Over the last couple months, I participated in my first real job hunt. I had searched for a job when I was a sophomore in high school but that consisted of little more than dropping off my resume at a few different restaurants around town. During this job hunt, I was low on time and if I was going to find an option besides my Praxis business partner, I had to go all out.
I made a mistake from the very beginning of my job search. I waited at least three weeks longer than I should have to get the process started. I won’t include it in the list but just as a tip, give yourself nearly twice as long as you think you’ll need to nail down a job. Every step of the job hunt process takes a while and that timing is rarely in your control.
A job search is a stressful, tedious, and aggravating process. Despite that, it was one of my most influential experiences during my time in Pittsburgh. I learned several important things to keep in mind when undertaking a job hunt of your own. These five points are a combination of things that worked for me and things I wish I knew beforehand.
1. Don’t Count On One Single Company
My first impulse when I began my search was to identify the perfect company for me. I tried to identify the company that had an amazing product, was growing exponentially, and had an appealing office culture. That company and position became my goal. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to have a dream job in your job search pipeline, but I took it too far. I spent far too long preparing my pitch deck for this one company instead of sending in applications to others.
It’s the same strategy you use in sales. Keep playing the numbers. Identify as many qualified companies as you can and go after them all. The very first step in your job search should be to send in applications to at least five companies. Ten is a more solid goal. This doesn’t mean you can send in shoddy applications and resumes. There’s no point in sending in an application if it doesn’t make a strong impact right off the bat. I understand it’s hard to walk the line between making an individual impact and filling out enough applications. But with the right strategy, it’s really not that overwhelming.
First off, don’t submit a resume. Submit a pitch deck. If you don’t know what a pitch deck is, follow that link and read my article on why they are far more powerful than a resume.
To save time and keep yourself from becoming overwhelmed, create your general pitch deck and personalize it for each of the companies you apply to. It still takes work to make sure you have a strong value proposition, but it’s worth taking the time.
2. Make Each Company Feel Special
The downside of applying to so many companies is that it can be easy to become too comfortable with the interview process. Aside from ability and drive, employers are looking for someone who loves the company, the product, and the tea
You have to treat each and every interview you go into like the company is your top choice. I made the mistake of coming across a little lackadaisical in one of my interviews and it hurt me. I’m not saying you should act as though they are the only company you are talking to. That makes it seem like you’re not serious about your job hunt. Just be sure to genuinely express why you love the company and why you want to add value for them.
3. Stick To Your Guns
Another mistake I made in one of my interviews was to appear too flexible. The interviewer told me the position I applied for was a little full and that it might be tough for me to fill. He asked if I was open to filling another position that I knew I wouldn’t enjoy as much. I told him I didn’t think that was the best use of my skill set but that I would like to create value for his company however I could.
At the time, I felt like this was a decent answer. I showed him I really cared about the company and that I wanted to be a part of it no matter what. Now I think it just comes across as weak. It makes it seem like you don’t really know what your real skills are. It also says you aren’t being genuine when you say you want to create value. If you would be able to create more value in a different role, then it doesn’t seem like you’re serious about doing amazing things for the company.
If it’s simply not a good fit, then fine. Let it go. But I think more times than not, the boss will be impressed by you sticking with the role you applied for and may seriously consider you for it.
4. Be Persistent
It’s protocol for companies to take a ridiculous amount of time during the hiring process. You have to recognize this and make sure you are the one pushing forward. Follow up within the week if you haven’t heard anything regarding your next step. Don’t berate the boss but you need to make sure you stay on top of their priority list.
If you get turned down for a position but you still really like the company, don’t give up. Approach the boss and present him with another option. Again, don’t say you’re willing to do anything. Come with a plan or another specific role you feel you would excel in.
5. Set Up An In-Person Meeting
You can only do so much over the phone or a Google Hangout. After finding an ideal candidate, a boss still has one big question looming over his head. Is this person going to get along with everyone and be a positive presence on my team? That can be hard to convey digitally. That’s why if you have the opportunity, do whatever you can to get in front of your potential employer. I know it would have taken several more weeks to get an offer from Guild Quality if I hadn’t made the trip down to Atlanta.
Once you get in their office, impress them with your skills and be a good interviewee. But at the same time, make them want to work with you. Be charming and delightful. If you are making friends with the employees within your first few hours, the boss is going to have extra incentive to hire you. Many bosses would rather hire a less talented candidate that gets along with their staff than someone who has a higher level of skill and no one likes.