Job InterviewAs anyone who’s had a frustrating conversation with their parents knows, the job market just ain’t what it used to be. Where our parents generation may have switched jobs four or five times in a lifetime, these days, it’s far more common for people to change jobs — and sometimes whole careers — at least twice in a decade. The Bureau of Labor reports that the average worker spends around 4.4 years in each position. And for millenials, that number’s even higher. Whew.

A lot of time, energy and interview outfits will go into the jobs you’re likely to pursue over a lifetime, so why not go through the process in the best way possible? Whether you’re just starting out, or have been in the workforce for a while, getting a new job can be a daunting process. So it’s a good thing we’ve compiled a list of 26 tips, culled from our combined 50+ years in the working world. So check out our advice, and then share yours in the comments!

GETTING CONNECTED

1. Network, network, network. In order to increase your job opportunities in any industry, you have to be considered an “insider” in that industry. The best way to do that is to know people. Keep up with them. Have drinks. Show your face around industry events.

2. Set up coffee dates with people you admire in your industry. This is a great thing to do, even (and some might say, especially) when you’re not looking for a job. It accomplishes two things: You can learn from them and when you are looking for a job, you can contact them for suggestions.

3. Ask for informational interviews. Maybe the company you want to work for doesn’t have any openings at the moment. You may still score big by asking for an informational interview with someone in the department you’re interested in. It can create goodwill and valuable name recognition the next time a job does open. Which, hey, you need.

4. Don’t be afraid to ask your friends and family for help. Around 80 percent of all jobs are obtained via networking, so use the network that’s around you. And remember, when you’re networking, apply the same level of professionalism you would with a potential boss. You never know how far your networking email might travel.

5. Learn about where you want to work, seriously. Potential employers can smell a form cover letter from a mile away, so do your research and tell them not just why you’d be a good fit, but what you like about the company.

6. Utilize your connections. Put the name of your colleague or connection in the subject of the emailso that the person you’re trying to reach will be more likely to open it.

7. Get yourself a LinkedIn account. Use it to build up your online presence, connect with others in your field and hunt for job opportunities.

YOUR RESUME & COVER LETTER

8. Make sure your resume is flawless. This goes double if you’re applying for a job that in any way involves writing. Employers often use typos in cover letters and resumes as an easy way to separate the wheat from the chaff. Send your resume out to at least three friends to give it a thorough read-through before shipping it off.

9. Sure, put some personality in there. Jessica’s resume mentions that she spent time abroad in Prague. Mine references that she can recite “It’s The End Of The World As We Know It” from memory, and that she’s captain of her soccer team. Believe it or not, these things catch potential employers’ eyes and may serve as the touchstone that gets you in the door. Plus, it’s an easy way to differentiate your resume from the pile of others.

10. For chrissakes, send your resume as a PDF. As any control freak will tell you, you never knowwhat version of Microsoft the person you’re emailing has. Maybe they’re on a Commodore 64 and just use text edit. You never know, so save yourself and them the trouble and send your resume as a PDF attachment. If you don’t know what that is, Google it.

11. Do you have an “objective” section on your resume? Take it off. It’s assumed that if you are sending your resume someplace, you and they know what job it’s for. Don’t waste valuable resume space with this category

12. Do some research and find out who you need to send your resume and cover letter to. It’s usually not impossible to figure it out. None of that “To Whom It May Concern” business.

13. Never give references you haven’t thoroughly vetted. Make sure all of your references are awarethat they’re references.

THE INTERVIEW

14. Follow up a day before the interview and confirm the time and place. Yup.

15. Write down the contact information, address and directions for your interview. Seriously, there is no excuse for being late, especially not if you have a smartphone.

16. Learn how to give a good interview.  More often than not, how much people like you, how well you present in person, how much they would want to work with you, often counts for a lot more than your resume.

17. Demonstrate why you’d make a good worker by example. When you show up at an interview, be the kind of person other people want to work with. Present a positive attitude, be polite, friendly, punctual and engaged. Think about your goddamn posture and presence. Are you sitting up in your chair, leaning forward, engaging with your interviewer? Do that.

18. Dress for the job you want. It’s a total cliche, but it’s also totally true. It’s better to be overly professional at an interview than not professional enough.

19. Make sure you have clean fingernails. Ah yes, this. Potential employers are going to notice your nails. They just are. Nails are sort of a window into your working soul, as it were. They’re seen as a reflection of what kind of a person and worker you might be. So keep those puppies clean.

20. Have some questions ready. Again, this should be a no brainer, and yet! Ask about the challenges and rewards of the job, the work environment, the size and scope of the team you’d be working on.

21. Don’t forget to ask the interviewer a couple of questions about themselves. Newsflash, people love talking about themselves, and it endears you to them when you take the time to ask about their own experience at a company. So store a couple of questions like, “What drew you to this company?” or “What was your professional path that led you to this firm?” or whatever.

THE FOLLOW-UP

22. Say thanks, a couple of times. After an interview, send a thank you email to the person or people who interviewed you. Saying something like “Thanks for taking the time to meet with me, your company seems like a wonderful place to work.”

23. And then follow up with a handwritten thank you note. Sure, nobody does handwritten anything anymore. Which is why you’ll stand out by taking the time and effort to hand write your thanks. This goes double if the person you’ve interviewed with is of an older generation — until recently, it was not just suggested but required that you mail in a thanks.

