Remember how easy those open-book tests were back in school? Providing references to your prospective employer should be no different. This is the one time that your would-be employer has to play by your rules – use the opportunity wisely. Before listing anyone other than your mom as a professional reference give them a call for a quick pre-screen. If you are not comfortable asking for or getting an honest opinion from an individual prior to listing them, they probably shouldn’t be your reference in the first place. You would be shocked how many unscreened references provide unkind feedback. This clearly reflects poorly upon you and shows your would-be employer how little effort you put into your resume and obtaining their position.
You know that old saying “several irons in the fire”? It absolutely applies to your job search. Just because you have a job interview lined up tomorrow, does not mean you are going to receive a job offer. Keep your job search momentum and schedule interviews to any opening you find appealing. If you do receive an incredible offer, what’s the worst that can happen? Yep, you cancel an interview or have a great bargaining chip.
Most people start their job search with a full-head-of steam approach meaning they are going to look for the best job in several industries while preparing customized resumes for each one. While we love the enthusiasm, we find that your results will be scattered too. Instead, define and prioritize your objectives. Focus on and industry or two and organize your information. Those with a clearly defined job search tend to have a more clearly defined result……a new job.
You are not playing “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” here – it’s your career and answers are not always final. See each “No” as an opportunity to be second in line. We realize everyone loves being picked first, but a lot of things can happen. Their first choice could have a better job offer, potentially decline or might not work out in a few weeks. Furthermore, this prospective employer could have a similar position opening soon. In other words, hold your head up, send that gracious thank-you note and make it harder for them to say “no” a second time.
Do: Demonstrate self-awareness, sincerity and problem-solving prowess by mentioning one area you could use to improve and proactively describe current and future measures you are taking to overcome this weakness.
Don’t: Act like you are flawless, being over-confident can ruin your rapport with many employers. Overly critiquing yourself can also show lack of confidence. Offering a core strength in an attempt to pull the old switcheroo will often backfire. Lastly, do not offer a transparently fake flaw such as “I work too hard”. Job interviewers will see right through many of these tactics.
Do: Research so you walk into the interview with a mid-depth knowledge of the company. Read the companies websites, product catalogs, new stories and marketing brochures. Have a solid grasp of the company’s mission, history, reputation and corporate culture. The more information you have, the more detailed examples you can provide as to why you are the perfect fit.
Don’t: Answer questions in the context of your financial needs. You will not be able to recover if you refer to the company’s good pay or strong benefits.
Do: Position yourself as realistically ambitious and most importantly flexible. Speak of your desire to continuously take on broader responsibilities as you climb up the corporate ladder one rung at a time. Emphasize your commitment to growing professionally and lifelong learning goals such as certifications, continued education and extension programs.
Don’t: Focus on impractical career objectives. Stating that you want to be the company’s next CTO when you are an entry level developer can portray the sense of unwarranted entitlement. Also steer clear of far-fetched scenarios and daydreaming – chances are you are not going to win the lottery.