How to get a job in today’s MARket

Tired of reading everyone else’s list of Do’s and Don’ts for finding a job? For over 20 years, I have interviewed hundreds of people for positions ranging from entry level to senior management. Here is all the research was done for you, a “boiled down for business” summary, if you will, of the things that make a truly great impression and will make you stand out from all the rest.But before I get to my list, here are some overall tips that I’ve been told add great insight and advantage to the “out there and looking”:

Work for goodwill in lieu of cash — update your resume with a current volunteer job.?Leaving your resume with a significant time gap since you were last employed is not a good idea. Employers will assume you’ve been looking for work but if you want to impress them, show them that you’ve not been lying on the couch watching daytime TV but rather, putting your skills to work for a good cause. Then update your resume with your current volunteer commitment. This way there are no time gaps.

Enlist a friend or former colleague to send an email or letter about you to a department head in a company that you have an interest in joining. Have them indicate your assets, talents, etc. and that the good news is, you are currently available.

Join a business-networking group such as Linked IN or Plaxo. Finding and reconnecting with your former colleagues is a great way to “throw a wider net” and let them know what you are looking for. Someone may know someone who knows someone” never know.

Apply online but follow-up by phone. Call the HR department the next day and introduce yourself. Tell them which job you posted for on-line and ask them their advice on how to proceed and what the next step would be. Be engaging and show initiative.

It’s in the details: Shoe shined, suit pressed, nails clean or polished and hair neat. Hanger leg? What’s hanger leg, you might ask? That’s when your suit pants have been on a hanging over a hanger for months and there is a visible bend or bump in the fabric. I can spot this a mile away and trust me it does not make the best impression. Don’t make potential employers think they are interviewing a slouch. Put your best foot forward. Always have your suit and shirt pressed and ready to go.

Be extremely flexible for interviewing. If you’re serious about finding a job do not put obstacles in the way. Cancel or reschedule other appointments if you have to. The answer to, “are you available Wednesday at 10?” is always a resounding “YES”.

Be extremely polite. You should have learned this in kindergarten but just in case you forgot, always say “thank you’, “no thank you”, “yes, please” and “may I sit”. Be on your best behavior and always send a hand written thank you letter or note. An email thank you will not impress.

Get your interviewer to talk. Asking open-ended questions gives you important information you can use to respond to their questions. For example: Have you worked here for a long time? What do you like about working here? Tell me about how your role interfaces with this open position?

Don’t touch! Even if it’s going well, never tap or touch your interviewers’ hand, shoulder, arm or leg. Never touch or remove something from someone’s desk. You are not at home. Commenting on a photo, painting or object is okay as long as you don’t touch it.

If you don’t have a small briefcase that rocks”_get one! Can we be honest here? That ratty, natty old leather case you’ve been carrying for years does not say, “lots of experience”. It says, “old and tired”. Look on top of your game. And ladies, please carry only a briefcase rather than a briefcase and a handbag. Trying to carry a briefcase and a handbag the size of a small suitcase doesn’t cut it. Too much to handle and way too distracting.

Don’t display your penchant for expensive designer clothing on an interview. Labels and insignias should be kept private. There will be plenty of time to show off your designer duds once you land the job.

Now here are my “Do’s” and “Don’ts”–or as I like to call them, “Mistakes” and “Home Runs”:

MISTAKE: Bad hair requires hair repair.

HOME RUN: Fingernails clean and tidy with simple polish for a woman or buffed for a man.

MISTAKE: Bad breath; there is nothing worse than this. If you have a problem, get it fixed.

HOME RUN: Clean teeth and a great smile.

MISTAKE: Bad or inappropriate shoes.

HOME RUN: Short, smart heels for women and clean shiny shoes for men: I’m all for sexy high-heeled shoes but not for an interview.

MISTAKE: Too much luggage.

HOME RUN: Carry a small, smart briefcase.

MISTAKE: Too much make-up.

HOME RUN: Makeup should be natural looking and enhance your good features; save the bright eye shadow for nighttime.

MISTAKE: Partying, drinking the night before.

HOME RUN: A well-rested face with a smile always gets the job.

MISTAKE: Late: bad, really bad!

HOME RUN: Always arrive 10 minutes early. Use the restroom if you need to. Check your teeth!

MISTAKE: No pen in the briefcase.

HOME RUN: Carrying your own pen says that you are prepared.

MISTAKE: Bad manners or”_no manners!

HOME RUN: Men standing when a lady enters the room. This tells your interviewer that you are polished and can be taken anywhere.

MISTAKE: A weak handshake; do not make the mistake of giving women a weak handshake; they don’t
appreciate it either.

HOME RUN: A firm handshake is always preferable but not a death grip.

MISTAKE: Resume on copy paper.

HOME RUN: Resume and references typed on good quality, watermarked paper, ready to offer.

MISTAKE: Showing up with your coffee. This is not a lunch date, people.

HOME RUN: Show up with your hand extended offering a handshake and a smile and nothing else.

These are the things that can get you noticed in a good way or a bad way. Be memorable and unforgettable in a good way. Getting a job is like getting a life: you need to change what you do in order to get paid for it.

And there you have it.