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"The trouble with advice is that you can't tell if it's good or bad until you've taken it." —FRANK TYGER, EDITORIAL CARTOONIST AND COLUMNIST
WHO HAVE YOU BEEN LISTENING TO?
Everyone loves giving career advice to students and young professionals. Everyone thinks he is a career expert. You want to know the truth?
Very few people know what they are talking about.
When I reflect back on the career advice given to me over the last 10 years, I realize that most of it was inaccurate, and some of it actually stunted my development. Here is the secret: you have to be very coachable, open-minded, and willing to ask for advice, while at the same time skeptical about what you believe to be true.
Always consider the source. Funnel all advice through your own filter. Does the person's viewpoint sound logical? What is the perspective of the person giving you advice? Is this someone you should be listening to? Has this person gotten her dream job? Does she love her work? Do you want to be like her?
In case it's not clear, I am not saying that I am the only person worth listening to or that I am always right. Nope—I want you to challenge everything I tell you as well, so that you can make decisions on your own.
Here are 10 little-known job search and career success secrets I wish someone had told me when I was a student.
1. Employers Are Nervous, Too
You are not the only one who is anxious about the hiring process. The people doing the hiring are nervous, too. A bad hire can cost an organization thousands of dollars. Employers are even more nervous when times are tough. I didn't fully understand this mindset until I started my own business in 2009 and considered hiring my first employee. No matter what organization you want to work for and no matter what type of work you want to do, you will find that every employer and hiring person has six primary concerns about job candidates and new hires. One of your goals as a jobseeker is to make sure employers have no reason to believe that you have any of the following six traits:
* Dishonest. If an employer doesn't think you can be trusted, you aren't getting hired.
* Lazy. If an employer thinks you will not work hard or you will need your hand held at all times, you aren't getting hired.
* Difficult. If an employer thinks you are going to be a pain in the neck to manage or work with, you aren't getting hired.
* Uncommitted. If an employer thinks you might bolt for another job one month into your employment, you aren't getting hired.
* Unprofessional. If an employer thinks you might be a source of embarrassment (in person or online), you aren't getting hired. With the explosion of social media, this is becoming more of a concern.
* Unqualified. If an employer doesn't think you can get the job done better than anyone else, you aren't getting hired. Note: If you satisfy the first five fears, this last concern can often be eliminated. As a senior executive from a Fortune 500 company told me in 2011, "We hire for attitude and train for skill."
2. Every Employer Has the Same Four Needs
It's really easy to figure out what employers want. No matter what your dream job might be, every employer needs four variables from potential employees. Your task as a job-seeker is to prove that you can deliver these four needs better than anyone else:
* Belief. Employers want people who believe in themselves, and they want people who believe in the mission of their organization. One of the questions you will be asked (directly or indirectly) in any interview is "Why do you want this job?" If you don't have a great answer to that question, that's a sign you should be looking elsewhere. You aren't doing yourself or anyone else a favor by pursuing jobs you aren't really excited about, and you aren't doing yourself a favor by being overly humble.
* Excellence. It doesn't matter what your GPA is or how talented you are if your integrity is questionable or if you look like a slob. Excellence is essential for getting hired and for achieving career success. If you are still a student, you will be amazed after college at how easy it is to stand out in a good way at work. Most employees just do the bare minimum or worse. A little extra effort multiplies quickly over time, and it is always noticed by the people at the top.
* People/Communication skills. Regardless of your employer, you will have a boss, you will have colleagues, and your organization will serve other people, whether they are clients, customers, patients, donors, voters, subscribers, or students. To achieve career success, you must get along well with other people, and you must be able to communicate clearly and effectively with them.
* Results. The desired results are different based on the employer and your job, but employers hire people for one reason: to solve problems. Period. When you demonstrate that you deliver topnotch results, you will almost always get hired faster and promoted faster.
3. The Best Way to Get Your Dream Job Is to Stop Looking for Jobs and Look for People
Employers don't want to hire people they think are dishonest, lazy, difficult, uncommitted, unprofessional, or unqualified. They do want to hire people who have belief, excellence, people/communication skills, and the ability to deliver results. This presents a challenge, doesn't it? How can you possibly show an employer you are the right type of person if you are relying on your résumé alone to sell yourself?
The answer? you can't.
As a student in college, I was the right type of person, my résumé was perfect, and I spent hundreds of hours applying for jobs the traditional way. Do you know where it had me headed? My parents' basement!
When I finally ignored my networking fears and looked for people, I actually landed my dream job very easily. When you find the right people and impress those people, everything else will take care of itself. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that more than 70 percent of jobs are filled through networking and personal contacts. Getting a job is a true "relationship sale." It is literally one person or a group of people "buying" another person. As a result, doesn't it make sense to rely on other people to get hired?
