Tag Archives: skills

You Should Never Go on a Job Interview

3-½ minutes to read

The most frequent complaint I hear from job seekers is they submit a lot of resumes and get few interviews. Countless people have told me, “I applied for this job that I fit perfectly and didn’t even get a call!” They seem to think if you submit a resume showing your skills you're entitled to an interview if not the job itself. This neglects the fact that a couple of hundred other people submitted resumes that show an equally ideal fit.

You Should Never Go on a Job Interview


The Funnel

If you think your resume will get you a job you’re kidding yourself. In today’s competitive market, if it does consider yourself as lucky as a lottery winner.  Don’t count on it happening again. Your resume has one purpose: To get you a meeting with the person who will decide who gets the job.

There are two paths to getting a job: the indirect and the direct. In the former, you submit a resume or application (sometimes both) through regular channels and hope for the best. You’re in a funnel designed to reduce around 200 applicants to five. Yes that’s right, on average 5.2 people are interviewed for a job. It’ll take more than the luck of the Irish to make the cut. (I’m writing this on St. Patrick’s Day don’t you know.)

The second path is how most if not all the people the company spoke with got their meetings. While they may have submitted a resume through the regular process, someone inside the company had it pulled and given consideration apart from the masses. Otherwise they sent it straight to the decision maker or someone in the company who passed it along to him. Your resume is your calling card. No more, no less.

You Want a Meeting Not a Job Interview

While in the 19th century interview and meeting were synonymous, today they’re not. An interview is an oral examination of an applicant for a job, college admissions, etc. In other words, you’re the supplicant. If you go in with a beggar’s mindset you’ll most likely come out empty handed.

How do you know you want, let alone will love a job, before you meet the people with whom you’ll be working? Why would a company hire you if you sit passively in an interview answering questions? Will this convince them you’ll be proactive in contributing to the company?

Stop wishing for a job interview. Get a meeting with the decision maker.

Attending a meeting is better because:

  1. Your mindset improves. You are not a supplicant. You’ll talk with the decision maker about how you and the company can benefit. This is what two competent professionals do.
  2. You can demonstrate leadership. You have 50% of the responsibility for making it work. Set your agenda. You should have researched the company and industry. What issues remain open? The better the questions you ask the more likely you are to get hired. A leader knows the ability to ask great questions is as important as having answers.
  3. You can showoff your expertise. No company is going to pay you a high salary so you can learn the business. You can discuss how receptive the organization is to your ideas for improvements that will grow the bottom line. Afraid your suggestions might be rejected and you won’t get the job as a result? Do you want to work in a situation where your initiative is stifled? Isn’t it better to know your perspective doesn’t mesh before you take the job?
  4. The final decision is mutual. Until you’ve heard what the company has to say you should be no more committed to taking the job than the company is to hiring you.  After the meeting you can follow up just like you would in any business situation. In the final analysis, the company should be as excited that you’ll accept an offer as you are about working at the company. If it’s not, you won’t have any leverage negotiating salary or anything else. Will you get any respect?

Until you give up begging for a job interview and starting setting up meetings you won’t find the job you want. In the end, you’ll hate going to work or end up starting another job hunt soon after getting hired.

Treat yourself like the professional you want a company to hire and pay well. If you don’t, nobody else will either.

How to you keep from feeling needy or desperate when you badly need work? Please comment below.

How to Make a Powerful First Impression

3 minutes to read

First impressions. Everyone forms them and is subject to them. No relationship begins without a first impression. In some cases, you can overcome a situation that starts off on the wrong foot. If you’ve recovered from such an experience, you know how difficult it is getting back on track. In most cases the old adage, “you never get a second chance to make a first impression,” rules.

How to Make a Powerful First Impression

The Dominance of a First Impression

Harvard Psychologist Nalini Ambady and her colleague Robert Rosenthal examined the power of first impressions. In the 1990s, they did a series of experiments comparing the ratings given to college professors by students at the end of the semester with ratings that another group of students gave the same professors based only on three ten-second silent video clips shown prior to any actual lectures.

Ambady and Rosenthal found both groups essentially agreed on how good or bad the professors were. As far as their performance ratings were concerned, the first impression from ten seconds of silent video counted for almost as much as a whole semester’s worth of interaction.

Think about that in the context of an HR person reviewing 100 or more applications for a job. While you may get more than 10 seconds, in this first screening he’s looking for any reason to weed you out.

Controlling How People Perceive You

As a chaplain, I faced this issue every day. At stake was whether people would come to me when they needed help. Fortunately, the two decades I spent in business prepared me to quickly establish rapport with people.

These days, with so much of business happening online, someone’s first impression of you is likely to be based on something you write. Especially if you’re looking for a job, your resume and a cover letter is a company’s introduction to you. That being the case, you’re being assessed on your writing skills. It’s a good idea to know what to do. Here are some guidelines:

  1. Customize everything – You’re communicating with individuals. Even if they don’t treat you that way, get in the habit of customizing cover letters, resumes, and everything else.
  2. Spelling counts – While it’s true that some people don’t care about spelling, how will you know if that’s the case with the person you’re writing to? You cannot rely on spell checkers since they don’t detect the wrong word. Stick with the standard spelling of words unless you prize creative spelling over your finances.
  3. Grammar counts too. Do you know the difference between the homonyms there, their, and they’re? I can’t tell you what percentage of HR people do but I bet it’s high. Yet countless times I receive correspondence using the wrong one. There are numerous grammar traps to trip you up. Check out the Grammarly Blog. You’ll get great information in an easy to understand and fun format.
  4. Double and triple check before sending – Proofread everything, whether it’s a casual email or a formal letter. While Microsoft Word purports to check syntax, it is not infallible. Have someone else read what you write, especially if it’s important.

Your high school English teacher was right. Your ability to clearly express your thoughts in writing is a crucial skill. Your access to the marketplace where you plan to turn all your other skills into a high-income career rests on the first impression you give, in writing.

What resources do you use to improve your writing skill? Please comment below.

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