A while ago I wrote an article about the 5 things you must do before quitting your job. And while this is surely very helpful for those looking to become their own bosses, the fact is that not everyone is on the same wavelength.
Actually, right now you may be on the total opposite side of the spectrum, where you are looking for a new professional challenge or even desperately seeking a job, so that you can pay your bills and have some stability in your life.
As I said before and many times, especially if you follow me on Twitter, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with working for others. As a matter of fact, this is undoubtedly the best option for most people, as it will guarantee them a continuous and stable income stream, as well as avoiding all the headaches which having a business or being an entrepreneur involve.
As long as you like (you don’t need to love it) what you do and you do not drag yourself to the workplace, then to be an employee is nothing to be ashamed of. And even if you want to become an entrepreneur, you need to first rely on your daily job before risking everything to suddenly be totally dependent on your own business.
But when looking for a job, most people sell themselves short, thinking that the employer has all the decision power regarding their professional lives.
Well, if you do things right, you’ll also have a critical role in influencing the hiring process, and get a better position than the one you may be thinking right now is the one you deserve. So these are the 5 steps you should take, so that “better outcome” eventually happens:
1. You need have qualifications, skills and working experience
There is no other way to put it: you need to show some “personal record”.
Yeah, that’s not fair, I know. But life isn’t fair, so you better have something that can prove to others what you are capable of doing. And in today’s world, that comes in the form of courses, degrees and credentials.
If you are young, you still have a choice, so better to choose a recognized degree, than that philosophy course you have always dreamed of. If you are already older, then at least make sure your job experience is already extensive. And if that’s not the case, then try to get training in something which will make you stand out from the crowd.
For instance, nowadays SAP is a very desirable tool in many companies, so that’s something you can grab yourself to. Or maybe a deep knowledge in social media and ads, in case you are looking for a marketing job.
Basically, whatever you can do that can be added to your CV, just do it. But always remember that things like extra languages, international experience (working or studying abroad for at least one year) and proficiency in MS Office will always be well seen by any company.
So if you’re not willing to have qualifications in the first place, then the rat race is simply not for you. Just make yourself a favor an become an Uber driver or learn valuable trades such as becoming a carpenter, plumber or electrician. Such activities will always be well paid.
2. Find what suits you better
It’s usually said that the more you do one thing, the better. So the more girls you approach, the more chances you’ll have of taking one to bed. The more emails you send, the more chances you’ll have to find a reliable vendor. The more applications you send, the easier it will be to find a job.
Well, I tend to disagree.
Life has taught me that one of secrets for success (and I’m also considering small victories, not just world-wide success) is to filter out “negatives” beforehand, especially those things you are neither good at nor you identify yourself with.
So what’s the point of approaching 100 girls who are looking at their phones, if you can just approach a handful of them who look receptive? The same analogy can be done with jobs: why sending 100 applications if all of them require perfect Chinese, and you are nothing more than an intermediate?
Therefore, instead of playing the numbers’ game, just know what game you’re playing. If you were looking for buying shoes, you could go to all IKEAs in the country that you wouldn’t find a pair.
So before anything, and supposing you already have some life and working experience, just try to understand what you are good at and what better suits your profile (ask for the help of friends to tell you that). You may think that you are great at selling, but if everyone around tells you how great you are with organizing data, maybe you should listen to others.
In the end, the more naturally you do a certain task or perform a skill, the easier it will be to sell yourself for an offer which requires exactly that skill. And always remember that a job it’s something which will occupy half of your daily time, so better to do something which gives you some pleasure than just doing it for the money.
3. Form matters…a lot
This is another fact that annoys many people: that in today’s world form matters much more over substance and content. Well, it has surely annoyed me many times in my life, but guess what? That’s how things work, so either you accept it or you will live forever frustrated.
And in this case, there are two documents to bet all your “quality” chips: Your Curriculum Vitae and your Cover Letter.
As I’ve written before, obviously that your degrees, skills and competences will help you a lot in getting a job. And if you’re a surgeon doctor or an aerospace engineer, you can write one sentence in your CV that you’ll be hired anyway.
The problem comes when you are applying for “normal” office/management jobs, where the competition is fierce.
So first of all, make sure you organize your CV in a clean way. Sometimes, the less the better, so just don’t fill it with clutter and experience which means little or even nothing to what you’re applying right now.
Simply use bullet points and emphasize your most relevant job titles, courses and degrees you have. This document shouldn’t have more than 2 pages.
Regarding your cover letter, make sure you go straight to the point, by showing first what you have done (especially focusing on your best “soft skills”) and then using the last couple of paragraphs to talk why the company will win having you as a coworker.
The cover letter should have a header with your contact details, and then the date and the address of the company/person you are sending your application to. Lastly, it shouldn’t have more than one page
And, more important than everything, watch out your orthography – and this applies both to your CV and cover letter.
One single mistake or a sentence that is awkwardly built will be enough for the HR recruiter to “next” your application. So make sure you double-check your typos and grammar before sending any email.
4. Dress business casual and exude confidence
Long gone are the days where you would need to really wear a suit or bring fancy clothes to go to any business meeting. Sure, if you are applying for any top senior position such as a Sales Manager or even a CEO, you want to make sure that you dress the part.
