The job market is tough. And, as human beings we have a tendency to make things harder on ourselves than necessary. For a job seeker this can mean added pressures to secure an interview along with prep work, networking, and lots of research. It can be overwhelming trying to figure out what to do, what to say, and who to connect with.
Here’s a few things every job seeker should know about approaching the job hunt and interview process:
Take All Advice With a Grain of Salt
Your mother is telling you one thing, your old boss another, and then everything you find online says something completely different. Who do you listen to, and how do you know what advice to take?
The truth is, there is no one right answer when it comes to your job search. The only right answers are the ones that help you secure a job. This can mean a lot of trial and error, but it also means listening to what makes sense for you.
So why is there so much seemingly contradictory information out there when it comes to the job search? Because all of the information out there has worked for someone at some point in their career or is the particular preference or bias of the person writing about it.
But, industry, technology, and thought leadership are all constantly changing how the interview process is approached, and what works for one person doesn’t mean it will necessarily work for everyone.
For example, taking a sales approach to the interview process can be great for someone with an outgoing personality, but can be detrimental to someone more introverted with no actual sales experience.
The same applies to resume advice and how to layout your information–two different people with different career paths leading towards the same position may need to highlight their information differently on a resume in order to show off transferable skills and highlight their achievements.
The key with any advice and information you get from others or find online is to always ask yourself if applying the information puts you in a better light or helps you to stand out in a positive way.
If you are really struggling with information overload, try finding people in your field or situation who have been successful in landing a job and get examples of what they found helped their job search.
Every industry, role, and company is different on what they look for, so being able to see what works for your particular path can be helpful rather than relying on a lot of general information.
Try things out, but don’t be afraid to throw out an idea or adapt it if it’s not working for you.
You Can’t Do It Alone
Okay. Yes, you can do it alone, but it’s not to your benefit. No one person out there knows everything about the job search and trying to navigate it on your own can be exhausting.
But, I just told you everyone has conflicting advice and it may not apply–Yes, I’m even contradicting myself, but not really.
Again, it comes down to finding what works for you. But, having some sort of support during the search can make things a lot easier, not to mention it can help decrease the time it takes you to land a new position by having more sets of eyes on what you’re doing.
This is why an entire industry made up of resume writers, career coaches, and job experts has emerged.
If you don’t have the money to spare on getting the help of a professional, find one or two people you trust, who can be completely honest and candid with you and who have some experience with the job search.
Use them as sounding boards, editors, and coaches. Have them review your resume, practice mock interviews, and get their feedback on everything from outreach tactics to how you present yourself.
But, make sure you can handle brutal honesty of someone you care about, because your goal is to get a job and you need people around you who will tell you the truth, not what you want to hear. Otherwise, it may be worth the money to hire an expert.
Don’t Wing It
Whatever you do, don’t “wing it” when it comes to your job search. If you’re serious about landing a job, then take the job search seriously.
While some people are just naturally lucky, charismatic, and can think on their feet, this attitude towards the job hunt does not work for the vast majority of us.
Preparation is critical. While some people may seem lucky in that they can easily find a new job or land an opportunity, you should always remember the quote from Louis Pasteur, “Chance favors the prepared mind.”
The more prepared you are, the more opportunities you will be able to see and have your eyes open to. The more you know about yourself, the company, the position, and/or the industry you are pursuing, the more you can connect the dots and make things happen for yourself.
Too often as a job seeker you get so hyper-focused on finding a job, that you forget to look at yourself, who you are, and what you want out of a job.
While at a certain point in an exhaustive job search you may feel desperate enough to take any position, this attitude could be exactly why you are not landing the roles.
Companies want people who are a good fit, both in skills, culture, and desire to do the job. Many job seekers forget to actually ask themselves if they really want the job presented to them.
And, if it’s something you’re not crazy about, or haven’t even thought about, that often comes through subconsciously in the interview process.
Take time to know who you are, what you want, and what your goals are. If you just need any job to pay the bills, make sure that you convey a positive attitude that no job is too big or small for you and that you appreciate just having the work.
If you can’t stand the company you’re interviewing with, don’t interview. You might land a job only to be let go within a few weeks or quit because there’s not a fit, and while you might have secured a paycheck, you lost valuable time pursing a position of value to you, not to mention having to explain away a bad career decision.
Ask yourself the important questions and it could help you really define how to approach your search, what makes you stand out, and give you a redefined sense of purpose.
It may be a tough job market, even for a job seeker who does all the right things, but don’t let the job search overwhelm you. You are in control each day and can start fresh each moment to make things happen. Know yourself, be prepared, and build your team of support to get you to your next role.
Robin L. Rayburn is the Editor & General Manager of Interviewing.com. Robin was introduced to the recruitment industry in 2007 and her passion for people has never let her stray far from it since. In her spare time she manages her blog, RestlessPillow.com, tweets from @interviewingcom and @chitowntexan, and is always striving to help those around her who have a vision for success. You can also find Robin on LinkedIn and Google+.