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 Home | Business Aspiration | How To Get The Job You Really Want 

Business Aspiration

"How To Get The Job You Really Want"

  By Scott Andrews, Founder

  "Managers get empowered to innovate and collaborate with your models."-- Ed T. Sales Dir.


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How many times do we send out a resume, whether by mail or email, only to receive the all-too-common HR form letter "We have your resume on file, should a position arise matching your capabilities, someone will contact you."  


Yeah, right!  More likely, the letter should read, "we just threw your resume in the trash, or filed it in some neglected cabinet in our human resources department that never gets opened except for once a year cleaning.  We'll contact you on a snowy day in summer."  That reply is more truthful, from my experience, because when that letter is received it nets an interview a whopping .01% of the time.  Disheartening?  Sure, if you follow the "masses approach" to job-hunting.  What approach is that?  Send out your resume blindly to a list of companies you know nothing about.  Then call the general switchboard on the telephone and ask the operator if they received your resume, then get transferred to Human Resources, who says "don't call us, we'll call you."  I call that path a mirage, as it appears to be the path of least resistance and the path of typical success; yet, in reality the blind resume/H.R. path offers you the most resistance and least chance of success.


Rather than follow mirages, through utilizing the techniques in this article you can quickly jump-start your career, get the interview you seek, with the company you want to work for, and move your resume to the top of the stack.


First, a resume is not the key to selling you to most people, because 90% of the jobs are won through the power of networking (see: Better Networking).  It is YOU (yes, you, your own self) who gets the job.  People get to know you through other people who know who you are!  It's not just who you know, but who you know who knows who.  So, we'll discuss the resume next to LAST and the power of NETWORKING FIRST. Always use your network to job-hunt, unless you're trying to discretely search. In that case, be smart about who you tell that you're hunting. Here are some of my secrets:


#1:  Pick a list of companies who appeal to my (a) desired job potential, (b) earnings potential, (c) personal value system.  I pray and meditate about this list and then narrowing it down to the most qualified companies for me to work for.  The reason I say this is not to preach, but because I'm a firm believer in incorporating our spiritual self fully into our work life.  To focus purely on the intellectual self ignores the primary force of who we are. By focusing on our intuition, we can guide our job search to those employment opportunities most likely to fulfill us -- logically, emotionally, physically, AND spiritually.  So, if we want complete job fulfillment, it is wise to set the intention, and start with a good list of companies that match our own personal criteria. So get a list. With the list, you can build a plan. The list ought to have about twenty names on it. That's all. If you truly know in your gut who you'd like to work with, then you won't need more than twenty.


#2: The plan is to determine who I know at each of these companies on my list.  If I don't know anyone, then I need to get to know someone.  Not just anyone, but people who can influence the hiring manager.  This might mean joining networking organizations, such as RYZE (www.ryze.com) and LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com), or Commonwealth Organizations, or a Chamber of Commerce, or any other organization featuring leaders in power, such as Rotary.  If you don't know who or where these people are, do a search listing on the company name and their donations to various charities.  Get creative.  For example, if a manager at Xerox gave to the American Cancer Society, and I want to get into Xerox, then I want to know who at Xerox gave the money. It's fairly likely that the local American Cancer Society chapter representative might know who.  From there, I'm off and running, as it is the power of networking in action, and I can then say that "Sally Gentry from ACS referred me to you" -- a warm lead, versus a cold lead. The goal here is to take each networking lead and turn it into a warm introduction versus a cold call.  Think of any way possible to get to know people who work at the company, and then creatively find ways to get to know them, in a friendly and honest way.  This action goes beyond what 95% of all other job applicants will do, and this step is far more likely to get you in the door than any cover letter you could ever write.  Remember, it is not who you know, necessarily, but who you know who knows who. Beyond that, a unique approach usually begets a positive response.


