to make movies, go to the places where people make movies. If you want to make cool software, you should find places where people are making cool software.
This logic seems simple, but it's not how most people think about looking for a job. Most people start by poring through job sites seeking out open opportunities that sort-of-maybe-kind-of fit their skills. Next, so relieved to have found a potential job match, they contort themselves into believing that they'd be happy working at this particular company, even if the company is a widget company and the job seeker intensely dislikes widgets. Unfortunately, that's how desperate some people feel about their job prospects.
I want you to Think Backward. What if instead of looking for job listings first, and companies second, you begin looking for companies first, and jobs second. This seemingly backward thinking works for getting into good surf, why can't it work for finding a good job?
Here's how it works. Instead of using sites like Monster.com or Idealist.org to look for job openings, use these sites to explore company profiles and see what kinds of companies are out there. See if you can find organizations that are doing things that get you really excited. Don't worry if any jobs exist right now. That's not the point. The point is to discover what makes you tick. This process, which up-ends that traditional way of job searching, is something I call Reverse Engineering the Job Market. Here's the basic idea.
If you answer yes to some of these questions, you're ready for your next tip.
Do you love your iPod, IPhone or Mac? Or do you just love going into the Apple store 'cuz it's so cool? Apple computer has captivated all of us with its inventions. In his recent book, Apple's former chief evangelist, Guy Kawasaki, talks about the three pillars of Enchantment: likability, trustworthiness and a great cause.
Most people think that 7 is the luckiest number. I've no doubt you'll change your lucky number once you learn to Network by 5's. When I was a bright-eyed, freshly minted grad, I moved to L.A. to make it in Hollywood. Through a random meeting in a busy lobby, to a phone interview, to an in-person sitdown, I found myself interviewing for a job that wasn't the right fit. Instead of giving up, this woman and I started chatting, using some good, enchanting techniques (a shared love of sports or travel can be a great start), and we ended up deciding to be friends. I suddenly had an "in" person.
I turned to my new friend and said, "I'm new in town and don't know anyone, or what the jobs actually are out there. Do you think that you might have five friends who'd be willing to talk to me for five minutes about what they do?" My new friend agreed and with each meeting I had, with each new person I met and befriended, I had another "in" person. By the time I had been in Hollywood for five weeks, I had met 54 people at studios around the city. When Disney called to ask me to come in for an interview for my dream job (as a director's assistant), they told me my resume had been submitted to the pile eleven times. No doubt they had come from all of my new friends. If you want to Network by 5's, here's what you should do:
In no time, you'll know scores of people doing the kind of work you want to be doing, and your job search will be on the fast track.
Aspirin is a great painkiller, and when a hiring manager is looking to bring on a new employee it is usually because the organization is feeling a bit of pain. It could be that someone left the company, there's too much work for the existing staff, or a new initiative needs some additional attention. Whatever the case, when you go in for a job interview, your job is to be like aspirin and make their pain go away. What exactly does that mean?
Imagine you're going in for a sales job and your responsibility will be to cover a certain territory selling a product. The best way for you show that interviewer that you are the right person for the job is to demonstrate your skills as a salesperson. No, I don't mean you should go into Crazy Eddie sales mode. But you can relay stories about past sales experience (perhaps you helped sell out all the tickets to a school fundraiser) or about your fearlessness in making cold calls. Believe me when I tell you that, just like you, your interviewer is looking to get the interview process over with and get back to work as soon as possible.
Interviewing can be hard and scary. It always feels like there's too much on the line and you're so nervous about landing the job that it can be hard to stay calm and focused on your interviewer's questions. Before the big day, research the company and your interviewer. Put yourself in their shoes and see if you can figure out some of the challenges they might face. And remember this important point: If you can make their work-related headaches go away, you're going to be a rock star in their eyes.
