We’ve all been there: trying to find the job of our dreams but realizing we don’t even know if that job exists. When we find something which seems to be the perfect fit, how will we succeed during the interviewing process? How will be present ourselves during an interview? What if we slip up? How and when do we send just the right “thank you” email?
The job of your dreams may not be the job you dreamed of having as a little kid. Maybe you wanted to be a doctor but realized blood made you extremely uneasy. Maybe you wanted to be a lawyer but took a Legal Studies call and could barely keep your eyes open. A job description or the idea of a job is more than meets the eye. Sometimes our dream jobs aren’t found right away, and it takes a few sub-par jobs to allow us to find what we really want.
First things first? Figuring out what it is you really are looking for in not only a job, but your future and your life.
1 – Figure Out What You Really Want
Maybe you went to school for something without a direct career path, or you’ve decided that you don’t necessarily want to follow your Finance track. Maybe you chose your major based on its ability to get you “the job your parents always wanted you to get” but you know your passion lies elsewhere.
Think about it this way: If money was no object, how what would you do with your time? Write a novel? Start a charity? Hey, even travel the world? Of course, money always is an object but it doesn’t need to be the sole object. If money is your only deciding factor, it won’t really matter how much you have if you’re truly unhappy at your 9-5.
In college, did you enjoy larger lectures or smaller classes? Did you work better on group projects or sole assignments? This could indicate the size or type of company you’d prefer.
If you did liked the lecture atmosphere more, consider working for a large, established company. If you preferred more intimate classroom experiences, maybe you see yourself at a startup of only five people or working with a small team within a larger company. Do you like risk and uncertainty? Try a startup. Something more concrete and established? Shoot for a company that’s firmly established
2 – Network and Use Your Connections
Maybe you think you’ll never land a job in New York City, or you’ll never be able to impress anyone with just your college credentials. Well, the move to a big city may be right on your radar. In total, New York State has added more than 700,00 jobs to the economy since mid-2009, at the height of the Great Recession. So, there might just be the right job for you lurking nearby.
When it comes to networking and using your connections, emailing your references can’t hurt you. Just remember to always be polite!
Reach out to your school’s alumni to see whether anyone has experience in your field of interest. Or, if you know someone employed by the company you’re interviewing with, arrange an informational session with him or her. If all goes well, that person will probably put in a good word for you.
3 – Update Your Resume and Cover Letter
The last thing you want to do when you find what seems to be the greatest job is fail to edit your resume and cover letter. If you had a job that only lasted a few months, don’t add it to your resume. But, if you had an unpaid volunteer position which you currently still hold, definitely add it!
Even if you didn’t make money working, that doesn’t mean you didn’t earn some valuable skills. If you’re in college, be sure to list all your internships and what each job function was. If you think writing for the newspaper doesn’t add up to anything when applying for a marketing position, you are far from right! The communication, writing, editing, and publishing skills all make you very valuable for many jobs which you may have gathered your interest.
4 – Edit Your LinkedIn
Is your LinkedIn picture from your freshman year of college while you’re two years out of college? Well, it sounds like it’s time for an upgrade. Is your picture one of you from a party, where you can the thin outline of a poorly cropped red solo cup? Again, please remove. If you haven’t had any professional pictures of you taken, now is the time. Professional pictures make great assets for your LinkedIn profile, your website, your social media pages, and the list goes on.
To stay top of mind with your contacts, you want to maintain a visible presence on LinkedIn. It’s important, however, to be cautious about how active you are, especially if you are unemployed and job seeking. Be wary about how often you post, because just like any other social media posts, you know posting too much can be quite annoying.
5 – Do Your Research (Research the company, know important dates)
Doing your research is quite important when it comes to knowing a company you may work for in the future. Not only does it make for excellent talking points but it shows that you’re interested in the company, beyond just what the company’s website looks like. Do you know when the company was founded? Who founded it? Who the CEO is? Maybe there was a recent merger and you bring up that for discussion.
