Do you remember how just a few years ago, the job market was a total debacle? After the economic downturn of 2018, millennials who were just either entering college or had recently graduated got hit hard. Jobs were scarce, resumes and degrees were worthless. People went back to living with their parents while the parents fought hard to keep their homes. Well, 2018, saw a huge improvement. The numbers show that 80 percent of companies surveyed by career site plan on hiring new college grads this year. At 3.7 percent, the national unemployment rate is certainly not frightening. Personally, I’ve seen friends and colleagues received huge raises and opportunities by simply moving to another employer. In another word, the job market is currently hot.
Needless to say, there are people applying for jobs and going through countless interview processes in the US. You might find yourself in that position soon or later. Over the years, I’ve learned and have been taught techniques that enhance my chances of getting a job offer. I’ve applied and refined them each time, evaluating the best practices that should be kept in any employee’s back pocket. It is not rocket science and it does not have to be. It simply involves making the effort of being aware of our actions, some people skills, some anticipation and going the extra mile. I must also add here, not being weird.
Let’s start with what could be considered inappropriate in an interview process or detrimental to your success. So many applicants make these mistakes without realizing that they’re losing on dozens of opportunities.
When we are looking for a new job, the common denominator is creating a resume. In general, this is the first and easiest step. However, there is a caveat. The mistake that so many applicants make and the one I’ve certainly made in the past is submitting my unedited resume to every job application I came across that matched my skills. The same happened with cover letters. Applying for jobs that way is like assuming that a flathead screwdriver is the right tool to use with any screw. Obviously, it’s not. Each job is unique and although it may be related to your industry and your current position, it is important to tailor your resume to the job description.
Customizing your resume is the first step in the process. Although some might think submitting it to job postings online is the logical next step, I recommend thinking outside of the box. On average, corporate job openings attract more than 200 resumes and only four to six candidates will be interviewed. Your resume will likely be scanned by a recruiter for less than ten minutes. Needless to say, making it through the stack of applications is not guaranteed. From experience, networking is the most effective way to land a job. It allows you to skip several layers of the application process, reaching a recruiter or a hiring manager directly. In today’s world, even if your networking skills are not the best, tools such as LinkedIn enable anyone to maximize their chances. Yes, you should apply for jobs online but first, think of ways you could open doors for yourself. However, before we move to the next bad practice, networking does not mean asking your friends, colleagues and former colleagues inappropriate references. It doesn’t mean stalking the job poster, adding them on LinkedIn and sending them your resume without their permission. Networking requires some tact. Be cautious of your actions. Being rude and/or pushy will get you nowhere.
You’ve applied to the job, you’ve gone through the phone interview and screenings and you’ve invited for an in-person interview. Congratulations, you’ve made it through the pack and risen above many other candidates. It’s your time to shine and to make a lasting impression. Showing up at 9:55 when your appointment is at 10 will certainly not help you. Arriving 15 to 20 minutes early is ideal. In fact, going through elevators, check-ins and Executive Assistants may take up 10 minutes of your time. On the opposite side, do not announce yourself 30 minutes before your appointment.
During your interview, your posture will determine your success. Your credentials and your experience are only a small ingredient to you being offered the job. How you impress your interlocutor will be the major influence on the final decision. This involves your attire, your demeanor, your handshake, your facial expressions, your ability to articulate your answers and relate them to the job. Keep in mind, a job interview is not a Q&A, it is a conversation. As much as you prepare to answer questions, be inquisitive as well. Get to know your interviewer, ask questions about the job but most importantly about the company culture. You will be asked if you have any questions. This is not the time to hesitate!
When asking questions to your interviewers at the first in person interview, the worst mistake you could make is inquire about PTO and other benefits. Unless it’s brought up, stay away from those topics. Unless you live three hours away and it is obvious that commuting daily is not practical, don’t ask about remote-work accommodations.
I raised here a few practices that could put a damper on your chances of receiving a job offer. Next, in the following article, we will review what I believe could enhance your chances of getting that job you want.