Searching for a job is a lot of give and take. Especially if you are brand new to the workforce (see: the author of this post), it can be a lot more giving than taking. After all, you are leveraging a limited amount of experience against high ambitions.
“What’s your expected salary?” they ask, and you mumble back something about how your roommate with the same level of education and skills is making enough money to pay rent and buy a venti mocha every day, but you might settle for just the rent.
You apply, apply, apply and for every 30 applications, you hear back once. And if you are lucky enough to make it through a phone screening and two interviews, you have to wait. Whether two hours or two days, that wait can be nerve wracking. But if all goes well, you are hired.
Truth be told, the entire process is daunting and long. Not to mention, if you are anything like me, you may have jumped the gun on signing a lease and moving out of mom’s house before you had a job locked up.
Luckily, there are a few steps you can take that make finding the right job — and helping the right job find you — easier.
Let them see you:
A lot of job applications offer questions that are meant to weed out unqualified candidates. These screening questions allow hiring managers to see only the applicants who have the characteristics they find most important. They save both parties — employer and candidate — time and money. When faced with such questions, it is important not to sell yourself short. If you are applying to be a reporter for a newspaper and they ask for years of reporting experience, don’t leave out those four years in college you spent on the school newspaper. Experience is experience.
That being said, be honest. In the same way that you feel you deserve the right job, the companies with which you are interviewing deserve the right employee. If you aren’t qualified for a position, don’t waste your time or the time of the company by exaggerating or embellishing your skills.
Let them hear you:
If you have been invited for a phone interview, or better yet an in-person interview, wake up at a reasonable hour and prepare your mind and body for the day. Speak loudly and clearly. Be confident. I am certain I was screened out of the first job I received a phone interview for because I woke up just as they were calling and sounded groggy and slow. After that, I started to treat my job search as if it were my current job. I woke up early each day, got the coffee brewing, and went to work searching for a job.
Let them know you care:
If you’re unemployed or working a part-time job, but you are looking for a full-time position, use your downtime wisely. Prepare for common interview questions like:
What are some of your strengths and weaknesses? What was something you liked or disliked about your last job? Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Also, take some time to research the companies you have applied to. How do they serve their clients? How do they make money? Do they do any philanthropy?
This allows you to give thoughtful responses that might set you apart from your competition. When you get an interview, make sure to follow up afterward and let the company know your level of interest.
If you find that you have a lot of downtime, take some online tutorials on different skills that might be useful at the jobs for which you are applying. While I was job searching, I learned HTML programming and Microsoft Access for free on the Internet. Through those tutorials, I was able to put new skills to use in my job at NewHire.
Know what you’re looking for:
This is perhaps the most important thing to consider. When I was looking for a job, I started out not really knowing what I was looking for. I was thinking that I needed a high-paying position at a huge company, because I was a college graduate, darn it. As I continued searching and considered my past employment, I realized that the best thing for me would be an entry-level position where I wanted to live (Chicago) at a company that would let me express my passions for writing, interacting with the people around me, and maybe even telling a joke or two along the way. I wanted the room and freedom to grow at a company that valued growth.
When I started thinking about what I wanted to be doing each day, my job search narrowed significantly. Enter NewHire, who screened me, called me, interviewed me, and hired me after a few days of nervous wait time. Now I’m talking with people from all over the United States, writing blog posts, working on a team, and, yes, even cracking a joke or two. How’s that for a job search?
If you think you are ready to put yourself out on the employment market, check out our job board. We update it constantly with new positions available all over North America. If you are more of a social media guru, check out our Twitter and Facebook pages for frequent #hiring updates.