Spend a few hours learning everything you possibly can about the company—from as many sources as you can (and not just online!) Talk to friends and contacts, read current news releases, and, yes, spend some time Googling. Often, candidates just look at the information a company is publishing via the website and social media but fail to look more in depth at what others are saying. By doing your research, you’ll get the bigger picture about the company.
6 – Reach Out to Companies Directly — If you don’t see a specific job posting, it doesn’t hurt to ask
If you always aspired to work at a certain company and you monitor the website’s career page endlessly but never end up seeing a job that fits your passions and talents, it doesn’t hurt to reach out and send over your resume.
Did you know that 80% of jobs don’t get posted since they’re filled via word of mouth? Even if there’s not a job you’re looking for available at the moment, you can establish yourself as a candidate and a networker who understands the importance of meaningful professional connections. When a job becomes available, the people you’ve talked to won’t post it on the website—they’ll reach out to you.
7 – Show Your Passion and Enthusiasm
Job interviews shouldn’t be cut and dry. No matter what kind of job you’re applying for, you’re going to be spending at least 40 hours working there, so of course, you’ll want to have a good relationship with your future bosses (who are probably the main people conducting the interview).
When it comes to interviewing, the spotlight is on you, but don’t feel afraid to ask about the company culture as well. And don’t be coy, you can brag about yourself a little bit. Don’t be show-offy, but be a real human being when interviewing. Are you a passionate mountain climber? Talk about your last vacation. Love reading classic literature? Talk about a few of your favorite stories. Want to know what the company’s charities are or annual community service events? Maybe you’re an avid volunteer and want to see what the company’s values are outside of just the day-to-day work.
When you’re asked what you are passionate about during a job interview, it’s a good opportunity to share hobbies or whatever is most important in your life. You’ll never know where the interviewer’s interest lies and bringing up some information about yourself may bring up some interesting topics for discussion.
8 – Know Your Value
Even if your position happens to be right out of school that doesn’t need you don’t have any valuable to bring to the company. If you are quizzed on your knowledge of say, certain coding languages, don’t lie that you know something if you don’t. Just tell the interviewer what you know and what you’d like to learn. Most of the time, they just want to know that you express interest in learning and are not necessarily looking for you to know it at the moment.
Instead, be self-aware. Talk about your prior achievements, your prior experience either interning, volunteering, working part-time (or full-time!), and even studying abroad. Talk about your summer studying French in France (a language you had no prior knowledge of either!) Told you you’re capable of learning.
Don’t tell an employer “what” your value is – show it with real-life examples. What does this look like in practice? Don’t use clichéd phrases that you may include in your resume such as “I have excellent written and verbal communication skills.” With this, you are just telling your interviewer you possess those qualities, and anyone can say that, but not everyone can necessarily show it.
9 – Learn How to Stand Out
Maybe you work as a freelance writer for a national publication, water ski, play soccer, oh, and are pretty legit at math. We don’t embody the mentality that our lives completely revolve around our skills at work and our shiny diploma. Yes, those are great and necessities, but what is it that makes you stand out from the crowd? What makes you better to hire than someone who looks equally as good on paper?
Some interviewees think that they did a fine job if they answered the interviewer’s questions “correctly.” Interviewers immediately forget you when you don’t make them think!
You have two goals at a job interview. The first one is to get the interviewer thinking and off the script. The second goal is to ask smart questions.
10 – Always Send Your Thank Yous
No matter how eternally grateful you were and appeared to be to be during your interview, you cannot forget a follow-up “thank you” email. If you interviewed with five different people, send each a personalized email. (Yes, they will talk if you happen to send the exact same email to each of them. Let’s hope you at least remembered to address each person as his or her correct name!) Sending thank you notes about interviews cannot be stressed enough.
As a tip: send your “thank you” emails within 24 hours of the interview. After that time frame, the opportunity has pretty much passed. Also, sending an email Friday when your interview was on Monday doesn’t really do justice to your dedication to the position. Remember, you want to stand out from the crowd. You don’t know how many people are interviewing for the position, and if one person sends a “thank you” an hour after the interview, he or she is really going to show more dedication than you.