Going The Extra Mile on a Job Search
Gaining any kind of edge in a crowded job market is worth your time and effort. Remember that hiring managers usually weigh potential candidates against each other rather than against the position itself. How you look for a job is every bit as important as where you look for one, and this includes subtle things that most tend to overlook. Every job seeker is familiar with gathering references, tailoring your resume to a specific opportunity, and preparing for interviews. The little extra things you could be doing can set you apart from the pack and make you the most attractive candidate for the position you seek.
Take Time to Research
Once you've determined the type of position you want, you're missing an important part of the process if you fail to research companies. Learn whatever you can about a company from its Web site and if possible, from people who work there. "Any time someone approaches me and tells me they're interested in a position that isn't related to what we do here, they've already turned me off," says events coordinator Charlotte Gifford. "Even a cursory look at our site tells you what our business focus is." A job seeker trying to go the extra mile can't afford to make this mistake.
Contacting people who work for a specific business you are interested in to conduct informational interviews can save you time and give you an edge. Prepare questions for them that serve as touchstones to encourage them to speak truthfully about their experience. If it proves hard to get in touch with them, try sending an e-mail inquiry with a few questions. During interviews, hiring managers will be impressed that you took the time to learn about their company.
Preparing For Your Interview
Your real opportunity to shine occurs during the job interview. Videotaping your practice sessions is a great way to gauge and improve your performance. Focus on ways you can physically show enthusiasm during an interview, because this counts for more than you think. Are you making enough eye contact without being overbearing? Do you come off as being sure of yourself without being overconfident? Often, the key to acing an interview is listening closely to the questions so you don't give vague, generic sounding responses. Have a friend come up with mock interview questions and videotape your interaction. Study yourself to see if you are listening as intently as you should be. Viewing the video of your performance will also reveal if you are giving specific enough answers to the questions asked.
After The Interview
You may think you've reached the finish line after your interview, but there's still an extra mile to go. Immediately afterwards, write down your thoughts and feelings about how it went. These impressions will help with your Thank You letter. If your interviewer's business card has an e-mail address you can respond electronically, but avoid the temptation to rush things without carefully considering what you want to say. Don't make your letter generic and simply rehash what went on in the interview. Consider the interaction from the interviewer's perspective. Are there things the interviewer may have been looking for that you neglected to mention? Don't panic. Now is your chance to address some of these issues and to tie them into your experience and accomplishments. Finally, don't pass up the chance to show your interest in the interviewer in a specific, personalized way.