10 killer tricks to land your dream job

Everyone wants to work in a role where they feel fulfilled, motivated and energised to do their best. Finding your dream career is not usually easy. The current job market is tough and it takes dedication and hard work to land a job that you’ll be excited to turn up to, every single day.

The good job roles are out there, it’s just that there are usually many candidates that want them. Landing your dream job when you have little or no experience in an industry (or at all, if you are new to the job market) can be challenging but I’m here to tell you that it is certainly not impossible!

Follow these 10 tips and get your foot in the door of your dream job in 2014!

1. Cold-calling

Believe it or not, the business world has been turning around much longer than email and the internet. So, how did people connect before Facebook? By using the phone! Calling people and speaking to them can help to forge a better, deeper and more personal relationship that the one that can be garnered by connecting via digital means alone. Why? Because it is often easier to fob someone off when you don’t have to speak to them.

Make a list of the top 10 or 20 companies that you would like to work for and hit the phones. There is a skill and an art to effective cold-calling. Do your research, use a script, prep before the call and be persistent. Here is a great article which will give you some handy tips on effective cold-calling.

2. Reach out – send your resume

Another great way to get your foot in the door of your dream job is to send out a personalised copy of your resume, with a cover letter, suggesting roles that you might be suitable for. While this can seem a bold step, it often works, particularly in small industries where there are a limited number of players.

Find out who the boss is, and who heads the department where you would like to find work. Research the company as much as you can. Locate their (professional) social media feeds on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. When sending your resume and cover letter, make it as personal as possible.

3. Find a mentor

By far, one of the best ways to connect with an industry is to find a mentor who has invested in your career to a certain extent. People in positions of power and influence are always busy, but many of the good ones make time in their schedules to talk to and mentor up-and-comers who show dedication, skill and enthusiasm.

Finding a mentor can be challenging, but by far the most important part of the process is finding someone who is a good personality match to you, with shared values and ideals. Here is a great wikihow article on how to identify and find a mentor in your local area.

4. Send something eye catching

Have you heard about the woman who scored her dream job by baking a gruesome cake? Like sending a personalised resume and cover letter, sending something eye-catching to a hard-to-reach contact can be a winner. This is particularly true if you are seeking work in a creative industry, such as graphic design, TV promotions, fashion or hospitality.

Remember, that the worst thing that can happen is that you do not get a job. Be creative! Think outside the square and let your imagination run wild. Make sure you think through your actions and always, always follow up with a call or email.

5. Find 5 contacts at your level and remain in contact

As well as finding a mentor, it is also good to make five contacts within industry that can keep you informed on the sector and what’s happening. These could be friends, former colleagues, friends of your family or even friends of friends.

Look to sites like LinkedIn to make connections, or connect with people via social media. Does the sector you are hoping to work in have any specialist websites where you can post and comment on current issues? These are all great ways to make casual contacts who can aide in your job search, even if they are not in the direct position to get you a role.

6. Volunteer or intern

Previously in Australia, internship was known as work experience and it was something that students often did for a week or two while they were at school, TAFE or university. These days, the popularity of internship is rising in Australia, often with mixed reports about how fair the arrangement is.

For some industries, internship or volunteering is essential to finding work, particularly in very competitive sectors such as design, media, photography and events. If you are looking to work for an environmental cause, here’s a resource on finding work in the green/environmental industries by volunteering.

7. Get involved in sector activities

Whether you’re hoping to work in hairdressing, marketing, window cleaning, painting and decorating or accounting there are industry events and activities happening in Australia. Depending on where you live, it may be easy or difficult to get to these events.

Look for trade shows, open days, conventions and other events that you can attend to meet contacts and see new industry trends. Start your research online and keep in touch with your contacts to see what’s going on. If you can’t attend an event personally, try to connect with someone who may be going and ask if you can call or email them for a review of what happened.

8. Be a good listener

A great tactic in all business, being a good listener is a top skill to have. As Stephen R. Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People says: “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Learning to listen effectively can be a great tactic to eventually land your dream job.

Keep your ear to the ground and listen carefully to what people have to say. When you make contacts and connections, listening can be a great tactic. Make any contact more ‘about them’ than ‘about you’. Sell yourself and your skills, but listen to what they need, what they are really saying and what information they are trying to impart. Show yourself as a mature and valuable potential future employee.

