Attitude, the Match Game, Networking & a Few Closing Thoughts
January 23, 2009 by Joyce Richman
Attitude: It’s competitive out there. The market is tight. As a job seeker you’re not feeling too optimistic. That can show when it’s time to interview. You’re evaluated by what you say and how you say it. So here are a few reminders about attitude: It’s created in your head and demonstrated in your behavior. With that in mind, don’t mentally argue with interviewers. Don’t set up mental barriers. Think “partnership”. Partner with the interviewers to learn challenges the company must confront. Partner to learn what expectations they have for the role you want to play. Partner when you describe what you do best, and how your abilities benefit the bottom line.
You’ve been a loyal employee, hardworking, and honest and you’ve just been laid off. You’re at a turn in the road you hadn’t expected and are having more trouble dealing with it than you had anticipated. Before you take your fears and frustrations out on an interviewer, or your spouse and family, get some help. Take care of yourself physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually. Take a walk and get a check-up; check in with a counselor; check out some library books; and soothe your soul by communing with nature or attending your place of worship. Talk to friends, mentors, and spiritual guides. Attend job search support groups. You’ll get a reprieve that may be a short- term fix, but when done consistently and over time, can give you long term relief.
The Match Game: Put your best foot forward. Lead with your strengths and match your abilities to the opportunities that you seek and the company you’d like to join. If you know you’re a people person, find companies that value relationships with employees as well as customers and vendors. If you’re a trouble- shooter match yourself to the company that values quality and is willing to invest in it. If you’re independent and creative, find companies that value out of the box thinking and paradigm-shifting. The match game is about taking the best of what you do and who you are, and connecting with companies with compatible values and expectations.
Networking: When utilized properly it’s an excellent entrée to companies and their decision-makers. When misapplied, it’s not only time wasting and frustrating to you and the people you visit, it is counterproductive. To be effective, you’ll need to be clear about your purpose in arranging these job search, strategy setting meetings. You’re calling on people with whom you share mutual respect and regard, who value you and your work and have something in common with both. You’re informing them of your search and need of their assistance in brainstorming possibilities, and suggesting people, and places to call. You’re emphatic that you’re not asking them for a job. You’re interested in their insights regarding who to call and why you should. Your goal is to walk out of the meeting with names, phone numbers, and the networking contact’s willingness to touch base with each of these people before you do. That’s networking at its best.
Cover letters: Yes. They’re as necessary as they are multi-purpose. In three brief paragraphs you can describe the reason for your contact, how your strengths contribute to company performance, and suggest action steps in the resume-to-interview process. If you’re responding to a want ad, you can describe how closely you fit the requirements of the published opening. A resume, uncovered, is a dry recitation of fact. A cover letter provides an opportunity for you to shine and thereby kindle interest on the part of the reader.
A Few Closing Thoughts: I’m all for wearing fragrances and it’s not my business if you choose to smoke. However, when you interview, you want to be evaluated on the merit of your accomplishments and not hampered by a heavy scent that trumpets your arrival and lasts well after you’ve departed.
And believe it or not, it’s as bad to get to your interview too early as it is to arrive too late. Either way you look time-management challenged. In a market as competitive as this, you want everything to be working in your favor.