Have you played competitive sports? How about online gaming, social sports or in-classroom settings? Yes, winning requires is a little bit of luck, but mostly skill. In this new era of job search, you need to be the best. To win a job today, you can have no unforced errors, you need practice and preparation, and you must be “on your game” at all times. Most job seekers forget the feeling, the emotion, and the discipline required to compete for employment. While there are jobs in the market today, more people are applying per job than ever before.
As an ex nationally-ranked tennis player, musician and 30 year veteran of the job search process, I’d like to share three things you can do to assure you are ready to win:
- Get Your Game Head On – Both emotionally and physically, you need to get ready to compete. Emotionally, decide if you are 100% committed or if you will just dabble in the search part-time. If 100% committed, what amount of time will you dedicate to your job-search and what other things will you give up to gain that time in your calendar? Many of you are currently employed, or are job-searching within your own company. So you will need to slot the time during the evenings and weekends. And those of you who are not working right now probably have obligations to family or volunteering, making time equally challenging. Those of you who are not working and with no time obligations should spend 20-30 hours per week, minimally.
Physically, you should be getting plenty of sleep, exercising and standing and sitting up straight all the time in preparation to compete. Get your haircut, check out the clothes you have in case you get called to meet a network contact, and shine your shoes (no, not your workout shoes).
- Build Your Job Search Playbook – No athlete or musician or chess player goes out without having a few strategies. In tennis, a player thinks about their serve and approach shots. In team sports, there are various plays the team can run, knowledge about the competition and practices right before the game. Now bring that back to your job search. First, “build the field”. (If you haven’t seen the movie, Field of Dreams, do so!). Have a 3-week plan, block the time in your calendar for specific job search activities and build your activity tracking tools. Then, for each position opportunity that you identify, study the company’s website, compare your background to their job description, and develop your strategy to “win” the job. Have answers for the most commonly-asked interview questions and tailor your preparation to relevant insights for the buyer: the hiring manager.
- Game-Day Performance – Wake up early and get all of your documents in order (copies of your resume, the job description and notes from your interview preparation). Assure your clothes are ironed, shoes polished, and all grooming is in good order. Then, if you are not in the lobby or parking lot of your appointment location 30 minutes prior to the start time, you are late. You can use the extra time to read over your interview question notes and the job description. Most importantly, remember one thing:
This is NOT about YOU. It’s about the interviewer or hiring manager. Yes, all about what they are looking for, what needs they have for a great, new employee and if you will be a fit in their organization. So you need to listen more than you talk and ask great, insightful questions. Introduce yourself with a smile, sit up straight and take notes. Finally, express your interest and ask how you did in the interview at the end. Write or e-mail a thank you note within 24 hours.
Be the best candidate on every level to WIN a job in today’s competitive era. Cut the Crap, and you will get a job.