A large percentage of college graduates find themselves graduating into poverty, and moving back home with their parents in horrified disbelief that they are still eating Ramen noodles and cannot find a job that requires a high school diploma, let alone a college degree. One of the main reasons students experience this unfortunate introduction to the real world is because they are among the millions of generic college graduates who have done little or nothing to distinguish themselves during the “Dash Period”—the time they have between freshman and senior year to brand themselves. Through this signature work, Michael D. Brown has prevented thousands of students from graduating into poverty by helping them develop thriving and competitive personal brands that are empowered and equipped to achieve exponential personal and professional success.
Category: Career Success
- Listen. The interview will likely start with your interviewer(s) describing the job, the company, and possibly the type of person they are looking for, corporate culture, or other facts. Listen attentively, sit up with straight but non-threatening posture, and remain silent until you are invited to speak or it is obviously time to say something. Beyond obtaining potentially valuable data that can help you frame your comments and answers, this also demonstrates you are a good listener, a prized corporate skill that is all too rare in today’s world where people announce their lunch menu on Twitter.
- Speak. You should do most of the talking. The interview is about you explaining and proving why you are the best person for the job. Answer questions directly and honestly, and use anecdotes that illustrate your qualifications whenever possible. Describing how you led a sales team to double its revenues is much more impressive than saying you’re a good sales manager. Also use your research here – you may want to mention you helped another company overcome a challenge similar to the one the company currently faces – and be sure to have a few specific questions ready. The questions should revolve around specific tasks and responsibilities you will have, advancement potential, and other work-related subjects – not vacation and sick time!
- Follow Up. As soon as you get back home from the interview, write a short, polite note (NOT an email or even worse, text message) thanking your interviewer for taking the time to speak with you and mentioning one or two specific reasons you are perfect for the job that relate to topics of conversation during the interview. You will look professional and thorough, and a signed note really stands out in the age of instant electronic communication.
6.5Stay Positive. Even if you do your very best at a job interview, you may not get the position. Someone else may simply have better qualifications or experience, or have an inside connection. You must stay positive. Review the interview, correct any flaws or missteps that may have occurred, and put it out of your mind at the next interview. If you truly commit yourself to acing every job interview you get, you should find a fulfilling work position sooner rather than later.
It’s no secret that jobs are scarce. Don’t be misled by encouraging downward trends in unemployment – a lot of the new jobs being created are of the low-level service variety. Quality, career-type positions are few in number and applicants are many. Add in the fact that today’s companies are terrified of making a bad hire, due to the intense dedication of money and resources involved in bringing on a new staff member plus legal ramifications of firing someone, and finding a job that will let you achieve your professional and personal aspirations is tougher than ever.
But it can be done. However, the key to obtaining the kind of job that will advance your career is acing your job interview. The interview is absolutely crucial to getting hired, and demonstrating you have the necessary skills and background is only a small portion of what you must accomplish. Here are 6.5 fresh steps to acing your next job interview.
- Do Your Homework. You need to do a lot of research before the interview takes place. The Internet makes this task easier than in the past, but you still need to check out the company’s website, as well as websites of its major competitors. Do a Google search of the company, its executives and its industry to find out what challenges it is facing. Also it may reveal important details about executives you will speak with, such as their alma maters, social activities, etc. you can use to personalize your conversation. If possible, discreetly visit the company’s lobby to get a sense of what people are wearing and how they act.
- Appearance counts. You are essentially hired (or not hired) in the first 30 seconds of the interview. Your potential employer decides very quickly if you are right for the job or not, and the rest of the conversation serves to prove or disprove this first impression. The very first thing your interviewer(s) will see is your personal appearance. Are your hair and nails freshly groomed? Are you wearing tailored business attire that is in line with current fashion but not too “trendy”? Is your breath fresh and are you well-rested but alert? Do you carry a quality leather attache case and have professionally printed business cards and resumes to distribute? If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” make sure it becomes “yes” before your interview occurs!
