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In Search of the Holy Grail: Tips for getting a Job

March 15, 2013

It seems a lot of people are looking for work right now, or still looking for work. So I have to wonder how they are searching for work, and why they are not getting work. Having been in search of a “competent, creative, resourceful” assistant several times in the past, I can tell you that most people are not effective in conducting a job search. Even when I explicitly stated in my job postings that I would only respond to “impressive cover letters,” out of the more than 150 resumes I received, only about 15 candidates submitted cover letters, and of those 15, only 3 letters were what I would consider impressive. Most of the letters were, at best, a paragraph telling me they really needed a job, but not even mentioning their skills or background, and others were simply one sentence stating they were responding to my post. The latter ones do not constitute cover letters. So out of the 150 candidates only 2 went the extra mile–and it really wasn’t even the extra mile, it was a basic requirement.

Someone asked me the other day, “what is the one thing you would tell someone who is looking for a job?” I would say, do everything you can to differentiate yourself and stand heads above the masses. It’s not that difficult to do. Of course, as most people who know me would probably tell you, it’s difficult for me to tell them only ‘one thing,’ so I would tell them several things that would likely improve their job search.

Improving Your Job Search

Improving Your Job Search

If I had to choose one thing though, I would tell them: Tailor your resume to each job. Each job posting has a list of responsibilities and desired skills, if you meet any of them, you can literally copy and paste them into your resume. Personally I like to re-spin them a little, and keep the key words, as that is how resume scanners match resumes to the job role requirements. Secondly, craft at minimum a cover letter with a good solid paragraph highlighting your pertinent skills for that role. In a nutshell, that paragraph is your elevator speech, something you should memorize and have ready at a moment’s notice in case a potential employer should ask you what you do.

If you get an interview, remember to just be yourself. Be sincere and personable. Most employers decide whether they like you or not within the first minute or two, and whether you will be a good fit for the team–those two things carry a lot of weight in making the decision to hire you or not. So do your best to be likeable–not to be the smartest person in the room. If they’ve invited you in for an interview, they probably already believe in your skills and background, now they just have make sure you will fit in–so you can actually relax and be yourself, but be professional.

Last, always close the interview by thanking them for their time and telling them that you “want the job,” or telling them that if they hire you “you are going to be committed to helping them achieve their goals.” Leave them with something to remember you by, something that sets you apart from the rest. You’d be surprised how many people never close the deal on a job interview, because they assume the employer has all the power. In reality, they often need you as much as you need them–especially if you are good at what you do. Letting them know that hiring you will be a win-win just makes their decision that much easier.

In Search of the Holy Grail

In Search of the Holy Grail

In the meantime, take advantage of your downtime: Improve your business knowledge or skills, read a good business book, attend a free class or workshop, take a free class online, pick the brains of your successful friends and colleagues, or research your industry and stay up-to-date on the latest trends. Exercising your brain can help you become more creative and effective in your job search.

I know looking for a job can be difficult. Don’t give up though. Your persistence will pay off.

If you need more advice on your job search, feel free to email me.

Best Wishes on your Search,

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