Hello, my dear reader. How are you really?
Today I will share with you part of my career journey from when I moved to the United States with two degrees from two different countries and still had a difficult time finding a job where I could use my skills and knowledge, and make more money, of course.
You might have read my book "I Know What You Need To Succeed," where I gave all interesting bits of advice about career growth. But sometimes, it is good to get it fresh in our minds and go back to some snippets of it, again and again, to continue moving and growing.
You might know that ten years ago, when I arrived here as an immigrant, none of my experience and education mattered, and I had to start all over again to prove myself to others and myself.
I started as a sandwich artist, waitress, and hostess and was eager to move up. At that time, I decided that my next step would be to be a receptionist in a hotel.
In the process of looking for that job, I made more than a few mistakes that cost me time and energy.
Today, looking back, I want to give you a list of everything I did wrong and how to do it right from the get-go.
1. Figure out what you are looking for
It happens often for many of us, especially when trying to re-enter the workforce after taking a break to raise children. Often we lack confidence and are looking for “just a job,” and deep down, we don’t know specifically what we want. And it happens not just with a job but overall in life. We might know that we want to do better, but what is “better,” exactly? We have no idea. And we just throw spaghetti at the wall, hoping that some of it will stick. That is exactly what I did for several months, and that is why no one responded to my applications and many resumes that were sent. And because we make so many messy attempts, most of them are low quality. Mine weren’t an exception. I filled out so many applications that I didn’t take time to do them thoroughly, as though I really wanted this job. Believe me, it shows on the other side of that application.
First, you need to figure out what job you are looking for, maybe even what company or place you want to work in. And then take time to create the best application for that specific position. Imagine yourself already taking that job, appreciate it, and write the resume to match.
2. Create a perfect resume for this one ideal position that you want
Please pay attention to the following message I am about to convey. You probably won’t agree with me, especially if you are in the situation I was in and didn’t have $200 to spend on support to get a job so you could make more money. I thought the same until it finally hit me several years later.
I wrote my own resume, and it was a disaster. That resume never would have won me the job I wanted right away. In fact, it took me six months, and I only got my first reception position because very few people want a seasonal job that lasts only three months.
One of the best decisions I ever made was to pay for resume writing services. No one can write you a better resume than the person looking at that resume to hire you, right? People who do it professionally know exactly how your resume needs to look and sound to make it irresistible to your next employer.
I know it is an investment! But it is well worth it. My new and improved resume landed me a job right away, and people are still calling and writing me almost weekly to offer me a position in property management. My resume is still out there on some websites. As I said, I realized it much later in my career. But you can do it now.
I actually shared my winning property management resume on my website at www.ambitiouswe.com/resume. You are welcome to steal it.
3. Go the extra mile
After perfecting your resume and taking time to fill out your application, go the extra mile. If there is a phone number or a company name listed, give them a call. Tell them you just submitted your application, give them your name, and say you would love to come for an interview. Believe me, it will make you stand out and show them that you are damn serious about getting that job.
Of course, I didn’t do that, because I was afraid to call someone I didn’t know and say, “I want to come for an interview, please look at my application.”
I realized this when I was on the other side of it and hiring my own crew. The candidate who stood out to me most was the one who delivered his resume by hand and told me that he wanted the job and would work hard. Simple, right? But that was out of the ordinary in the age of emails and the internet. So, guess who got the job? He did. And once he was hired, he always went the extra mile. Thanks, Chuck, for teaching me that lesson. Honestly, now I can’t even remember if he had a resume… I think he just showed up; we talked, and then I gave him an application. Anyway, I was impressed.
4. Prepare for the interview
Learn everything you can find online about the company you’re interviewing for. Learn names and faces, and their mission and values. Make sure their values align with yours; otherwise, you will probably feel miserable working there. Prepare your own list of questions, and take a notepad and pen with you.
5. At the interview
Show up 15 minutes early. If you are running late, call ahead to let them know. But try to be on time always.
Before you walk in, take a few deep breaths and calm down. When walking in, smile and shake their hand (if it is okay to do so—you know, with COVID, things changed a bit).
Be nice. Sell yourself high. Tell them why they need you and why you are their best option.
When they ask you what questions you have, pull out your own list and interview them. You can even write down their answers. Ask anything that you want to know. You can modify the following questions to suit your position:
When would my shifts be?
How many hours a week would I work?
Do you provide insurance?
What about vacation and paid time off?
What location would I work at?
Will I have training? How long would it last?
Is there an opportunity to move up?
Do you provide any classes or pay for ongoing education?
Who would I report to?
What is the dress code?
Believe me, it is good that you ask questions. They will think you are serious and want the job. They might even be surprised by how prepared you are. You might get the job just because of that. But please make sure your questions are relevant and tactful. Don’t say something like “Can I wear jeans to work?” if you see everyone else wearing suits. But a question like “Do you have casual Fridays?” probably would be just fine.
Ask them when they think they’ll have a decision and when you can call them to follow up.
6. After the interview
The next day, write them an email. Thank them for taking the time to meet with you and tell them that you hope to work for a company like that and have a manager or mentor like them.
If they gave you a deadline for their decision, call them on that day or the day after. Don’t be afraid to be annoying; all you are doing is showing that you care.
Remember, they are people too. They have probably been in a position like yours and will understand how it feels.
I hope this article was helpful. If you are looking for a job, I encourage you to apply my advice to your search. I promise it will make your life easier and help you to achieve your career goals.
Here are some additional tips that I would like to add:
Don't give up. The job search can be tough, but it is important to stay positive and persistent. Don't give up on your dreams; keep applying until you find the right one.
Network with people. Attend industry events, join online forums, or reach out to people you know who work in the field you would like to get in. Networking is a great way to learn about job opportunities and make connections.
Don't be afraid to ask for help. If you are struggling with your job search, there are many resources available to help you. Talk to a career coach, join a professional association, or reach out to a mentor.
As your Life & Career Coach, I believe in you! You can achieve your career goals.