Thursday, May 9, 2013

I applied. When do I start?

 Uhhh, what? Strangely enough, it’s not all that unusual to have an applicant think that just because he filled out an application or sent in a resume, or even had just one interview, that he’ll automatically be offered the job; to think it’s a done deal. Somehow, people have gotten the idea that they’re entitled to a job, owed a job and all they have to do show up.

So, maybe you’ve worked hard in school (either high school or college), gotten good grades and now it’s time to get a job. Maybe you feel like you’ve paid your dues at another job and are ready for the next step in your career. But, whatever level you’re seeking, are you really qualified for the job for which you’ve applied? Job seekers need to honestly assess their experience, skills and attitude before heading in for that interview. Hiring managers and human resources will be looking at your skills, your experience, your emotional intelligence and maturity, as well as other qualities. Coming in with an attitude of entitlement will most likely get you nowhere fast.

Here are a few things to keep in mind, and have ready answers for during interviews:

Education: Include college, workshops, etc. What did you study, what did you learn? Have you had opportunities to apply what you’ve learned, or is it all classroom application so far? Remember, just because you aced the test, doesn’t mean you can apply that knowledge appropriately in a work environment.

Experience: Not just paying jobs and internships, but think about volunteer gigs (what skills did you gain?) Even a hobby might have netted you some valuable experience and skills; parsing that down to something an employer would see as valuable is the trick.

Skills: Be honest with yourself. Think about what you’re very good at, good at, maybe adequate and lastly, what you cannot do (yet), or what you won’t do. Do not say you can do something, (or will do something if you really won’t), or possess a skill you do not have. Few things will sour an employment relationship faster than discovering the person you just hired can’t do the job. And if the interviewer is at all skilled herself, she may figure this out during the interview, and you will have blown your chance.

When you get that interview, remember:

Don’t assume anything. It’s an interview. The hiring manager is in a decision making process (as you should be!). It’s just the beginning. As a job seeker, it’s certainly important to show confidence in your abilities. But add a healthy dash of modesty and an even healthier dash of honesty. Take care not to give off an air of arrogance or entitlement. Employers want to hire people who are confident but humble, enthusiastic and ready to roll up their sleeves to get the job done. A positive attitude can get you farther in some cases, than just skills and experience alone.

Ask intelligent questions. Ask about the job itself, ask how you can contribute. Ask what it takes to be successful in this job. Don’t ask about the pay, benefits or vacation time – at least not in the first interview.

Who you know will not always help you. Networking can be an effective job search tool. Being able to find a quality referral can be immensely helpful. Often, when a "known quantity" refers a candidate, we feel a certain confidence in that applicant. But, please, for the love of all that’s good, don’t assume that just because your mother, father, sister, brother, cousin or neighbor works for the company, or knows someone else who works for the company, that you will be hired – no questions asked! It’s not in the bag and don’t come in thinking it’s in the bag. You still have to earn that job offer. And you have to keep earning it. If you realize and live that truth, you’ll begin to reap the rewards of hard work, skill and experience.


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