If you’re job hunting you’ve probably read several if not dozens of different tips for winning that perfect job. These career tips can range all the way from how to dress for an interview to how to sell yourself to a prospective employer. While our economy is definitely rebounding there is still strong competition for all decent jobs and, in most cases the whole hiring process will be difficult and challenging. We’ve heard of people who were put through two or more lengthy telephone interviews before they actually saw a recruiter. One friend of ours was told he would have to write and submit an essay before he would be granted just a telephone interview. And if you’re looking for a technical job, you’ll probably have to take some kind of test via the phone before you see a recruiter.
Some career tips can help
Some of the career tips you’ll read or hear can be very helpful. For example, there are good tips available for how to create a winning resume, how to grab a recruiter’s attention and about using networking to find job openings. We’ve also read good tips about the importance of knowing your potential employer, which interview style to use, about dressing conservatively and getting to your interviews on time.
When you have a job
If you already have a job there are also numerous tips and advice you’ve probably gotten from friends or co-workers about your career. Some of these, too, can be helpful. However, there are some you should avoid and here are five of them.
1. Asking for a promotion
You may have been told that you won’t get a raise or promotion unless you ask for it. But many experts say that this is a bad idea. You shouldn’t ask for a raise or promotion even at your annual review. What you should do instead is let your actions speak for you to show you’re a better leader. You need to learn your company’s business inside and out and then create results your boss can’t ignore. You should also find ways to have the most supportive, entrepreneurial and positive spirit in your company. Then, when the company needs a new leader, you will be asked to take on the role. If you think this wouldn’t work in your company, you might need to get a new job with a new company where this kind of spirit and attitude would be rewarded.
2. You need a one-page resume
You may have read or been told that you should keep your resume short – like to no more than one page. Again, this is a tip it’s best to avoid. Whether you’re looking for a job or promotion your resume reflects why you’d be best qualified for it. If you’ve had extensive experience, don’t sacrifice it by just highlighting your skills, expertise and talents in order to cram everything into a single sheet of paper. It’s important that you design your resume specifically to the job you’re applying for and all your job descriptions should reflect your talents and how they would fit the proposed job.
3. A great resume will get you hired
Understand that your resume is a marketing tool not unlike a product brochure except you’re the product. It’s critical that you focus it on getting an interview. Many experts say you don’t have to include every job you’ve had or even put them in chronological order. What you need to get an interview is your resume along with a telephone. That’s your goal. What will get you that great job is not a long, complicated looking resume. It will be a great attitude and your interview. You need to understand that there are various steps in the hiring process and that your resume needs to be a tool that will work well throughout that process. You may need to fine tune it as you move from the recruiter or HR representative through to the team or group leader or division head with whom you will actually be working.
4. Send a thank you note after your interview
You might have been told that it’s a good idea to send a thank you note after an interview. However, many experts say this would be a waste of time. You do need to send a follow-up note but it should be strategic – reinforcing the fact that you are a great candidate for the job. The way you would do this is by answering the unstated question of “why should we hire you.” Remember, again that you’re the product and that you need to market or promote yourself at every step along the way. Think about the job and your interview before you sit down to write that note. You might want to even jot down four or five bullet points as to why you’re an excellent candidate and then write a brief paragraph about each. For example, if one of you bullet points is that you have all the skills the job requires you might write a brief paragraph about those skills and how they would benefit the company.
5. Go with your passion
One of the most frequently heard career tips is that you should “follow your passion.” This could be true if you know your true passion but, unfortunately, most of us either have multiple passions or don’t discover our passion until later in life. In addition, you might have a passion that doesn’t translate well into a practical source of income. As an example of this, your true passion might be photography but you know it would be very tough to become a successful photographer and you could spend many years as that proverbial “starving artist” before seeing any success. What you might do instead of following that particular passion is get a job where you would earn enough during the week that you could spend you weekends sharpening your photographic skills or pursuing whatever is your true passion. In other words, instead of following your passion, try for a job that would allow you to both indulge that passion and live a good life.
Career tips that should help
Conversely, there are numerous career tips that you shouldn’t ignore and that could definitely be helpful. For example, before an interview, you should refresh your memory of your past employers as you will likely be quizzed about companies you previously worked for. And you should be prepared to describe your most important past achievements particularly as to how they relate to the job you’re interviewing for. Be sure to focus on your transferable skills or those skills you learned in your last job that could benefit the prospective employer. If you’re not sure about transferable skills, here’s a short video that explains them.
Second, you should be ready to talk about why the job appeals to you and what sets you apart from other candidates. We know of one ex-marketing manager that was able to land a job as a senior technical writer by stressing in his interview the other skills he would bring to the job – in addition to just the tech writing.
Another good tip is to write down a list of the questions you’re likely to be asked in the interview and your best answers. Your prospective employer will be asking questions to determine whether or not you have the qualifications necessary for the job and you need to be ready to address them. You should also be ready to answer any “embarrassing” questions such as why there’s that chronological gap in your resume (what were you doing those two missing years?) or why you don’t want to reveal the name of that one particular manager.
Finally, keep in mind that an interview is a two-way street. You should have questions ready to help you learn if the company would really be a good fit for you and whether it offers opportunites for the growth and development that’s important to you. Always keep in mind that just because you would be perfect for that job doesn’t necessarily mean the job – or the company – would be perfect for you.