In the last installment of this piece I told you about all the things I had gotten wrong in my job search. As I said, it was a learning experience. Thankfully, however, I wasn’t wrong about everything. There were a few things that I had right.
What I knew I knew:
- One resume isn’t enough. True. Over the course of my job search, I had and used no fewer than 7 different versions of my resume. There were some that highlighted different aspects of my work (recruiting, management, digital experience, etc.) as appropriate to each company and job that I applied to. There were some that omitted certain unrelated job experience. There were purely chronological resumes and those in which I lumped together like experiences. Why do all this? One thing that I know for sure is that most hiring managers and recruiters don’t use a lot of imagination in their resume screening. They’re looking for almost spot-on experience and if they don’t see it in 30 seconds they’ll move on to the next resume. I got calls to interview based on each of the 7 versions, so I’m pretty sure I was on the right track.
- Not every job is the right job. True. As I mentioned earlier, I applied to about 25 positions throughout my job search. Perhaps a more important number is the jobs I didn’t apply to. I can’t say exactly, but I’d put the number of jobs that I decided not to pursue at close to 100. Why did I leave 100 seemingly appropriately leveled HR/Recruitment jobs on the table? Because they just weren’t right. They were jobs that were in industries I didn’t want to join, in companies that I had heard not-so-great things about, or just job descriptions that looked like they weren’t any fun. Managing a job search is a serious undertaking already – there’s no need to add to the workload by pursuing jobs you don’t even want. Besides, as a recruiter there’s nothing I hate more than calling a candidate who applied and that candidate saying “Wait, what job was that again?” That’s clearly someone who applied to too many positions. I don’t ever want to be that guy.
- There’s no such thing as too prepared. Interviews can be great if you let them be great. Know how to make that happen? Know everything you want to say and everything you want to ask. Have your talking points down to an art. A great achievement? No problem. A time you overcame an obstacle? Got it. Disagreement with a boss and how it was handled? Ready. Why I want to work for this company in this job? You betcha. In the dozens of interviews I had with several companies, I was almost never hit with a question I wasn’t ready to answer. It’s all about preparation. And it’s not enough to have your script memorized – you have to anticipate their script as well. Study that job description and customize your talking points to what they’re looking for. Does that job description stress project work? Get some good project stories together. Is it a management position? Be ready to talk about some times your management skills were challenged. A job description is so much more than just a job description; it’s a preview of the interview. The tone and the content can give you spectacular insight into what’s going to be asked of you once you’re sitting at that table. Don’t forget to use this valuable tool.
At the end of the day, I know I was one of the lucky ones. Not everyone has as much success or finds a great opportunity as quickly as I did. But as I’ve maintained since I can remember, half of luck is being lucky. The other half, you make for yourself.
Going forward, I’ve identified a new challenge that I’m excited to face. When I’m doling out advice or tips for getting a job, it’s easy to rely on the same answers I’ve been giving for years. They’re second nature to a point, and usually founded in some kind of experience. Now that I’m fresh out of my own career transition, however, it’s time to take another look at what I’m saying. Before I answer a question I need to make sure I still believe that my answer is true. Because there are some guns that I’m sticking to, and some that I’m turning in. And if I can keep them straight (which I’m pretty sure I can) then I know I can be a better recruiter, a better adviser, and a better coach than I’ve ever been. So thanks, life, for handing out those lemons. The lemonade really hit the spot.
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