The world economy seems fairly stable and the unemployment rate is low but there are still millions of people who are looking for a job at any one time. Some are new, young job seekers who are looking for their first job while others are mid-life job hunters who either want to move forward or need to find a new place of employment.
Human Resource advisors offer a number of hints that can help job seekers find a job that will be both satisfying and rewarding.
Job hunting can be, by definition, demoralizing. Unless you have an amazing set of skills that makes you unique, the chances are that you’ll be turned down more often than not.
That’s why you have to push yourself to approach every new job interview with a fresh and optimistic outlook. Psych yourself up before each interview by telling yourself “I’ve accomplished a lot in my life, and I’m fully capable of accomplishing this” or “this will be hard, but I can do it.” Remind yourself – out loud if you need to – that if this job doesn’t pan out it doesn’t mean that your whole life is a failure.
Write down a list of your best qualities and read them aloud prior to each interview. This will help you to keep yourself motivated while you build up your confidence. This type of outlook will come through in your interviews and will impress the interviewers – if not enough to get you a job offer one time than certainly soon afterward.
Don’t apply for every job opening that you see. You’ll lose focus and start to feel desperate. Take more time on fewer applications and put your energies towards jobs that you feel will be a good fit for your skill set. Investigate the businesses at which you intend to interview so that you come to the interview knowing a bit of background and being able to ask good, concrete and knowledgeable questions.
Be honest about your shortcomings. Identify your strengths and your weaknesses and be honest about them, at least to yourself. When the question comes up in the interview (as it invariably will) that asks “What are your weaknesses?” be prepared to answer honestly but in a way that frames the weakness as a strength.
For instance, you might want to say that you don’t work well as a team member – but you don’t want to say that for a job offer that involves working on a team! You might say something like “I work best alone and that’s why I’m applying for this job – because you’re looking for someone who can take responsibility and work independently.”
You want to make sure that the weakness that you choose to discuss won’t interfere with the duties of the job in question. Again, this means that you have to have done your research so that you are knowledgeable about the company and about the job requirements.
There will always be competition and, while you shouldn’t obsess about competitors, you shouldn’t forget them either. You need to think about how you can differentiate yourself from other job seekers.
Make a list of your skills and experiences. Try to think about what’s unique about your background – special projects on which you worked, interesting conferences that you attended, papers that you presented, contacts that you have in your field, etc.
You want to demonstrate that you can make a difference. That your skills are a little different from others’. Be prepared to talk about your achievements and situations in which you stood out from the crowd. Was there a time that you solved a problem or navigated through a sticky situation? You don’t want to seem like you’re bragging but you do want the potential employer to realize that you’re someone special and that you can bring useful abilities to their company.
Passion and Purpose
Employers know that you’re interviewing because you need the salary. But if they get the impression that you have the ability to bring a sense of purpose to the job and can adopt the company’s mission as your passion, you’ll be more likely to receive the job offer.
It will also help you develop a connection to your work. You don’t want to feel like you’re looking only for a job that will put a roof over your head and food on the table. You want your days to be filled with purpose and that’s the message that you want to convey to the interviewer.
The Internet is a powerful tool for job hunters but probably the strongest job-hunting tool is still the network. Tell everyone that you know that you’re job hunting. Human Resources professionals, who interview new job applicants for a living, admit that the best thing that you can do to promote your chances of being hired is to network.
Even if your resume stands out in every way, and even if you answer every question in an interview in the “right” way, an employer is most likely to hire someone with references, especially if those references come from someone that s/he knows personally.
If you know people in the field, that should be your first step – talk to them and let them know that you’d appreciate it if they’d keep their ears open for job openings.
Make sure that you have references from your previous places of employment – even if those places aren’t directly related to the job for which you’re applying. The potential employer will want to know that you’re honest and responsible.
It’s always a good idea to keep up memberships in professional groups so that people know you and, when you do want to find a new job, you’ll have people ready to vouch for you as a member of the team (plus they might know of job openings as well).
Convey confidence and try to build a rapport with an interviewer. If you don’t get the job, think back – is there something that you regret saying? Something that you regret not saying? Remember those for next time.
Job hunting is a process but if you are willing to accept some advice from people in the field, you have a better chance of landing what you want.
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