Because most jobs are filled behind the scenes through personal contacts and networking, most jobs are also never advertised. If you rely only on advertised jobs during your job search, you will be missing somewhere between 50 and 80 percent of the opportunities that are actually out there. The only way to find those jobs and crack the "hidden job market" is to talk to people working in the organizations and industry you want to hire you.
Don't worry if you think you don't know anyone or if the word "networking" confuses or intimidates you. I didn't think I knew anyone when I was starting my career, and networking did not come naturally to me either. Chapters 5 and 6 will teach you everything you need to know on the subject.
4. Employers Look for Reasons to Exclude You, Not Include You
During a job search, your appearance and your behavior are put under a microscope, as employers make very quick assumptions about you based on your job search habits and communication skills. This is one reason why first impressions are so imperative to your success. Submit a résumé with one typo, and employers will assume you don't take pride in your work. Be rude to a secretary when you schedule an interview, and employers will assume you will also be rude to your colleagues or customers. Show up 10 minutes late for an interview, and employers will assume you won't be reliable on the job either. This might sound harsh, but it's all employers have to evaluate you. You get only one chance to make a first impression during your job search.
The good news is that this works the other way as well. Ask thought-provoking questions during an interview, and employers will assume you are smart and enthusiastic. Send a well-written thank-you note after an interview, and they will assume you will be thorough and pleasant on the job. Give a firm handshake, and they will assume you are confident and trustworthy.
You must put your best foot forward at all times throughout your entire job search. Employers make fast, sometimes inaccurate, judgments about your character, personality, and intelligence based on behaviors that may seem minor to you.
5. Every Great Employer Is Always Hiring
I actually left my dream job in the NBA in 2008, which I'll discuss later in this chapter. When I conducted a search then for a full-time job, I was able to get offers from three different organizations for jobs that each would have paid me at least $100,000 to $125,000 in year one. This was at the start of the recession when I was only 26 years old. While none of the employers was officially hiring, each organization was willing to create a job for me because of how I approached them. Two of the organizations were also in industries I had no experience in at all.
Every employer can and should create a job any time the right person comes along. Hiring someone is nothing more than an investment. If you can prove to the hiring decision maker that you will provide a positive Return on Investment (i.e., your value will significantly exceed your salary), then it would be stupid for the employer not to hire you. Great employers recognize this. Employers that don't understand this are organizations you shouldn't want to work for anyway.
If an organization is not consistently looking to hire top talent, then that organization is headed absolutely nowhere in the future. Great organizations recognize that they need to have a pipeline full of talent since they will inevitably experience change and turnover.
If someone tells you his organization is not hiring, he either doesn't want to hire you or he isn't the real decision maker.
6. Your Job Search Strategy Impacts the Interview Process and How You Will Be Treated After Being Hired
No employer will admit this publicly because every employer wants everyone to think its hiring and HR practices are uniform for all applicants and employees. Based on my own experience and some off-the-record conversations with employers, that's a load of garbage.
Without exception, interviews I have managed to land through job boards or traditional channels have always been much tougher than interviews I have gotten through personal contacts and networking. This makes sense. If employers don't know you or the person who referred you, they should test you more during the interview process.
When I walked into the Wizards' offices back in 2003 to interview for a full-time job, I was not "some kid found through Monster. com." Instead, I was "the kid referred by their former senior executive."
What do you think that did for my credibility before I even showed up for the interview? My first impression was taken care of well before I ever walked into their offices. Perhaps more important, what do you think it did for my confidence? I walked in with a halo around my head, and after I got over my initial anxiety about interviewing with the team president, I felt much more relaxed than in interviews with other companies where I lacked a personal connection. (Of course, you still need to prepare impeccably for every interview.)
The way you come into contact with an employer also dictates your ability to negotiate salary, although negotiating power can be limited for students and young professionals.
In short, when you get yourself to the interview through networking, you position yourself as someone who is more resourceful, committed, and connected than someone who simply could be applying to jobs at random online. That resourcefulness and focus also make you appear more valuable and make the company want you more. Want proof that this matters? I once negotiated a $50,000 increase in my starting salary because I knew the CEO of a company interviewing me. The chances of me being able to do that if I had landed the job interview after applying through a job board?
Finally, the way you approach an employer initially also dictates how you will be treated after getting hired. Again, no organization will admit this to be true. However, if you get hired because you know a senior executive in the organization, you better believe you will be treated better than if you somehow manage to get hired without any personal/internal endorsements. Part of this will be subconscious, and part of this will be intentional.