#3:  Form (and write) a plan of action.  How can you get your information in front of the decision maker where it will get read?  As I write this I can think of one possible approach.  Send the hiring manager a hand-written invitation to dinner.  I bet only .0001% of the population utilizes this job-hunting tactic. Invite them to a bar-b-que.  Try to invite them to things where you can shine.  Try anything where you get a chance to show your personality, and then casually discuss skills and why they will benefit from hiring you, is more likely to get you hired than just sending Human Resources a resume. At the very least, send them something that will make them remember you. Perhaps, an example of your work? Remember, the key to your plan of action is to DIFFERENTIATE!  If you need to be different (stand out) from the pack, you must ACT in a DIFFERENT WAY.  Have fun by getting more creative.  Instead of sending a letter by mail, send it express mail.  How many times do people toss aside regular mail? Often.  How often do they toss aside a $14.00 Fed Ex?  Hardly ever. So send your introduction letter in a unique way. After all, you're not mass-mailing thousands of companies, you're only targeting ten to twenty.


#4:  The interview.  These tips will help secure a successful interview:  


    a)  Research each person you might interview:  their role, what they will look for, what they need to know about you to be impressed and want to work with you, and how they interrelate with the hiring manager.  Some of them will serve as screeners, others as key influencers, and others as peers. I've had Senior Vice Presidents and CEO's rubber stamp hiring decisions. So, be prepared for anyone. You must make a good impression upon each or you may lose the job opportunity to someone else. I once cleared seven interviews with Ernst & Young, only to be rejected on the eighth interview. I missed the needs of the person I'd be working most closely with: the accounting partner, and in missing I lost the job opportunity. So do your research.  Be consistent in your message to each, yet vary what you tell each of them enough so that they know you are not programmed. 


    b)  Dress VERY WELL for the job.  Look your part.  Be well-pressed, with polished shoes, styled hair, and dress a notch above the dress code for the job you seek. Be smart, too. If you're interviewing to be a contractor, would you show up in a suit, or with a tool belt around your waist? Consider your environment carefully and dress the part. You might consider pre-screening the office you're interviewing at during their lunch hour. In one hour you can see how people dress at the office and give yourself an idea what to wear.


    c)  Speak clearly, with confidence, hold your head high. One trick I use is to shout "YES!" and pump my fist in the air (out of sight of the employer, of course), to get myself SMILING and pumped up for the interview.  It is a physical/emotional state that you can create by simply pumping yourself up.  Hiring managers like to hire enthusiastic people who demonstrate high energy. 


    d)  Bring extra copies of your resume.  I can't remember how many times the hiring manager (and peers) failed to have my resume on hand.  And, if a recruiter had faxed my resume, how much better did my letterhead resume look than the fax copy?  So, bring extra. Being properly prepared is one of the top five reasons why people will hire you.


    e)  Bring examples of your work.  I cannot state the importance of this enough.  I've had more than one manager tell me that I am a master of presentations and the "lost art" of proposal writing. Nice compliments.  Now, I could "tell" my hiring manager this, or I could SHOW them. Which would have the most impact?  Don't underestimate the power of your work.  Often, people need to see it to believe it.  So SHOW them the quality of your work. Teachers put together a portfolio of work to demonstrate how they might interact with their classes. Why not utilize this technique in other industries? If you have reference letters, award certificates, examples of (good) writing, or other things that would show what type of employee you would be, then you ought to showcase this to your potential employer. 


    f)  Be courteous to everyone (especially the receptionist).  It should go without saying, but the person who greets you by telephone and walks you back to the meeting is one of the most important screeners you meet. When I interview potential candidates, I always ask the office administrator what he/she thinks of the candidate. Why? Because they see the candidate when their guard is down. My advice: keep your guard up and be polite to everyone you interact with at the potential hiring firm.


    g)  Ask intelligent questions.  If you can't think of any to ask, do more research with the thought process, "how can I help them?"  and "what might they need?"  and "what are they missing?"  By asking questions that others don't ask, you show you are prepared and demonstrate your ability to think.  Hiring managers like employees who can think creatively.  This is the most important part of the interview. So, have some questions you might ask written down in your notepad, prior to the interview, so that when you reach this point you are prepared to ask something pertinent to the position or the firm.


