There’s a lot of job search advice out there, but most of it is cookie-cutter advice from self-proclaimed experts.
You know the advice:
- “Pursue your passion.” (I’m torn about this advice. My thoughts oscillate between the realities of pursuing a passion versus earning a good living.)
- “Leverage your network.”
- “Tailor your resume.”
- “Resumes shouldn’t exceed two pages.”
- “Research the company.”
- “Dress for success.”
If you want to gain a competitive advantage in your job search, you can’t simply follow cliché job search advice.
Here are four job search strategies rarely recommended. Implementing these tactics into your job search will give you a competitive advantage and most likely shorten your job search.
- Tell everyone you meet you’re looking for a job.
Hiring managers, HR managers, and recruiters are human and, therefore, part of families, social circles, clubs, etc.
Let’s say you are trying to find a mechanic to fix your 2007 Ford Escape’s transmission or a new doctor. What are you likely to do? You’d ask around for recommendations. Why not do the same regarding finding a job? It’s possible your neighbour’s sister-in-law works at a company that’s hiring.
Due to the number of job openings available, there’s a high probability that the person sitting next to you in your dentist’s waiting room is directly connected to a job opening or is only one person away from one.
Networking indiscriminately casts a broader net than networking with professionals in your industry or companies you wish to work for. Hence, you’re encompassing people you never thought could be attached to a job opportunity.
Regardless of who you’re engaging with, a cashier, barista, gas station attendant, your Uber driver mention you’re looking for a job and what kind of job you’re looking for. Prepare an elevator speech and learn a skill that has benefited me throughout my career: Making small talk. Become comfortable chatting up strangers. Whenever you meet someone, you never know who they’re connected to.
Recommendation: How to Talk to Anyone About Anything: Improve Your Social Skills, Master Small Talk, Connect Effortlessly, and Make Real Friends, by James W Williams
- Boring isn’t going to get you a job.
Yes, throughout your job search, you must present a professional image and be articulate when conveying the value you can bring to an employer. However, being “professional” doesn’t mean being boring. The best way to differentiate yourself from other candidates interviewing for the same position is to be memorable.
Few people get hired because they have a supposed perfect resume. Nor are people hired because they memorized a list of questions to ask a hiring manager or were dressed for success. This “trying to be perfect” makes you appear fake and non-genuine, which I find to be off-putting. You have my permission to find your sweet spot between being polished and endearing. Candidates who are memorable and likable are most likely to be hired.
There isn’t a hiring manager who doesn’t want to feel that they are speaking with an authentic candidate. I gravitate toward candidates who are open and candid with me; it shows they have confidence. The last thing I want is to hire Dr. Jekyll and discover on the first day that I’ve hired Dr. Hyde instead. (I made that mistake more than once, hard lesson learned.)
Job search truism: Being likeable supersedes your skills and experience.
Put more emphasis on being likeable, memorable, and charismatic than on behaving professionally and how you dress.
- When applying for jobs online, save a copy of the job responsibilities and requirements.
Often when the application deadline has passed, the job is taken down. Hence, if you’re invited for an interview, you won’t have the information you need to discuss how your experience and skills align with the job.
The job description will also be helpful should you get the job. Having the job description allows you to refer to it to ensure you are doing everything expected of you and getting the training you need.
- Thank you matters.
Maybe it’s just me, but I sense a growing degradation of manners and courtesy in today’s society. Thus, having manners sets you apart from your competition and makes you memorable, which is what you want.
I’ve often narrowed down candidates to two with similar skills and experience. Sometimes the candidates were so equally qualified it was literally a coin toss. When a candidate sent me a thoughtful, non-robotic thank-you email, guess who I hired.
If you want the job, always send a thank you note to your interviewer(s) ASAP after an interview. Thank them for their time, express your enthusiasm for wanting to join the company and give an additional reason why you’d be a perfect fit for the job and the company. Thank you notes do have a positive impact.
Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers advice on searching for a job. You can send Nick your questions at [email protected].