9. Ask for advice and help

Once you have a mentor or some networking contacts- use them! Ask them questions, listen to their advice and take information onboard. It’s also important to be specific. This great post from Brazen Careerist mentions the one biggest mistake that people often make when asking for advice: being too unspecific.

When you need help, you need to have done some of the work yourself. Nobody is going to take over your job search for you and land you a job. You have to take the initiative to find out as much as you can, so you can ask intelligent, well-planned questions. If you need spoon-feeding, you’ll soon have your mentors and contacts off-side and you may come across as unmotivated and lazy.

10. Research, research, research!

There are now so many ways you can gather information about the industry you are hoping to find work in, the main players in the sector in Australia and the various companies, businesses and people that make up the employment portfolio.

Check out this excellent infographic on research tips to help you land your dream job. It suggests everything from Googling the name of your interviewer to joining the company’s Facebook page. What are some ways you can research without using online resources? Check your local library or community centre to see what else you can find.

What are your tips? Tell me! 

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How to market yourself like a product to get a job

Marketing. There’s barely a product sold without it. When you market something, you highlight its best features to a potential customer. You need to demonstrate the benefits that product will bring to the consumer.

Finding a job can be like marketing yourself as a product. Think about it. The recruiters, managers and bosses of this world will only ever get to see a ‘snapshot’ of any potential staff they are planning to hire. How do you make a good impression with the limited time, tools and resources you have?

Here are some ways to employ traditional marketing techniques to market yourself like a product to reach your employment goals.

What are your best selling features?

You will have a lengthy list of saleable features. If you don’t, you are simply not thinking hard enough. For this list, nail down your five most essential qualities. Are you super-organised? Do you have technical know-how? Impeccable grammar skills? Think of your five most marketable qualities and keep these at the top of your list when talking to employers about yourself.

Honestly, what are your product weaknesses? Do you need to be honest about them or can you hide them?

We all have flaws and as we progress in our careers we become better at working with them and recognising them. You won’t be awesome at everything and knowing when you need to get help or spend extra time on a task can be a valuable asset. Look at your product’s flaws and make the most of them, or disguise them by emphasising the skills you do have.

Where do you fit in the current market? Are you unique, is there a market for you?

Are your skills in demand? Are there lots of people competing for work in the marketplace? Think about your unique skills and how you might stand out from the pack. Do you have additional skills? Would you be prepared to do some interning to gain experience? Do you need to do additional training to up-skill yourself?

Who can use you? What will they need you for?

What industries need workers like you? Think outside the square. Look at other skills you may have and how these can transfer. If you are looking for work, spend some time honing your targets. Think of companies that you want to target as well as industries. Consider contacts you may have in these areas and see if they can help identify who might be able to use your skills.

Where do those people go when they need something? How can you reach them?

How do you find work? Are jobs in your industry even advertised? Where are they advertised? Many industries have specific publications that they list positions on. Some larger employers have a ‘jobs available’ tab on their homepage. Are there jobs in the industry you are targeting on LinkedIn? Consider all your avenues when marketing yourself as a product.

Let’s look at your packaging.

When you are job seeking, it’s important to present yourself well. Your packaging in this case could include your resume and cover letter, as well as your professional appearance. What impression do you give? What impression is your industry expecting to get from potential staff? Could you present yourself in a way that stands out?

What can potential employers see of you?

Consider the following areas: resume, online footprint, references, look and presentation. If you manage to get your foot in the door, what can be seen of you? If you google your name, what shows up? Does this present a coherent message? Are you on-brand? Remember that you can tweak your image to suit certain occasions. Your hard-copy resume (if you still have one) might contain more information than your succinct, online resume on LinkedIn.

When the last time you updated your messaging?

A well marketed product updates its messaging frequently. Imagine if Coca Cola was marketed to us in the same way as it was 20 years ago. Times change and so should your messaging.

Will you perform as promised (really)?

Be aware of your flaws and faults and be honest with yourself about these. Never lie to a potential employer, aim to be as honest and as truthful as possible so that you don’t run into any trouble down the line. If your product doesn’t perform as you said it would, this will be bad for your career in the long run.