But for any other position, looking nice and stylish will be more than enough. So just bring a shirt that fits you (“slim fit” are my favorite, but you need to be relatively in shape, otherwise just choose a “regular fit” one), as well as some classic trousers which are neither short nor long – for most guys this is a real challenge.
Then, always remember to combine the belt and the shoes in the same color, and that the latter are well polished. Lastly, bring a blazer or eventually an overcoat, depending on the weather.
Regarding the second point, this is where most guys screw it up. When you go to an interview, you have to present the best version of yourself.
Even if you lack confidence, at this moment you have to pretend you have it (imagine the company is desperately looking to hire you and that you are doing them a favor. This is eventually the best mindset you can have).
So when you go to an interview, always have a good posture, smile at the person or people you will be dealing with and, even more important, hold eye contact.
This is applies both if the other person is a man or a woman because, if she is the latter, you’ll show some real masculine confidence and if he is the former, you’ll show him that you are a man of character.
Then, whenever you are talking, make sure you don’t rush between words. Otherwise, you’ll come off as nervous which, being with women, with employers or whomever you’re doing business with, will always be a huge (insert your goal here) killer.
Basically, just calm down because the more you look relaxed, the more you’ll look confident. And the more confident you’ll look like, the less the employer will have the impression that you are faking something.
Consequently, you will be perceived as a guy who transmits safety and has nothing to hide, becoming therefore the best of the candidates! Be cool and collected and the world will be yours (ok, maybe only this job, but that’s already something).
5. Master the art of bluffing
When people are looking for a job, the first things almost everyone does is to give power to the other party. Basically, to adopt a totally “seller mindset”, hoping that the other person will be convinced and will buy their products – in this case, that the employer gets convinced by the applicant skills and experience and hires him.
Well, if you want to get that job which is above your (theoretical) competences, then you must start using some psychological “tricks” on the company(ies) you have already had the first interview(s) and whose reaction was somehow positive.
So after one week, maximum two, just grab your phone, call the HR responsible or the person whom you had the talk with, ask him first how is the process going and then if you can get an answer regarding your application as soon as possible, due to the fact that you already have a couple of proposals from other companies.
Note: in any case, just use such words as “from all the companies I’m in contact with, yours is by far the project that interests me the most, that’s why I’m contact you as don’t want to lose such opportunity”.
This will do four things.
First, you show interest and pro-activity, something that every company on the surface of Earth truly likes and admires. After all, they would not want to hire an employee who has a passive attitude and does not value his time.
Second, you will raise – better say skyrocket – your perceived value. If other companies are interested in you and you are already discussing final details, then that can only mean that you are a valuable asset to have, right?
Then, you’ll also filter out companies who do not have that real interest in you. Whenever you put pressure on someone, you obligate that person to say yes or no, so better to receive a quick no than a…no in the future.
Lastly, and more important of all these four, you will create this sense of urgency. Do you know when you want to buy the last item of a collection or the last pair of shoes on your size?
Well, the people who work for HR and the people who decide about hiring a new employee, are exactly that, PEOPLE, so they have emotions like anyone else. So by creating this FOMO, you’ll have a much higher chance of not only receiving a proposal from this company but especially a good and quick one.
To look for a new job can be one of the most frustrating experiences you can go through. It’s time-consuming and can be become one main reason of anxiety, as you need in most cases to have a passive role.
Yes, even if you can influence the decision by following the steps I told you above, you can never avoid the fact that you will need to wait for an answer. And in most cases, this process may last for weeks and you may even never get an answer.
It will also depend a lot in which stage you are currently at. Maybe you have a job and you are “secretly” looking for a new one (this by far the best option, as you will not risk anything).
Or eventually you quit your job a while ago, just because you wanted to take some time off, and right now you feel the need to have a stable source of income again.
Or maybe you left the corporate world simply because you wanted to try that business you had been thinking about for such a long time. And because you could neither find the energy nor the time, you decided to leave your company to totally focus on that side hustle which would give you the financial dream you have always dreamed of.
But then, as it usually happens in this world called reality, things have not gone exactly as you expected and one year afterwards, you still have no business or, even if you already have one, it is not selling as you expected before.
In such cases, don’t be ashamed of having to look for a new job. Actually, don’t even try to hide it! Many people usually avoid to tell that they have their own business, thinking that the future employer will see it as negative – coming up with such excuses as “I have been helping and taking care of my sick mom for six months” just to explain why they have not been working for such a long time.
For me, that’s ridiculous!
As long as you show that your business will not occupy most of your day (e.g.: like it would happen if you opened a “physical restaurant”), feel free to share with the company you are in conversation with that you just wanted to try and create something on your own, so that you could have the pleasure to earn extra money.
In many cases you’ll be surprised how companies find that positive, showing that you are a proactive person with vision. And in case they ask you why you are looking for a new job again, don’t say that it was because your business has failed or that you desperately need the money.
Instead, just say that having an online or a side business can become a very lonely experience abd that you miss not only all the thrill of the corporate world but especially the contact and joy of working together with others.
Contrary to what you may think, most HR will not only understand your point but only respect you more as a person. Because you are being honest, not just coming up with the typical bullshit as most applicants do. And when you put the cards on the table, you simply increase the odds of winning this game called “getting a new job”.