How to get the job of your dreams!

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I am worth it!

I have been involved in law and regulatory compliance management, in sales and marketing for over a three decades. Now, I am a writer and a preacher and I meet and discuss with thousands of people all around the world. I own many Blogs and Websites including the futurist daily news, and the preacher, all of them dedicated to today and Tomorrow and preaching on how to build a better world.

Getting a good job in these difficult times is not easy. Getting the job of your dreams, unless you create it is even more difficult.

I read so many books that I do not remember where the inspiration came from when I wrote these lines. Whatever and wherever it is coming from, if this article is of any assistance, do not be shy: let it know, Facebook it, Digg it, Tweet it, Stumble it, Pinterest it, Tumblr it and spread the word!

You want to find the right employer?

            You have to do your homework: Use the Internet, consult the appropriate trade magazines and make a list of companies you would like to work for. Get feedback from existing employees.

            Have a network and talk to people: Facebook, LinkedIn and other social networking sites are a good way to find people who already work in your targeted companies. Reach out; ask for information, advice and assistance.

            Do not wait for vacancies: The classified pages of newspapers and trade magazines may be a good source of possible jobs or candidacy for your short list, but the best jobs and the best leads to the best job opportunities will always come from your personal contacts. Employers receive hundreds of replies for every job opening they advertise. They are overwhelmed with resumes and they are often far more likely to pay attention to an existing employee’s recommendation.

            Know what you want and stick to the plan: Write down your own job description and the list of requirements for your ideal job and ideal employer. What is your job title? What are you going to do? What kind of company or employer are you looking for? How big is your dream?

            Now that you know what you want and what you are looking for, think rifle not shotgun: It is always better to focus on a handful of good matches than shotgun hundreds of resumes through either Internet, fax or an agency.

            Agencies: Back in my days, online recruiters like Monster.com and all similar job.com things did not exist. Most agencies like any job prospector used to fax-spammed resumes to every company on their list. Today, online agencies are just more efficient at doing the same thing. Not good!

            Be committed: My view of agencies is that it is okay to use them if you are that absolutely desperate to find a job but it is your job, your life and you need to be fully engaged with the process. Do not let someone else decide what is best for you.

Write an excellent cover letter

            Write an outstanding personal cover letter: Your cover letter is your first chance to personalise your application and make a first good impression. There is no second chance to make a first good impression. Be brief and specific. A cover letter is always a very good opportunity to show any prospective employer that you know something about his company, about his business and to demonstrate your enthusiasm.

            Do not make spelling mistakes: Spelling mistakes alienate every business people that I know. Use a spell checker if necessary but never trust a spell checker. Instead, get someone you trust to proofread your documents. If still in doubt, hire a professional.

            Don’t be a bozo or at least, do not showcase yourself as one: Do not name the wrong company or the wrong addressee.  Do not misspell any names.  Make sure you send the right resume to the right person, to the right employer. Avoid phrase that will make you look like a complete idiot, phrases like: “I am looking for a job on Wall Street” while you are applying for a job in social services.

            Have a professional presentation: Do not over design your resume. Keep a professional and conservative look. Make your cover letter short, only half a page if possible. It shall do it.  Double-check who you are applying to. Double-check their name, title and address. 

            Prepare an email version of your application: Make it shorter and more focused. Use only short declaratory sentences.

            Apply direct especially if you think that you are not going to get the job you apply for: It is worth using every opportunity to make a good first impression and to practice making a good first impression. You never know what can happen and you will be ready when the time will come.

Write a compelling resume

            Get good advice: Ask your friends. Ask HR professionals. Find mentors. Read advice online.

            Make sure to have a professional presentation: As for the cover letter, your resume should be neat, grammatical and properly spelled.

            Be brief: Unless you have had a very illustrious career, there is no need to use more than one page for a resume. If the prospective employer does not find what he is looking for on the first page, he will never read the second page. Second pages are rarely read.

            Always get a second opinion: Have an honest friend to review your resume so that you can avoid saying something that does not say what you meant it to say. 

