While my blog is most often about writing, books, and entrepreneurship, I spent 10 years in corporate business development and sales before becoming a full-time writer, the last 5 of which were in the recruiting industry.
And sometimes, I like to dive back into that world and share some knowledge!
So, let’s talk about job hunting.
HGTV has a million shows about looking for a new home. And when looking for a new home to purchase, you have to really drill down and understand exactly what you’re looking for.
What are your NEEDS versus your WANTS? What is absolutely required in order for you to put your hard-earned money into a home? What can be done later, or changed, to be exactly what you want (paint color!)? What do you like and dislike about specific homes, neighborhoods, and prices?
Job hunting is basically the exact same thing. Before you engage in the search, you must ask yourself:
- What do I NEED in a new job?
- What do I really love or not love about my career/current job/industry?
- What are my dealbreakers?
- What would I WANT in a new job, if I could have anything?
When you look for a home to buy, it all comes down to location, location, location.
Jobs are similar. Do you want to stay in the same general ‘location’ or are you looking for a change?
If you’re thinking about changing industries, say from legal to a financial institution, or from a museum to a law firm, you need to do some research. What is the current job market like in your city for that new industry? How difficult is it to make that transition? Would you still want to make that transition if it meant going laterally or down in salary?
Ask yourself and formulate answers to:
- Are my skills transferable? How can I articulate that in an interview?
- Why does this new industry look good for me?
- What will I get from this new industry that I am not getting from my current field/industry?
You should also be completely clear about how the other industry is different from your current one.
If you have the opportunity to, sit down with a pro and really learn about the new field or industry to determine how different/similar it is to what you’re already doing and decide whether those changes are what you want. You can find a professional on LinkedIn or by asking people on social media.
Tailor/customize your approach
Every industry has its own quirks.
And every company has a specific idea of what they’re looking for.
When applying to a new position, make sure you’re carefully reading the job description and that your resume highlights what the job is looking for. It’s completely okay — nay, encouraged — for you to edit or revise your resume to suit the job you’re applying for.
You should also be tailoring your cover letter/email to fit what the company is looking for, and you should name the company specifically in the email, as well as reference the specific job you’re applying to and why you’d be a good fit.
Make sure to research the company thoroughly. Websites like Glassdoor have some information on the interview process, as well as salary information.
When you’re applying for jobs, the skill level needed and salary offered are extremely important for you to know, so you aren’t wasting your time and effort on something you would not accept if offered.
5 Great Interview Tips
Here are a few general interview tips to help you make a great first — and second — impression.
- Dress nicely and make sure you don’t look rumpled. You don’t have to wear a full suit if it is a more casual atmosphere (like tech) but always go 1-2+ steps above what you think you’d wear to work every day working there. For example, in the tech industry, most people wear jeans and t-shirts or an untucked button-down to work. For the interview, at the minimum, throw on khakis, a tucked-in button-down, and non-sneaker shoes. If it is a more formal work environment, always go for the suit. But either way, comb your hair, lint-roller your jacket, and iron your shirt if necessary.
- Have a nice, firm handshake and look the person in the eyes while shaking. Smile and say hello and introduce yourself. People underestimate how important a confident handshake can be!
- Know your “elevator pitch.” Almost every interview will start with some variation of “So, tell me about yourself.” They already have your resume in front of them, so they are not looking for you to recite it to them, nor do they really care about your passion for kayaking. Try to have a few sentences you can say about who you are. I like to break it down like this: first sentence is your name and current job title/company. Second is your top 2–3 responsibilities in that job, the third sentence is why you’re looking to make a move, and fourth is why you’re interested in this specific job and company. It sandwiches in some great information and also reinforces that you are interested in THIS job specifically, not just any job.
For example, my “elevator pitch” if I were to start looking for a new job now might look something like this:
“Hi, my name is Jyssica Schwartz, and I am a full-time freelance writer and editor. Some of my main responsibilities, outside of actually writing and editing, are marketing myself and finding new clients, being extremely organized for my company and my clients, and continuing to learn and grow my business. I’m looking to transition into a full-time corporate role now, where I can focus on the writing and editing and not on running a business. I am particularly interested in this job at ABC Company because of your passion for incorporating technology and traditional writing and your focus on social good.”
- Do research ahead of time and have questions to ask at the end of the interview. Make sure to do at least basic research on the company and have some specific questions to ask, as they will inevitably ask “Do you have any questions for us?” And yes, you should. It shows you are interested in them as a company and are taking it seriously, as well as shows them that you took the step to research them.
- Follow up with a thank you email after the interview. It sounds simple, but a lot of interviewees do not do this. It not only is polite and courteous, but it reiterates your interest in the role. Be sure to spell check and grammar check your email before sending — and double-check the spelling of the person’s name.
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