Finding a job is a full-time job. It can be exhausting and demoralizing. Honestly, it's easy to just want to crawl into bed and ignore the entire thing. Here's what I want you to do: Go see a movie. I don't care which one. Just go have some fun being distracted for 120 minutes in a dark movie theater. Give your brain, your ego, and your keyboard and mouse a rest. Remember that life is fun and you will, once you Stake Your Claim (No. 3), be on your feet.
To find out your score at the end of a round of golf, you have to stay on the course for the entire 18 holes. To find out your marathon time, you have to complete the 26.2 miles. And to land a job, especially one that you really want, you have to keep at it. No one ever said this would be easy. And as new grads enter into the toughest job market in the past 80 years, it takes a special something, an extra special kind of commitment and determination and willingness to try when others have given up. You may have finished your final exams, but this is the first test of your working life.
Find people to help you along the way and help you keep focused. My 85-year-old mentor is one of the people who keeps me on track. If you can't find a mentor, buddy up with a friend and hit the library or the local coffee shop together. Keep each other motivated, inspired (and caffeinated if necessary). Just don't lose hope. So... don't listen and just ignore Washington. If you do these things, you might never realize that the news out there is bleak.
The interview may be over, but your chance to make an impression is not. Here are 10 strategies to continue boosting your candidacy.
Leave no doubt in the interviewer's mind about where you stand. Ask for the job at meeting's end with a phrase such as, "I would really like to contribute to this company and am hoping you select me." Also, don't leave the room without a clear idea of what will happen next in the hiring process. Will select applicants be invited back to meet other people? By what date do they hope to fill the position? Such questions demonstrate enthusiasm for the job, and knowing the hirer's time frame will help keep you from panicking if a week has passed without a phone call.
Nobody wants to be a pest, but could your silence as days pass be misinterpreted as indifference? Avoid the guesswork by finding out before heading home what the employer prefers in terms of checking in. Lizandra Vega, author of "The Image of Success: Make a Great Impression and Land the Job You Want," suggests asking the recruiter about her preferred method of follow-up communication and whether it would be OK to touch base again.
If you tell the interviewer you'll send a list of references tomorrow morning, make sure you do it. Keeping your word and answering requests in a timely manner speaks volumes about the type of employee you might be.
If an interviewer requests that you follow up by phone in a week, respect her wishes. Calling the next day can be construed as pushy and desperate.
A positive, nonintrusive way to stay on an employer's mind is to send a thank-you note. Vega recommends emailing one within 24 hours of the interview, then following up with a handwritten note that arrives one to three business days later.
This piece of communication is another chance for you to shine, so don't waste space with generalities. Ford R. Myers, a career coach and author of "Get the Job You Want, Even When No One's Hiring," recommends including specific references to each person you met and tying your accomplishments directly to the company's stated challenges. You also can use the letter to introduce achievements that didn't get discussed and to elaborate on interview answers that you felt lacked punch.
Another effective way to follow up is to act more like a consultant than an applicant. "During the interview, you learn a lot about a company's weaknesses and/or areas where the company wants to expand," states Linda Matias, president of CareerStrides.com and author of "201 Knockout Answers to Tough Interview Questions." "Consider creating a proposal on how you would address one of those areas. Doing so will demonstrate that you have the knowledge and also the enthusiasm to make a significant contribution."
Be prepared for additional interviews or follow-up phone calls by continuing to research the organization and the field. Gain new information about a topic brought up in conversation. Think of additional questions you'd like answered. These actions show the hirer that you didn't stop caring about the company after the interview was over.
Networking should never stop. "If you have contacts and connections with anyone who might influence the hiring decision, or who actually knows the interviewer, ask her to put a good word in for you," Myers says.
Finally, keep emotions in check and don't burn bridges if someone else gets hired. One never knows what the future might hold. The accepted candidate may not work out, or a different position may open up. "If you are rejected, the first thing you should do (ironically) is send a thank-you note," Myers says. "This will help distinguish you from other rejected candidates and put you in a positive light."