24. Modify your resume accordingly. Every job is different, duh, and your resume should be modified to speak to the particular aims and goals of the job you’d like. That doesn’t mean you should have 20 different resumes (too confusing!), but tailor one to your retail experience, or research strengths, or marketing skills.

25. Be aggressive, B-E aggressive! Your interviewer probably has a lot going on, so don’t be super concerned if you don’t hear back from them right away. But do take the time to follow up and reassert your interest in the position.

26. Don’t give up. Nobody gets every job they ever go out for. If you feel like you developed a rapport with the interviewer, feel free to ask them what you could do better next time, or what experience you should try to build.

Got any other tips, especially tips that suit the industry you work in? Share them in the comments!

This post originally appeared on The Frisky. Republished with permission.

  • http://sownbrooklyn.wordpress.com nettie

    That fingernail suggestion is more crucial than you know. I once assisted in an interview with a woman with 2 inch long, or MORE, very colorful fingernails.

    Also, I learned from this same woman, to consider the interview as started from the moment you arrive in the building. She texted, with those incredibly clack-y nails, the entire time we waited for, and while on, the elevator to the floor the interview was taking place on.

    We were all absolutely incredulous. She also complained about her last position. A LOT. And used slang when answering questions.

  • The Moon in the Sky.

    Nowadays, the way to score a job is to have 3+ years of experience minimum (even for entry-level), meet 100% of the qualifications, never have been fired from a job or unemployed and be a robot

  • Pseudonym

    Straight out of college, seems the trick is to know somebody.

    After that, have YEARS of experience. and know somebody or work for a company that your somebody would know and find impressive.

  • Nik

    these are really great tips. networking and cultivating genuine relationships is extremely important. Unfortunately or fortunately (depending on how you look at it), we are engulfed in a time when sending resumes goes directly into cyber space.

    Connections are everything.

    It’s also important when you go on those cofee or drink meet ups with people you admire to not display a motive. Off the back a stranger does not know your skills or what you can bring to the table, so by opening up… engaging in great conversation, listening and bringing a sense of genuine nature to the table you will exert good energy and gain someones sincere interest and possibly trust.

    Energy is EVERYTHING.

    I once was told ” if you can’t be used, you’re useless” but there is a tactful way to approach networking.

  • Pseudonym

    Given what I just said, want to give a note to those unemployed with great credentials struggling to find employment:

    don’t let it get you down. Be real with yourself to make sure you’re not slacking (of course!), but if you’ve seriously done everything you’re supposed to do to prepare yourself for a successful career and you STILL find yourself unemployed after sending out HUNDREDS of resumes: don’t let it get you down. This economy and hiring environment is a serious BEAST and don’t let a lack of success finding work in a time when no one is hiring make you questions your talent, intelligence, competence, etc.

    Definitely look for alternative/atipical ways you can apply the skills and training you have to other fields and be open-minded about the possibility of ending up working in something you didn’t necessarily set out to do. And don’t be to proud to work a job that you would normally consider under your pay grade. There are ways to use those positions as doorways to opportunity. and, at the end of the day- actually, all day everyday- the bills have to get paid.

    Sorry if this is preachy. I don’t intend to preach, I was just throwing that out there in case there’s someone who’s unemployed and has done the 26 tips above (and more) and feels frustrated. You have a right to be frustrated, but be frustrated at the job market and don’t take it out on yourself. Okay, preaching again (sorry!). I’m done.

  • http://gravatar.com/nolakiss16 binks

    So printing this!

  • Medusa

    This is great, thanks for all the information.

  • Mr. Man

    If I may add…Nervous ticks.

    If you have a nervous tick it can be very distracting and could easily cost you the interview. While being interviewed work hard to be aware of and not do the following:

    -Biting nails
    -Bouncing leg or feet
    -Popping knuckles and or neck
    -Tapping whatever

    Oh and PLEASE don’t forget to turn OFF the phone. DO NOT switch to vibrate that sound is annoying and very distracting even in your purse.

  • Mademoiselle

    Agreed, but there are creative ways to get past those obstacles.

    3+Years experience: it helps to do similar type of work that you would do OTJ in your community — the experience still counts even if you weren’t paid for it
    Meeting 100% of the qualifications: it helps to always be learning a new skill, even if it doesn’t apply to your current role — the skillsets & knowledge still count even if you’re using them in nonconventional ways
    Unemployment: it helps to consistently volunteer, serve on boards of directors, or be on the executive committee of community groups — if you’re working (real work, not just titular work) for a single organization over an extended period of time and hold real responsibilities towards its operation, you’re employed even if you’re not paid for it
    Being a robot: I’m still figuring this one out myself (my circuits are frying out a little bit), but the best I have is try figuring out how you can get things done by relying on other people to do the minor parts, and if that doesn’t work, make a conscious effort to take vacations as necessary, and if that doesn’t work, put a timeline in your head for how long you’re willing to do what you currently do, so you can actively plan for making your next move to a hopefully more fulfilling role.

    You have to stay marketable, whether you’re in a rut, gainfully employed, or between jobs, and try really hard not to let a few no’s discourage your quest.

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