This article first appeared on Alpha Efficiency Magazine: Issue 2: Communicating, subscribe and buy here
The Goal Of A Job Search
Goals are extremely connected to communication, and often our goals are unattainable without the proper communication channels. I’ve learned to communicate effectively during the process of looking for a job, and the thing I’ve learned is that effective communication is very similar to the marketing techniques that we apply in online business.
Communicating Effectively in a Job Search
There are several stages that I’ve been throughs in my job search, and completing all of these successfully made me more confident of my employment over all. Most of the time the foundations of communicating effectively are found in sales.
Stages in Effective Job Communication
Previously I’ve mentioned the list of communication-related to job search, and you need to master all pretty much all of them before you actually score a job.
Send Out Resumes and Cover Letters
First, you need to realize that at this stage of job search you are collecting leads. This is the part of the “job search game”, where you need to make yourself stand out. Standing out is pretty cliché advice, but you need to understand that it is extremely relevant to your success.
Writing out a resume template is going to be the first step in your marketing strategy on the job market. Template resumes will work if you are applying for a specific role suited to your experience. If you are applying in multiple or unrelated fields I highly recommend that you make templates tailored to those specific roles.
The Secret Ingredient to Standing Out
Read job postings. It’s that simple! Inside the job posting is all the relevant information required for you to get a lead into your prospective employer. I have found through personal observation and testing, that when you make simple tweaks to emphasize moderately the needs that employer is looking for, you dramatically increase your chances to stand out.
Remember those job postings where the ad says people with previous experience in “software X” highly preferred?
Including that you have basic proficiency for “Software X” is going to significantly increase your chances to score a phone interview, or the interview itself. Sometimes you can oversell yourself; you are fighting for the opportunity to capture a qualified lead for the role.
Qualified leads are those employers that are actively interested in you as a candidate, as opposed to those that want to invite you for an interview only to fulfill an interview quota set by a senior manager.
If you did bend the truth a little, and say you have basic experience in “software x” the only thing you need to do is actually watch the Lynda tutorial and say that you’ve been actively learning for that particular software for the needs of your previous role.
The final piece of advice is to learn these skills AFTER you have an interview or phone interview scheduled. Prior to might be a waste of your time, that you could utilize more effectively by prospecting for interesting job opportunities.
Follow Up on Email
Sometimes you will get interview invitations via email. My current employer scheduled an interview with me, and then the hiring manager completely forgot about it. Don’t get insulted, and above all don’t be shy. Be bold in communication and make an inquiry about your potential interview. Had I not done that, I wouldn’t have the job that I have today.
How to Behave on a Phone Interview
Phone interviews are screening; they are often done by an assistant or someone lower in the organizational rank. These screenings are designed to weed out the people that have poor interpersonal skills or don’t have enough expertise to get the role. In phone interviews, you have only one weapon: your voice.
Communicating clearly with your voice is the number one priority required for you to score another round of phone screenings or a potential interview. A major mistake I made in phone interviews was forgetting to research the company. My schedule was pretty hectic as it was, but overlooking this fact cost me potentially good positions.
Try to learn as much information on problems that are slowing the company growth, and try to emphasize those during the screening. Most importantly you need to relax, and the fact that you are in the privacy of your own home should make this easier.
On the Interview
Carry yourself with confidence, and I can’t stress this enough. Your life doesn’t depend on this particular interview, it depends on your skill to go through these and not feel emotionally affected by the outcome of each single interview. Humor is always a good tool, but don’t over do it.
Things that you should focus on:
- Do not talk longer than 90 seconds
- Better overdressed than underpaid
- Keep calm
If you are drilled down by HR, you will face the usual set of crap questions like – where do you see yourself in 5 years – and another plethora of nonsense. The purpose of HR is not as determinantal in terms of your skills, as much as it is about your interpersonal skills, which most of the people are afraid of. These questions are easy, and after a couple of interviews, you can nail them down to perfection. My personal favorite is a question where they ask you – why do you think you are the ideal candidate for this role? – . On this type of question, it is critical to emphasize material that will trigger HR to see a natural fit for the type of position where they can justify your role and have long-term meaning attached to it.
Your Questions for the Company
After they drill you down with questions on your expertise you have the honor of having the grand closing because the questions you ask reveal more about your attitude than the answers to pre-canned questions. This is your opportunity to shine!
First, when you ask the questions, you need to truly feel that you are screening the company, as a potential employer, and make them try to sell themselves to you. Usually, these types of questions are left towards the end, which is offering you a strong punch line to demonstrate your confidence and intuitive understanding of the role that you are applying for. This is basic framing that will effectively make you stand out way more than other candidates.
What are your current results in “field you are applying for” and What is the KEY performance indicator that you expect me to achieve within first 6 months of my employment? – with this question, you are demonstrating that you are committed to results, and if you understand the field you are applying for, this will allow you insider chit-chat on the industry, and generally give you insight into the company.
Where do you see my role in three years? – this is a reverse question of where do you see yourself in 5 years and demonstrates that you have plans for future career development. I am not sure how many applicants ask this question, but in my opinion, the answer on it is the deciding factor on whether the company is the right fit for me or not. When I ask this question I assume the position of power and literally assume the control over whether this business is a waste of my time or not.
Question the company stability – don’t be afraid to ask questions about the revenue they are collecting and how stable are those sources. This is the specifically targeted question. towards marketing agencies, and their client distribution. The purpose of this question is to demonstrate them that you are not interested in working with amateurs and that the stability of the company is determining factor in your decision.Mandatory questions on the company culture** – this way you are giving them some space to sell themselves to you, and try to lure you in with all the perks that they might have. Usually, this question tells you whether they are considering you for the role. If they talk about company culture with excitement, then they are trying to sell themselves to you, especially if they start talking about benefits and unpaid time off.
Mandatory questions on the company culture – this way you are giving them some space to sell themselves to you, and try to lure you in with all the perks that they might have. Usually, this question tells you whether they are considering you for the role. If they talk about company culture with excitement, then they are trying to sell themselves to you, especially if they start talking about benefits and unpaid time off.
Questions NOT to ask!
As I stated the questions are the extremely valuable weapon you can use to further sell yourself, they shouldn’t be targeted towards what you can get out of the company, as those represent you as selfish and being guided with self-interest. So big no-nos are questions about:
- Health insurance
- Paid time off
- Flexible working hours
- Anything related to your compensation
Final Thoughts and Next Steps
If you apply this common sense advice, I am comfortable that you will increase your income, won’t feel insecure about your position in any working environment and you will deliver more results to your company because you won’t feel afraid while you work.
Make a contingency plan, and make it a habit to be constantly in the job market game. When you are on the lookout for new opportunities, you will always be in the position to renegotiate your current salary, with your current employer, in the moments you get an offer from another company. If your current employer can’t match the offer, you can feel secure about walking away, with no impact on your lifestyle.
This way you also keep your interviewing skills sharp and improve your communication skills, while constantly being on the edge of your industry.