1. If You Don’t Know What You’re Looking For, You’ll Never Find It. … You have to focus your job search, on the role you want to play, the geographic location you’ll consider, the organizations you’d like to work for or issue areas you’d like to work on. Otherwise, all other job search tips are meaningless. And, as a correlary, it’s just as important to know what you don’t want as what you do want. (Be sure to balance this with Commandment #7!)
2. Job Searching Is Self-Motivated. No one is going to come along, wave a wand, and hand you a great job. You have to schedule at least a certain amount of time every day or every week to do networking, job applying, research, searching etc. Schedule a specific Job Search Time at a specific hour of the day or time of the week, and put it aside; and organize your job search to make sure you stay on track. Otherwise, “sometime” will easily become “never.”
3. Even Super-stars Get Rejected. Job searching, up until the point when you get an offer, is usually full of rejection. Once you get an offer, you have a special chance to ask for what you want (see commandment 10), but up until then, you have to keep on going. You will apply for jobs and not get interviews. You will go on interviews and not get offers. You can sit and agonize about why; or you can learn from your past, ask in a friendly way for feedback, and move on. The person who does the latter will one day get accepted. The person who does the former is stuck whereever they are.
4. Never, Ever, Show your Negativity (To a Recruiter). You have been rejected; you’re desperate for a job; but recruiters can smell desperation miles away. You have to set aside your frustration and depression. Tell your family members, friends, therapist, or career counselor– whoever will listen– about your difficult job search– but never, ever, ever, tell an hiring manager about your difficult job search. And never criticize or complain, about yourself, your previous employers, or even the weather. No one ever wants to hire a complainer.
5. Everyone’s Favorite Radio Station is WIIFM… “What’s In It For Me”. You first have to know what you’re looking for (Commandment #1), but you also have to know what your future employer or client wants. No one gets a job by talking about what kind of job they want, what kind of lush salary they expect, etc. They get a job by explaining how they will come to the rescue of their future employer. This leads to Commandment 6…
6. Show, Don’t Tell. Give me ten real-life examples, with clear images, numbers, stories with names attached, and most importantly, quantifiable results, and you are ahead of 90% of job seekers. Tell me an example of a problem you faced, the specific steps you took to solve the problem, and the positive result you achieved. Tell me the example in your resume– don’t just list what you did, but explain what you accomplished. Tell me the example throughout your interview. Only by visualizing you being able achieve results will I trust that you can actually achieve them.
7. An Option Can Have no Negative Value…. or, never turn down a job offer you don’t even have yet. Especially in tough economic times, or when pursuing a career in a highly competitive field, you have to keep your options open. Apply for any and all jobs you have some level of interest in, and for which you are at least 70% qualified, and take all interviews for positions you are at least somewhat likely to consider taking.
8. Hiring Decisions are Filled with Anxiety. Your job as a job seeker is to reassure the hiring managers that you are a good decision; that you’re able to do a great job; that you really want the job; and that you won’t ruin their lives by being unreliable, or by generally making them look bad. Hiring decisions are risky and expensive. Spend 90% of your interview process on reassuring the hiring manager that you are not going to ruin their lives, and you’ll be 90% there. This also explains why:
9. It’s not Only About Who you Know, it’s About Who Knows You. You have to have connections and contacts in your field. 70% of jobs are found through networking. Because of Commandment #8, hiring managers prefer to hire a known (or at least known-by-someone-they-know) quantity rather than selecting a candidate from the resume pile. Think about every person you know; then link to them on www.linkedin.com or similar sites and find out who they know. Start talking to people. Research your future field; ask what language they use in that field; ask about the culture of your target organization; ask what strategies you need to use to get hired. Ask who else they can introduce you to. Most importantly, treasure your contacts, show them appreciation for helping you, and think about what you can do to thank them when they help you. That way, you not only learn about your field, but you enlist a support team who can serve as job lead referrers, references, and cheerleaders on your job hunt.
10. Once you Have The Offer, The Ball is In Your Court. If you are financially able to afford to, you can always turn an offer down and keep looking. It won’t burn bridges to say you have decided to turn an offer down. Because of this power to turn down an offer, then once you actually have an offer in your hand, you get to stop the proceedings and negotiate (therefore, Never Accept an Offer on the Spot). Hiring managers often will offer the lowest salary they think they can get away with, and expect new hires to ask for more money. Asking for more money, better benefits, a different start date, etc., and backing up your request with well-researched facts (like the salary averages for someone like you in this field; your specific accomplishments etc.) may end up in a positive result.