    h)  I believe in reverse psychology interviewing.  What do I mean by that?  Well, most people approach their interview from a reactive standpoint.  They answer questions, they try to show and say whatever the interviewer needs to see and hear.  Instead of taking that approach, try the proactive approach.  Have a list of questions, written down ahead of time, with key points to make for each interviewer.  Ask them questions that will illuminate the information YOU NEED TO KNOW to truly know if this is the company and job that will intellectually, emotionally, physically, and spiritually fulfill you.  Also, make sure to lead them to talk about money first. Whoever mentions money first loses in negotiations, so you want them to talk about money before you do. Most interviewers are pleasantly surprised when they find out you did your homework, you care about your career so much that you chose them, that they are far more likely to find a way to hire you.


    i)  Use your intuition.  Most CEO's will state that they made their most important decisions based upon their "gut feel" or "instincts".  These are creative phrases for intuition. Intuition is your number one most valuable asset, next to your ability to think and listen, so use it.  Trust that inner voice during the interview process.  This will help you stay calm and in control. If your intuition says, "I won't like working here" then don't accept their offer or even ask for one. We don't shine when we don't enjoy our work, and this process is all about loving our work and loving our life.


    j)  Ask for the job, with confidence.  I don't mean to imply you want the job.  I mean directly SAY "I want this job!  This job has my name all over it.  Here's why:"  Then list reason x, y, and z, even if you already told them those things during the interview.  It will reinforce the message you want to leave as you exit the interview.  This is such a critical step, if you fail to ask for the job, you likely will not get it.  Yet, we often get what we ask for, so ask for it, and then smile as they respond favorably to you.


    k) When you exit the interview, make some notes for follow-up. What three points did you just tell the interviewer were reasons to hire you? Make sure you remember. 


#5. Follow-up. When you get back to your home office, put these three bullets in a follow-up letter and send it out the same day. Follow-up is the #1 most important reason people get hired. The manager who hired me from college hired me largely because I had the best follow-up skills. That, and he liked me because his sister went to the same school I did and he liked that school. He saw me as a younger version of him.


#6.  The resume.  Let's take a closer look at the resume.  One company we have targeted in our search may receive over 100 resumes for just one job listing. Your resume must stand out from the other 100. How can we make our resume rise to the top of the stack?


a.  Is your name the biggest thing on the page?  It doesn't have to be.  Just make sure that your name, phone number, email, and address are clearly formatted at the top.

b.  How well does your resume speak of you?  Is your personality in the resume, or does it sound like so many other resumes.  For example:

"Organized budgets resulting in 30% cost savings" might look attractive to the typical resume writer.  To me, it stinks like a garbage dump.  Why?  


    >  Organized WHAT budget?  This is vague.

    >  30% cost savings TO WHO?  Again, this is vague and could be completely fabricated.

    >  What is the BENEFIT to the person who will HIRE YOU?  


A better statement would be:

"Impacted finance manager by reorganizing marketing budget to create 3x as much public relations exposure, with 30% less marketing budget expenditure."  Now we know WHO it helped, WHAT you did, and WHY it might matter to the hiring manager, by stating the benefit.  In the interview, they'll then be more likely to ask HOW you did this.   Be prepared with the detail to answer, in BENEFIT terms to the COMPANY or YOUR BOSS or YOUR CUSTOMER, how what you did truly helped your company.  This is the power of a resume in action.


Every line in your resume needs to be put to the test:  Ask the following questions:

    * Can this paragraph or group of paragraphs be stated more simply?

    * WHAT did I do here that mattered, TO WHO, and WHAT BENEFIT did it present to my company?

    *  What do I want the interviewer to ask me to slant the interview to my strengths and best contributions that most closely relate to the job I'm seeking?


What I'm getting at is you MUST know the benefit TO THEM. Period. Anything else is fluff.