7. It's Easier to Get a Job That Is Not Advertised Than a Job That Is Advertised
On the surface, this comment seems illogical, but it's absolutely true for a few reasons. First of all, if a job is promoted to the public, you are certainly not the only person who can see it or apply for it. When a job is advertised, an organization can receive hundreds of applications within a matter of hours. Some top employers even receive thousands of unsolicited résumés every week. Good luck standing out in a pile of 13,279 résumés. (On a side note, the best way to stand out in a stack of résumés is not to use keywords or a high-tech software program to beat a computer system's screening process. The best way to stand out in a stack of résumés is to never end up in the stack in the first place, as you will learn how to do in Chapters 5 and 6.)
Second, many publicly advertised jobs are not currently available. When you see an advertised job (regardless of where and how it is being promoted), it is often too late because the job has already been filled. There is no foolproof way to know, although the longer the job has been posted, the less likely it is still vacant. In some cases, employers just want to see who is out there, and they aren't 100 percent committed to or even that serious about hiring someone. Have you ever given online dating a try just to "see what's out there"? Employers engage in noncommittal scoping, too.
Last, most job openings are never publicly advertised to begin with; employers only promote a job opening to the public as a total last-ditch effort. Put yourself in the shoes of a hiring person for a second. Would you rather hire someone you found on Craigslist or someone you trust from your existing network? It's a no-brainer. When I worked for the Washington Wizards, HR would send a memo to the entire staff whenever a position became available. We could then talk to our supervisors about applying if we wanted to change jobs within the company, or we could refer people we knew. Jobs were frequently filled without needing to look outside the organization. Some companies even compensate their employees for helping them identify talent "behind the scenes." For example, my college roommate once played in a basketball league with a guy who tried to convince him to work for his company. We later learned that the guy would have gotten a $2,500 bonus if my friend had been hired through the referral.
8. It Is Easier to Get Your Dream Job than Most Other Jobs
This comment probably sounds crazy as well, but it's also 100 percent true. You will be much more motivated during your job search if your goal is to get your "dream job" rather than if your goal is just to get "a job." your motivation will lead to a more resourceful, positive mindset than if you just do what everyone else does and aim low. A better attitude will also make you more appealing as a job-seeker.
One reason I got a front-office job in the NBA at such a young age (while being ignored or rejected for other opportunities for which there was less competition) is because of how badly I wanted that NBA job. This burning desire oozed out of me when I was networking and when I was interviewing, and it made me a much more appealing candidate.
On the other hand, when I applied to jobs I randomly learned about through job boards or career fairs or on-campus recruiting, it was incredibly difficult for me to sell myself in a compelling manner. I had to fake my interest, and employers were not fooled. In hindsight, I'm very thankful those organizations blew me off! If they had hired me anyway, I probably would have ended up in a job I disliked.
Excerpted from I GOT MY DREAM JOB and So Can You by PETE LEIBMAN Copyright © 2012 by Pete Leibman. Excerpted by permission of AMACOM. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Introduction: My Story and Why You Should Read This Book 1
Part I Getting Your Dream Job Is S.I M.P.L.E.
Chapter 1: Most Career Advice Is Wrong 13
Chapter 2: Start (Step #1) 26
Chapter 3: Identify (Step #2) 41
Chapter 4: Makeover (Step #3) 63
Chapter 5: Plan (Step #4) 92
Chapter 6: Look (Step #5) 116
Chapter 7: Execute (Step #6) 145
Part II Skyrocket Your Career with Step #7 (B.E.P.R.O.)
Chapter 8: Belief (Success Secret #1) 173
Chapter 9: Excellence (Success Secret #2) 182
Chapter 10: Performance (Success Secret #3) 192
Chapter 11: Relationships (Success Secret #4) 201
Chapter 12: Out-of-Office Life (Success Secret #5) 213
Chapter 13: Be an Entrepreneur 222
Appendix A: Leibman’s Lexicon—The New Glossary for Career Success 233
Appendix B: Leibman’s Lists—The Top Resources for Ambitious Young Professionals 237
About the Author 246
Posted August 13, 2012
Recruitment consultant Peter Leibman shows students and young professionals how to find a personally fulfilling job, even if they have little or no work experience. Leibman’s enthusiasm is contagious and inspiring, but he makes getting a dream job look easy. Those who are unwilling to work at it will be disappointed. getAbstract recommends Leibman’s advice to recent college graduates, young professionals and career changers of all ages who know what they want but not how to get there.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 21, 2012
Pete Leibman does a wonderful job helping those without direction navigate through the traps/fallacies of career searching and helps streamline the process for effective, immediate results. His methodical, but thought out approach is practical for those who are lost in trying to figure out their purpose in life. This book is recommended for the bright-eyed college student and anyone who feels like they are not in the right vocation. It is never too late to get your dream job!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.