When it comes to landing your first dream job, the old rules don’t always apply. While it’s still important to pursue an interview with professional grace, have a sharp resume and dress for success, there is a new set of must-do’s for today’s generation of job seekers.
Julia Horiuchi, Senior Consultant in sales and marketing at Robert Walters, speaks with great candidates and companies hunting for talent every day. She covers a range of roles from VP level to up-and-comers looking to make the first job change, and she has developed a keen sense of what works and what doesn’t when it comes to landing the best roles in the Bay Area. Here are Julia’s top ten steps to set yourself up to land that dream job:
1. Update your resume. This might seem like a no-brainer, but we are often surprised at how lackadaisical some candidates are about their resumes. Your resume should be nothing less than flawless. Have 3-5 smart friends proof it for you, and make sure it’s short and sweet. Then, on your LinkedIn profile (you do have a LinkedIn profile, right?) there’s room to expand on your skills and experience.
2. Along those lines, if you’re going to have a website, do it right. Creating a website for your personal brand is an opportunity for mistakes. So again, make sure you have a friend or two proof it and give you their honest feedback.
3. Your email signature should contain the obvious: your name, email address and phone number. It could also contain links to a website or two that advances your job-hunting cause: your LinkedIn profile or your uber-professional Twitter account, for instance. Your signature does not need to contain inspirational or funny quotes, nor does it need animated GIFs or other attachments, please. Your personality shows through in your writing style. Keep your signature clean and professional.
4. A successful interview always starts with landing the right interview in the first place. You might have your eye on Apple or love the idea of working at Google, but for career success it’s crucial to align yourself with a company whose values and culture jive with your own. Do the research. Learn about a company’s products, sure, but then take it a step further. What can you find out about your dream employer’s work style? This might come from savvy internet research, but more likely it comes from proactive networking. Which brings us to number five…
5. Networking is the best way to gain information about a company you might want to work for, as well as to get a potential foot in the door. As much as social media and the ease of email make it tempting to network from home in your sweats, nothing replaces the connection of a good old fashioned face-to-face. Find out about industry events, Meetups and social opportunities to mingle with those who already run in the professional crowds you’re trying to break into. Then put on your party clothes…
6. But not for your interview. When you do land that coveted in-person interview, know that dressing for success no longer means suiting up every time. Julia’s advice is to find out the office’s general dress policy or habits, then step it up a notch… but only one notch. If your future co-workers tend to wear jeans and t-shirts to work, show up for your interview in nice jeans and a button-up shirt. Wearing a suit to an interview with someone who’s wearing flip-flops makes you seem out of date. And vice versa is much, much worse. Dress the part.
7. Your interviewer is going to Google you. That’s just a fact. Keep your public persona clean and take proactive steps to make sure your Google results are a positive reflection of your personal brand. This includes social media platforms that are viewable by anyone, like LinkedIn and Twitter. Your social media activity should be an indication of the type of employee you’ll be. Are you constantly Instagramming that last great cocktail? Probably not the impression you want to make on a future boss. Keep it clean! And if you must have a social outlet that’s just for you, use Facebook—and keep your Facebook profile private.
8. You should also Google your interviewer. Know exactly who you are going to talk to. What’s his background? Where else has she worked? If your interviewer has spent her career running Fortune 500 companies, she’s probably going to conduct a more formally structured one-on-one. But if your interviewer has been in the start-up world for a while, chances are your conversation will be more eclectic and casual. Be prepared.
9. If your first interview is via phone or Skype, it can be tempting to take the call while on the run. Annoying your future boss with sharp, loud background noise as you’re getting off the subway is a surefire way to ensure you won’t get hired. Prep for a phone or video chat just like you would an in-person interview. Set yourself up for a professional conversation without distractions.
10. Follow up your interview not just with a “nice to meet you” but with ready-to-go examples of anything you can use to seal the deal. If you’re interviewing for a marketing job, writing samples or examples of past successes work well. For a sales job, have some performance statistics at the ready. Anticipate anything your future employer might ask you for, and wow him by having it ready to go.
Networking is the best way to gain information about a company you might want to work for, as well as to get a potential foot in the door.
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