Not sure how to figure it out? Try this technique:  with EVERY KEY EMPLOYER you list on your resume, get out a tape recorder, have it ready to hit record... then ask yourself this question, as if you are the interviewer asking the question to you, "if I asked this company why, in one sentence, should I hire YOU, what would your former manager tell me?"  Then hit record.  Record only for one minute.  Now, play the recording back.  Listen carefully to your answer.  I find that almost 90% of the time, our first sentence is the sentence that we need to capture on the resume.  THAT is our true personality, not all that other mumbo jumbo.  Try it, and see if it doesn't help.  At first, it may feel awkward, because we aren't trained to put our true personality into our resume. I've seen time and time again where someone will answer honestly, from their gut, when I ask that question. Then they think about it, and answer in the way they think is "correct" according to the resumes they've seen or heard about. The second answer is usually what most people put on their resume. My advice is to put the first response on it. Why? It's honest. It's real. It's who you are. As you hear what you said first said back to you through the recorder, you'll realize it truly is the statement that best captures what you did for that company.  


As for the final draft of your resume, make sure to save some information for the interview. Often, the information people list is just too much detail, which needs to be shared during the interview.  Think of it like this:  if the purpose of the resume is to get them to ask you questions, which questions do you want them to ask you, and what do you want to say when you answer?  This is your time to BRAG, yes, BRAG about how GREAT YOU ARE.  It is one of the few times in life people get to hear it like this.  I do not mean be overly cocky.  But ALWAYS present your skills in their VERY BEST LIGHT.


Every statement should indicate a BENEFIT to HIRING YOU over someone else.  Why?  Because 100 people may be applying for the same job you are.  And you want them to offer YOU the job.


Make sure your resume is formatted well, without spelling or grammatical errors.  These sloppy problems tend to make people think your work will also be sloppy.  


Keep your resume to one page or less, if you can.  Yes, maybe you have worked for ten companies.  Then list the most recent and keep the others to a simple line or two.  I consider writing a resume a challenge to my writing skills - with the goal being the ability to convey the most IMPORTANT THING I did at EACH COMPANY in as few and powerful words as possible.  Try it, and make a game of it.  It makes the process of writing a resume more fun. I once had a human resource manager at Dell ask me to list more information. They were looking for specific information, so I gave it to them. Use common sense with this and also make sure to list professional associations on your resume. Why? Associations show that you do more than work. They show you CARE. Along that same thought, if you're female, don't say you're a mother. This says you'll put your kids above your job. Of course you will. But you don't want to say it here. I prefer things like "Rotary, American Marketing Association, American Cancer Society" and so forth. Use the organizations and charities you work for and donate time and money to and you'll have the right list. If you KNOW they donate to a particular charity, send the charity some money, then list them, too. People like people who like things they like. Familiarity is good during interviews and familiarity on resumes builds bonds or gives them pleasant things to talk to you about. Just make sure you have solid facts behind everything on that paper!


#7:  More on following-up: after the interview, send a personally signed letter to the decision maker. Do not send an email, no matter how busy you are, because everyone else, if they follow-up, does this.  Instead, send a personally signed letter (on your resume paper for consistency).  Follow the letter up with a phone call timed two days after your letter should arrive.  Following that schedule enables the law of timing to work for you. In both the letter and the phone call, offer an idea of how you can contribute to the hiring manager's organization.  As a general rule of sales, I always made it a point to call/visit/write with something of VALUE - important also to the person buying from me.  This rule also applies in job-hunting.  This is follow-up that 90% of your competition neglects, and has been single-handedly the top reason I won more than two of my best jobs during my career.


How important is your time?  If you waste time (either your time or the prospective employer's time) during the interview process, either through the resume process, the submission, the interview, or the follow-up,  then you've shot yourself in the foot.  How much more successful could you make your interviewing process if you simply followed these steps to put your resume on the top of the stack and get that job offer you always wanted?  Go after it -- there is all the opportunity in the world for those who demonstrate creative thought and different ways of being great. Ask for what you want. Be clear, be professional, and accept the job you will love the most. Happy hunting!


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Scott Andrews is CEO and Founder of AspireNow (www.AspireNow.com), a leading business productivity and personal development firm based in California. AspireNow recently spun our business solutions into ARRiiVE Business Solutions (www.ARRiiVE.com) through whom we help organizations launch new products and services, maximize sales, and innovatively change businesses through  semantic collaboration business models and processes. For more information, contact info@ARRiiVe.com.



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