#MarchMadness: Job hunting season is upon us! Here are 5 tips to finding and locking in that role.
Finding internships and full-time employment opportunities can be a very difficult and stressful task. I remember my first year of graduate school... I was one of the few that hadn't secured an internship in my cohort during the first semester, so the pressure was on. I didn't have much full-time work experience either because I went to graduate school right after undergrad, and of course, in order to get experience you have to already have experience. It is a philosophy that still holds true today and is one that I still don't quite understand, but I'll save that for another post.
As you know, the market is becoming more competitive each day as people are becoming more educated and acquiring unique skills. Nowadays, a college degree holds just as much weight as a high school diploma in the 90s, so how does one stand out amongst the crowd? How does one compete with little to no work experience? Trust me, I've been there, done that and came out on top! I was the Supply Chain MBA student with a Fashion Merchandising degree and no full-time work experience competing with other MBAs with years under their belt. Looking for some insight on what to do to secure a great role? Follow my 5 tips below and see how I landed a very competitive supply chain role in the Medical industry with a very competitive package!
1. Job Search
As you begin your search into the job market, it is important to identify what you are looking to accomplish while in this role. What skills are you looking to obtain and why? What role do you see yourself in within the next 1-3-5- or 10 years? Mapping out these plans will allow you to identify the skills and experience needed to get to that role. To find this information you can talk to your mentor (if you don't have a mentor, try to find one asap. Mentorship is critical to your personal and professional development) someone who has had that role in the past, one who is currently in that role, or you can go to one of my favorite (free) resources, GOOGLE!
Once you've identified the necessary skills it takes to get into this dream role, you have to look at your background and experience to see where your gaps are. Understand and be realistic about what foundational skills you need to obtain in order to be successful in that high-level management role. Once you identify these gaps, you need to find them in the job description or ask the hiring manager if you will have the opportunity to experience and develop in these areas. For my early-career folks your list should be long, which gives you an open mind and broad perspective on what you can learn and do. You should be willing to take almost any role and learn from it. Be humble, and understand this role is not a lifelong commitment like the times of the Baby Boomers, where they would be in a role for 30+ years... no sir! Don't get caught up in the titles either. Focus on the skills you will develop during your tenure and soak up as much as you can while you're in the role.
2. Resume Building
Now that you have the job(s) you are applying to, it is time to get your resume in order. First, it is important to align your experience with the role. When I applied to my supply chain roles, I did not list my fashion experience because it did not relate. Do not just list anything you have done in the past to fill the white space on your page or to make yourself seem more experienced than you really are. Focus on what is important and build from there. Make sure you list your results and quantify your accomplishments. Do not get caught up in listing your day-to-day tasks. When listing your experience always ask yourself "what is the point and why is this important". I understand you were responsible for leading that project, but what was the impact while you were in that role? Did the sales increase? Did you improve a process to increase efficiency for your team? And then make the connection of how that experience is transferrable to the role you are applying for today.
Use key words and industry terms, but lose the acronyms. Companies use acronyms for different meanings, so spell everything out to avoid confusion. Get rid of the basic skills and applications unless you are proficient and it directly applies to the role. If you have a college degree it is assumed that you can create a spreadsheet in Excel, however if you can code macros or build a database, definitely list is as a skill. The key thing is to align your skills and experience to the role you are applying to. Stay relevant. Keep it neat and classic. No funny business (colored & scented paper are no-gos) . And always remember, it is better to be safe than sorry.
3. Interview Prep
Before the interview, always research the role and the company. Know your competitors and how that may impact your work. Become familiar with current market trends and have an opinion on where you think things are going. Conduct a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) of the company to be able to speak to ways you can have a positive impact.
Always remember that practice makes perfect, so never be too confident to go over a few questions out loud. As a matter of fact, I recommend you practice the interview in the mirror. Trust me, it makes a difference because you are more conscious of your nervous habits and facial expressions which could easily be misinterpreted. Ask your mentor, friends and peers to conduct a mock interview with you (or schedule one with us!). Google a list of sample behavioral questions... Tell me about a time when... and keep practicing.
4. The Interview
Alright, we have a seat at the table and it is time for you to sell yourself! For the behavioral questions, be honest, but have a scenario for everything. Always make sure your answers are specific and concise, but meaty. Try not to ramble, but if you do (it happens, you're nervous) make sure to ask the interviewer if you have answered the question. Dress up for phone interviews and if possible, stand up while answering the questions. Kill the background noise and avoid shuffling papers to find answers. We can hear it on the other end and it is distracting, so lose the script or have your papers laid out rather than keeping them in a stack.
Again, sell yourself! Let them know you are the one for the job. Show interest in the role. Ask for the interviewers insight on the most challenging part of this role and the expectations of the new hire during the first 30-90 days. Ask what the next steps are and when you can expect to hear back from them.
Look the part. Stick to classic colors if you wear a suit (navy blue, charcoal grey and black). No loud colors or distracting jewelry or hairstyles. Unless you're applying to a very creative company, I would keep it simple at least for the first interaction. Lose the gum, but make sure your breath is in order. I have interviewed someone with bad breath in the past and it was quite distracting. Then there's the norms. Make sure you have a nice, firm handshake. Groom your nails and please make sure they're not too long. Put lotion on your hands. Men, get a haircut, shave, etc. You don't want them to count you out on the first impression before you even open your mouth. I am all for being yourself and self-expression, but get the job first :)
You did it! The interview is over and now it is smooth sailing from here. Send an email or hand-written card to thank the interviewer for their time and consideration. Try to do this within 24 hours of the interview and always during business hours (M-F 8 am-5 pm) In your email, ask if there was anything that was unclear or needed further explaining from you. Reassure them that you are excited and ready for this role and you look forward to hearing from them soon. Give them some time to respond, but make sure to check in with them from time to time to see if they have made a decision. **Only do this if they have passed the deadline of when they said they would give you an answer. You do not want to seem pushy or impatient and rush them through the process.
Well, I hope this helps you in your journey of securing a great role. It has been my process for years and hasn't failed me yet! If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave it under the post. And finally, if you need to schedule an appointment to help build your resume or conduct a few mock interviews, visit our booking page and we can go from there! Looking forward to hearing about your success stories!