            Do not play slick or scary: People do not always share the same tastes or humour. Keep your resume straight. Try not to amuse, to scare or to lure your prospective employer.

            Make sure not to show that you are a job-hopper: Employers are always very wary of ‘job-hoppers’.  More than a couple of jobs of less than 12 to 18 months of employments always look pretty bad and are indicative of either some very serious problem with your work or with your attitude.  If you have a lot jobs showing on your resume, make sure to have a very convincing explanation for it.

            Use references wisely: Generally, employers will not take up references until after they make you an offer. Mainly, what they will want to make sure of is if you are who you say you are.  If you do have to give references, make sure they are people who can claim some sort of independent judgment, not your mother.

            Get yourself championed: There is a big difference between a reference on a resume and someone who actively champions your cause. If you can find someone, a mentor, a rabbi, a priest, an official, a scholar who can get you in front of the right people and champion your cause, do it.

            Do not make or conceal stuff up that can be verified: Never conceal or improvise something that the press can easily discover or uncover.

            Double-Check everything before sending anything: Applications with the names of competitors in the covering letter are killers. Mail merge failure is a sign that you lack attention to detail.

How to get an interview, even if there is no vacancy

If you have done your research, you should now have a list of targeted companies and targeted individuals within those companies. You can either decide to spam them with your resume, what I absolutely do not recommend unless you are suicidal or send them the 15 minutes chat and introductory email. What you are trying to do is get a brief face-to-face meeting to introduce yourself. It is not a job interview but it is a good step towards getting one. Remember: the best jobs are not the ones that are advertised but the ones that are not and the best way to get them is to get face to face with someone with who you can build a personal relationship:

What you do is this:

            First, find the right opportunity: Monitor your targeted companies using either Google News or any other media so you can spot a good hook for your email.

            Then, find the right person to hook: Ideally, you would like to get an introduction or referral from someone from your own personal and professional network. If there is nobody that could be of any assistance, find someone in your targeted company.

            Then, send your introductory email: Make it short and sweet. Just send something like this:

            Subject: Referral from Whoever The Name

            Dear Mr. Happy Employee of my targeted company,

            Congratulation on your …. I guess this means you will need more …. Whoever The name suggested that I contact you because of my expertise as a … and the fact that I am now looking for an opportunity in your field of occupation … Whoever The Name would be happy to provide you with more information on my credentials: WhoeverTheName@Recommandme.com. I would like to meet with you for a short period of time so I can learn a bit more about your trade and your business and ask for your advice about how I could become part of your winning team. Can you spare 15 minutes sometime next week? Best wishes, John Looking Forward To Meet You

            Now that you have your 15 minutes: Get there on time, introduce yourself, be liked, and ask for help. Most importantly, do not forget to leave after the allotted time: this is not a job interview; it is about finding a friend, about learning more about your targeted employer and showing that you have some initiative. If you do it right, if you pull it off, you now have a new friend, an insider that will help you out. This is a better investment of time than spamming a hundred companies with a me-too resume.

Interviews

Most employers would tend to do two or three rounds of interviews.  The first would be a short interview to make sure that you would fit in and to see if you are the person you say you are on your resume.  A second interview would be more specific and lengthy: it would focus on your suitability for a particular project or position and you would get to meet prospective team members. A final interview with senior management would indicate that you are on the home straight. The whole process will usually take two or three weeks, occasionally longer if there are any changes in the project schedule.

            Dress conservatively: Nobody expect people to dress up for an interview but it never hurts to look reasonably smart. Clean jeans and a pressed shirt are going to look better than a creased old wrinkled suit that does not fit any more. Of course, different jobs have different dress standards. Find out about these standards before showing for the interview. If in doubt, call ahead and check. As a default, a good suit and tie work for almost all interviews.

Some basic reminders:

            Be punctual: Call if you are going to be late. If you can’t get to an interview or change your mind about going, please let the company know in good time. 

            Prepare: You should come prepared you’re your own questions, something like: how do you organise training? How will my work be assessed? How do you ensure projects come in on time? Describe a typical team?

