Applying directly to job postings should represent no more than 20% of what you do. Getting referred to a job is 5-10X more effective than applying directly. If you’re going to apply, only apply to jobs when you’re a perfect fit for the skills and experience listed on the job description.
1. Leverage your understanding of the recruiter’s role. Many recruiters are gatekeepers who don’t know the job and will just box-check your skills and experiences. Others are extremely talented, who want to work with the best people to craft great career moves. You must avoid the former and seek out the latter.
2. Implement a 20/20/60 job-hunting plan. A job hunting plan requires a performance-based resume, an understanding of how recruiters find candidates, and applying through the backdoor. Networking is the key to the backdoor. It must represent 60% of what you need to do.
3. Focus on the job, not the money. It’s better to be underpaid than overpaid. Getting promoted or obtaining a big compensation increase will only occur after you’ve demonstrated great performance. You need to put yourself into these situations. Ignore anyone who says otherwise.
4. Present your strengths and weaknesses via short stories. No one believes general statements. You must validate each of your strengths with a specific example of how it was used in a real job situation. In addition, you need to demonstrate how you’ve turned your weaknesses into strengths. Never say you don’t have any weaknesses! It means you’ve stopped growing.
5. Divide and conquer by asking the universal question. Very early in the interview, or phone screen, you must ask the interviewer to describe the focus of the job, some of the big challenges, and how the new person’s performance will be measured. Pick at least two from this list. Then prove each is a core strength using the SAFW response below.
6. Practice the universal answer to any question. You need to be able to prove every strength with a specific example. Form your answer using the SAFW two-minute response: Say A Few Words – Statement – Amplify – few Examples – Wrap-up.
7. Weave the 10 Best Predictors of Job Success into Your SAFW Response. I just wrote a post for interviewers on how to evaluate your answers. Make sure you have an example proving you possess at least three or four of these strengths. Then during the interview ask if these traits are important for on-the-job success. Of course they will be. Then give your example. Note: this is a slam dunk!
8. Use the phone screen to minimize the impact of a weak first impression. Even if you make a good first impression, it’s important to ask the universal question (see above) early in the phone screen. Answering it correctly will increase the likelihood you’ll be invited to an onsite interview. This will help focus the actual interview on your past performance, instead of box-checking your skills and experience, or judging you on first impressions.
9. Uncover any concerns before the end of the interview. To determine where you stand, ask the interviewer about next steps. If they’re not specific, you probably won’t be called back. In this case, ask the interviewer what’s the biggest concern he/she has about your background. Then ask how the skill, trait or factor mentioned is used on the job. To overcome the concern, you’ll need to use the SAFW two-minute response to prove you can handle the requirement.
Getting a job for some is no fun. For all, it’s hard work. But working hard on the wrong things is a waste of time. So rather than complaining, take some advice from Jim Rohn: “Things will get better for you, when you get better.” Learning the ten techniques above is a great way to start.
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