Do you provide follow up services?

Every good product comes with support! Even if you are not successful with gaining a job initially, it can pay to keep in contact with people and companies you have applied to before. When you begin applying for roles, keep a good list of jobs you have identified as potential matches to your skills, a list of jobs you have applied for and a list of places that have knocked you back or called you in for an interview. Sometimes no simply means ‘not now’.

this is a poto of alyce at work

Looking for a job? What do recruiters look for in a candidate?

Human resources recruiters have a big job. Increasingly, they have to sort through dozens or even hundreds of resumes for one single position. They are often time poor and need to be able to assess your qualities quickly.

When you are job seeking, you need to remember a few things that will make the process easier for both the recruiter and for you. By taking the following things into account, you could help to set yourself ahead of the pack.

1.      Enthusiasm and upbeat personalities

Think of a recruiter who has to fill a position. They will be assessing your personality within only a few seconds of meeting or speaking with you. For example, if you receive a phone call saying, “Hi, this is Recruiter X and I wanted to discuss your application for opportunity Y.” The worst thing you could say here is, “Huh?”

The best answer to give would be to say, “Yes, thanks for calling. I have been very excited about the opportunity since I first saw it advertised.” It’s the same deal if you are called to meet with a recruiter in person. Smile, look confident and have a strong, positive personal energy.

2.      Business integrity and ethics

Strong candidates give an impression of having a solid foundation for their work experience. Speaking poorly about your former bosses or colleagues is a no-no. Lying is also one way to get the HR recruiter offside. Be as honest as you can and try to think of responses to tricky questions in advance.

Show respect. The director of a large international company, Philippa Foster Black, has said, “Not only is ethical behaviour in business life the right thing to do in principle, we have shown that it pays off in financial returns.” Her research showed that ethical businesses outperformed non-ethical businesses consistently.

3.      People who are not arrogant or too over-confident

Confidence is an important trait to display but arrogance is not. Arrive on time, make eye contact, listen to the person you are speaking to and do not interrupt. Don’t brag about your achievements and don’t try to “one-up” the interviewer or recruiter.

Often arrogance is a cover for people’s weaknesses and insecurities. Looking for a job role can be difficult, and often our confidence can take a knock with every rejection. Have faith in yourself and prepare well; this can be a good way to build up your confidence.

4.      Candidates who can keep calm and deal with their nerves

Speaking to a recruiter can be a stressful situation. Getting an interview and having to present yourself can be even more stressful. Don’t over dramatize the situation, put things into perspective. Sometimes, having a familiar ritual can be a good way to ease stress and help keep you calm.

If you come across as being full of nerves, the human resources recruiter may decide to go with another candidate who is able to present themselves better. Some nerves are normal and being well prepared and confident can help you to give off the right impression.

5.      Those who ask for more time with tricky questions

If you get thrown a curly question that you are unable to answer right away, ask to come back to the question at the end of the interview. This can be a good technique to give you some time to collect your thoughts. Try to think in advance of the questions you are likely to be asked.

Be honest about your experience and try to think of specific examples of work you’ve done and things you have achieved. It’s important that you do as much research as you can in advance as this can help you come across as a strong candidate.

6.      Candidates who have not smoked or had strong coffee or smelly food beforehand!

This may seem like a small point but it’s a definite no-no to show up for a face to face meeting smelling like smoke. Take a good fifteen minutes to compose yourself before going in for a meeting or an interview.

Having good personal hygiene and impeccable grooming shows that you have both self respect, and respect for the recruiter. Make sure you look fresh and are on time. Your outfit should be appropriate and should be free of stains and marks.

7.      A candidate who is a good cultural fit for the team

The main three things the recruiter will be asking themselves are: Can this person do the job? Can this person do the job here? Can this person do the job now? To assist you in giving the impression that you can meet the requirements of the role, preparation is key.

Can you research what type of culture the company has? Are they a ‘suits and ties’ or ‘T shirts and jeans’ culture? What sort of hours does the team work? How diverse is the workplace environment? By taking the time to ask questions and prepare in advance with research you will give yourself a better chance at being successful.