So you’re ready to start or change your career. You don’t have an overwhelming amount of experience, and every job post you see requires 2+ years? How do you get an interview for these jobs? On top of being one of hundreds of resumes, you don’t have a huge network to take advantage of. How do you stand out? I recently found myself in this position as I relocated to Southern California from Boston. I know I have the skills and drive to be successful, but the biggest issue is earning the opportunity. Here are 5 tips I used to stand out and get me through the job hunt and find myself in front of multiple ideal employers.
- Identify - You need to know what you are looking for. Put together a list of companies and positions that appeal to you on job boards and identify similar companies. Even if a company does not have a job post, if it fits in your ideal employer, add it to the list. Some websites I found helpful: Angellist, LinkedIn, Indeed
- Research, Research, Research - Before I even applied to a single company I made sure I had a great understanding of the product, culture and company leadership. Use Glassdoor, company websites, LinkedIn, Blogs, or even downloading the company's software to familiarize yourself and maximize your knowledge of the company and position before you find yourself in a phone interview.
- Position yourself - Tailor your resume to these positions and companies. Know what they look for, know what the current employees at the position look like, know how to use your strengths. Check out my blog on leveraging jobs during college as an asset to your professional development.
- Initial Contact - After submitting an online application, why sit and wait? I sent over a professionally written email to multiple decision makers in the hiring process with a customized cover letter. Express your interest in the company, use the knowledge you researched and ask a question that isn’t answered on the company website. Every time I did this I received a response, and 90% of the time it lead to a phone interview. This allows you to show your level of interest and begin to build a rapport before you even start the interview process.
- Network - Find 2nd degree connections, ask your current network if they know any ideal companies, attend networking events. I actually attended a networking event that had a speaker presenting “Hiring the Sales Rep of the Future” because I knew one of the hiring managers was an going to be in attendance. Not only did I get an opportunity to follow up in person, show commitment but most importantly I was able to hear what the company valued in an ideal candidate before I even had my interview. Bring business cards, speak to anyone and everyone. I left with 8 new contacts, all of which were eager to help guide me in the right direction.
Once you do start getting interviews don’t allow the result to lead to excitement or discouragement, still continue your search until you sign a contract. Companies only have so many spots with a plethora of eager candidates. You will run into failure, but don’t let that ruin your confidence. I was not extended an offer after I thought I did everything right. In turn, the following day I had the absolute worst phone screen of my life. I felt like I was speaking a foreign language. The best piece of advice I received from one of my mentors when I reached out after the fact is to channel anxiety into activity. Use the failure to fuel your desire to find success. Continue to apply, research, contact and network until you do get an opportunity. And once you do finally get it, make the absolute most of it.