            Show some interest: An interview is a good opportunity for you to show some interest in the company or business of your targeted employer.  Before the interview, look at their website and think of a couple of company or business related specific questions.  In the first interview you may not get a lot of time for questioning. Whatever the case may be, just make sure that all your questions are and will be answered before you accept any job offer.

            Be friendly but avoid being unctuous: Be enthusiastic, affable but avoid being pushy or obsequious. Pay attention but do not consider an interview like the boardroom in The Apprentice.

            Always shake hands firmly: If you suffer from nerves and sweaty palms, discreetly wipe you hand on your clothes before the handshake is required. There is nothing worse than a wet fish sissy handshake.

            Hygiene matters: Candidates not showing attention to basic hygiene, like bathing, brushing teeth or wearing clean clothes create a very bad first impression.

            Be respectful: Denigrating your previous employer is a no-no.

Most importantly:

            Always write a thank you letter: After an interview a short polite letter to the main person who interviewed you is always a good idea. Say “thank you” and highlight anything you feel you might have missed during the interview or anything you would like to emphasise.  Very few people do this and this is a very good way to make a strong, positive second impression.

            And get a hobby: To make a first good impression, you need to look like you have a life so if you don’t have any hobbies, get some.

Salary negotiation

            Pick the right moment: The right time to negotiate your salary is always after a job offer has been made. This puts you in the strongest position. You now know they want you.

            Know what you are worth: During the interview, always expect to be asked to give some indication on your salary expectations so that the prospective employer can make sure that you are likely to fit into its budget. When asked, provide a range that will fit in their budget, based on the responsibility required by the job or by reference to your previous salary.

            Make sure to do your homework: You should think about your salary negotiation carefully beforehand. You do not live to work, you work to have a life, the best possible life that money can but. On the other hand, any negotiation you make should be based on some kind of reasonable basis such as the seniority of the position, the level of responsibility or the level of skill required.  This sounds like you know your business better than simply asking for more money without a justification. Remember that all employers have a pretty good idea of what is a reasonable salary for a given level of experience and skill! 

            Take the money and ask for a written offer: If you are offered what you want, do not feel that you have to negotiate for more. Do not be greedy: just say thank you and take your time to consider and accept the offer. Ask the prospective employer to put his offer in writing before you accept.

Accepting an Offer

            Always get the offer in writing: The job offer should include and set out all the basic terms and conditions of employment: salary, holidays, privileges, advantages, bonuses, job title, specific responsibilities, termination clauses including indemnities, terms of agreement and so on.  A company does not have any soul; avoid any disagreements: cover you ass!

            Confirm your acceptance in writing: Confirm your acceptance in writing. In things turn sour; you will have a valid contractual agreement to show to the judge.

            Tell people if you change your mind: If for any reason you change your mind, let the company or prospective employer know as soon as possible. 

Handling your existing employer

            Be professional: Most people’s tendency when looking for a new job is to be secretive about it and only discuss it with the current employer once a new job has been secured. This is sensible in most cases.  However, do not take large numbers of sick days, or simply not showing up at random, while going for interviews elsewhere.  This is unprofessional and most likely to lead to a very poor reference at the very least.  Better, if possible, to be open about your intentions or to take the time off as holiday.

            Whatever your intentions, never go into “exit mode”: Make sure to avoid coming in late, working poorly, or bad-mouthing your colleagues or your employer.  It is not professional and this risks reflecting very poorly on future references.

            Quit with dignity: If you want to leave your actual job because of a problem, such as being under-paid or whatever, give your employer a reasonable chance to make amends before going. However, do not ever, ever attempt the dangerous game of wage bargaining by resignation. This feels a lot like blackmail and never works. The proper way to resign is to seek a personal meeting with your boss as soon as you have formally accepted another position and tell him or her that you are leaving.  Have a written resignation note to give him.  Again, this is an opportunity to show some professionalism and dignity that will be remembered after you leave.

Good job hunting.

JMD

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