Every day at our job placement firm we interview people who need work. Depending on their experience, age, industry, or occupation we try to work with each person to understand how we can assist them in getting a job. And sometimes it’s not too easy helping with their job search skills.
Let me explain. Many of the people we interview have not had the need to look for work on a regular basis, so many are, you might say, a bit rusty, and sometimes embarrassed that they need to look for work.
Many are accustomed to being recruited from their existing jobs so job search activity is not a skill set they’ve yet mastered. But it’s not that difficult if you approach job search like you approach your work. I’ve accumulated several best practices that I thought it important to share so you can improve your job search skills.
What do you love to do?
What is it about your work that you love to do? What gets you excited about the work that you’ve performed? Do you enjoy work that allows you the ability to pay great attention to detail, perhaps bookkeeping or computer programming? Or do you enjoy big picture thinking, like creative settings, and like to develop great customer relationships?
Take the time to list these attributes and tasks. Once you do you’ll begin to gain focus on what types and kinds of work is right for you.
What do you not like to do?
Conversely, what is it about your work that you could do without? For instance, I’ve had clients tell me that they enjoyed working in the background, by themselves, but were regularly asked to provide service to customers and clients, putting them way out of their comfort zone. There are other people who have to crunch numbers all day long when they would really enjoy meeting people and selling product and services.
Understanding what you do not like will help you to rule out job functions which you will not enjoy.
And you know what? If you go on a job interview and try to feign a like for something you don’t enjoy, the person interviewing you will pick up on it… and you’ve lost the opportunity to get a job.
Did someone say casual dress was O.K.?
You’ve landed an interview and show up dressed, well, quite casual. The person you are interviewing with may be casual as well, but I have to ask you. Did someone say casual was o.k.? A suggestion: if you want to present yourself in the best manner possible, include every aspect of your dress and physical appearance possible. You are projecting and promoting a brand – you! If you project a casual brand then it might be assumed you will approach your job that way. We’ve had women with halter tops and lots of perfume, men with dirty baggy jeans, sometimes heavy after shave. Think it over. Is casual o.k.?
What type of questions are you asking?
Seriously, have you done your homework on the company? On the person you are interviewing with? Do you understand how the position you are interviewing for functions within the company? If you understand your talents, drivers, and preferences what types of questions are you prepared to ask so that you can identify if there is going to be a good job fit for you?
What is your job plan?
Do you sit at home wondering what your next move is going to be? Do you keep a calendar or schedule of your activity, or as one of my friends used to say: “Do you spend a lot of time rearranging the socks in your sock drawer?” If you are used to structure and order while on the job make sure that you continue it in your job plan.
One of my clients was getting overwhelmed by all the emails coming into his inbox, he couldn’t prioritize if he should answer the emails, write the thank you letter to the person who had just interviewed him, look online for jobs, or go to lunch with an important person in his business network.
Let me make a suggestion: Prioritize, Plan, Act. Looking for work is a full time job. Organize your activities as you would in the work day. Unless of course your lack of organization, prioritizing, planning, and acting on the job contributed to your not having a job.
At the beginning of the day you get out of bed. At the end of the day you go to bed. In between you look in the mirror and hopefully project the real you throughout the course of the day. If you need to do a lot of soul-searching to find the real you, do that soul-searching before you start your job search. Focus on improving your self-awareness, your belief in self, and find comfort in the roles that best suit you. When you’re ready, enjoy the process – prepared to get the most out of your job search skills.
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