- Talk to everyone. Even if you arrive on time (I’m assuming you know enough to never be late, and ideally should be 10-15 minutes early), you will likely be asked to wait for at least a few minutes before the interview starts. If there is a receptionist in the waiting area, engage them in pleasant conversation. Also smile and say hello to anyone who passes by. Do not ask any questions or initiate in-depth conversations (remember everyone will report what you say and do), but if you are lucky someone in the company might reveal a valuable piece of information, such as what type of mood your interviewer is in or how many other people have been interviewed. Plus you immediately establish yourself as a social, professional individual who makes a good impression.
- Volunteer. While you’re trying to attract paying job offers, show off your abilities and help a worthy cause by volunteering. Participating in volunteer activities is a great form of networking, and someone on a volunteer board who is impressed by your efforts just may have a job opening they haven’t publicized. Plus let’s be honest, you should do at least a little volunteering anyway!
- Participate in professional organizations. Almost any profession has one and probably many professional organizations associated with it. These organizations usually have meetings, events, committees and other efforts that allow you to connect and work side-by-side with other professionals in your chosen field. Separate from more general networking and volunteering efforts, involvement in professional organizations is a critical step toward letting prime potential decision makers (with high paying job offers) know who you are and how much value you offer.
- Ask for references. You know the old piece of advice, “If you want something, ask for it?” It’s old because it always has been and always will be true. No matter how great a job you do for someone, they are not likely to tell other people about it unless you politely ask them to do so. Keep in mind that conversely, people love to immediately spread the word when someone does a poor job.
6.5 Stay active. This last fresh “half-step” is a simple reminder that attracting high paying job offers in a recession requires constant energy and activity. You cannot slack or make a half-hearted effort. Staying active in your efforts is the key to making sure your other six steps pay off. Think of it like following through on a baseball swing – no matter how well you swing the bat or connect with the ball, failing to follow through will result in a single or even pop fly instead of a home run!
Despite all the recent news about the great economic “recovery” the U.S. is experiencing, the fact remains that for most people and companies, times are still tough. Most of the profits that have been recovered since the economic meltdown of 2008-09 have gone to a select group of individuals and corporations who are reluctant to part with any of it.
For the most part, the people and companies who will potentially purchase your services or products, or give you a “high” paying job offer, are operating on a recession mentality where they only spend money when absolutely necessary. This means landing “high” paying job offers require a well-thought and executed strategy. Here are 6.5 fresh steps to making sure you attract these highly sought after and competitive high paying job offers – no matter how challenging the economic environment becomes.
- Become a personal brand. It is not enough to enter today’s marketplace with a certain degree, or set of skills, or list of achievements. All that is simply the required background you need to even try to compete. Winning the competition for high paying job offers means becoming a personal brand, so that as soon as people hear your name they instantly associate it with outstanding excellence in a particular area. Therefore, you must do a truly exemplary job every single time, no matter how trivial or menial the task may be, and also constantly educate yourself, sharpen your existing skills and make sure you present yourself in a completely positive and professional manner. Only then will all your skills and experience actually do anything to help you compete.
- Develop a particular area of expertise. While being a “jack of all trades” may seem on the surface like the best recipe to guaranteeing yourself a steady stream of high paying job offers, all it really does is ensure your name will always float around when someone wants something done fast and cheap. You don’t want to be one of those names! By all means it is worthwhile to possess an extended range of skills, but to truly stand out in a tight market, being known as a true expert in a particular area is what draws the high-value, high-paying job offers in the long run. For example, it’s OK to be a gifted salesperson who can “sell anything,” but better to be a gifted salesperson who is renowned for selling business software (or cars, or whatever other product category attracts your interest and abilities).
- Network, network, network. Most people award jobs, accounts, projects, etc. to someone they either know personally or are vouched for by a personal acquaintance. The fear of the unknown is a strong primal urge in humans, and it extends to the business world. Especially these days, the odds of winning employment or professional engagement through an ad listing are virtually nil. You need to get out there and meet as many people as possible, and develop personal relationships with the most valuable sources. Online social networks are a valuable new way to extend the reach of your network nationally or even globally.