How Do You Find a Job? Work For It.
COVID-19 has created a lot of challenges, but it has also sparked opportunities. Within our network, we have had a lot of people asking for advice about changing jobs or getting hired. Just the other week, an established writer reached out. She said that prior to COVID-19, she was seeing job offers weekly. Post-COVID, she lost her permanent job and had to move to full-time freelancing. She has since been looking for an hourly, full-time job without success.
The market has changed, and unemployment rates are nearing 15% in some areas. Rates are lingering around 11% across the country. The risk of a second wave of market weakness is now reality. Job seekers need to know that today’s market looks more and more like an employer’s market. Having the right techniques to get into a chosen career is now more important than ever before.
When it comes to nailing an interview or landing a job, we share below our Top 10 Insights from an employer’s perspective. Our team has hired hundreds of employees both in our company and within past organizations, and having an employer’s perspective can go a long way in your job search.
KNOW WHAT YOU WANT
First and foremost, you should understand what job role you really want. In recent years, having some “job hopping” on your resume has been common and even normal. Eighteen months is about the average length of employment at a location.
In this market, be ready to select a job where you can work for a period of 3+ years. Typically in times of higher unemployment, companies will want to avoid wasting the cost of hiring and training by avoiding employees they feel will leave after a short amount of time. So, pick a job you want and will find enjoyable for years to come.
FIND A COMPANY YOU LIKE
Do your research on organizations that you feel fit your desires. Services like GlassDoor will give you insight on what it is like to work for a company. I encourage this step, because it will take work to get an interview, so you should make sure that you actually want to work for that particular company before you put in that effort. Talking to friends and people within the industry to find an ideal location is also very important.
LEVERAGE YOUR NETWORK
In the past, unemployment levels were so low that if you simply showed up on time, you would probably get a job offer. In this market, you are likely going to see this type of mentality change.
After you pinpoint the role and company where you want to work, we recommend that you head to LinkedIn. Use your network to find someone who works at the company, leveraging them to fast track an interview or, at the very least, have someone to respond to your resume. This strategy works much better when you are targeting smaller companies compared to larger businesses that tend to have very strict policies defining who they will interview.
TAILOR YOUR RESUME FOR THE COMPANY
Once your resume is submitted, employers will first review it to see if you fit the role. Then they will see if you can work well with their team. Trust factor plays a huge role in team building—if you are not familiar with the trust factor, read the study completed by Google. You’ll want to make sure your resume addresses those two factors in some way.
Another critical factor an employer will consider is their company’s culture and goals. If you do not know their culture or goals, then your resume will not reflect what they want, which means that you will likely have a harder time getting the interview.
My brother works for Amazon and is frequently involved in the hiring process. He said if an individual getting interviewed fails to understand Amazon’s core principles and culture, it makes the job very hard to attain. If a company’s culture is what makes the company tick, then you want to be in line with their steps.
DO YOUR HOMEWORK
If you have made it to the table to be interviewed or screened, you want to make sure you spent time researching the company. The competitiveness in a weak market is going to be tremendously different compared to when unemployment was at record lows.
Prior to COVID-19, the interviewer was likely looking at a handful of interviewees. Today, the same HR person (depending on your industry) could be looking at literally 10X the number of interviewees. That means that you not only need to impress, but you have to connect. So, when they ask “why you,” the answer needs to be a precise response that is tailored to the company and your specific fit for the role.
REMEMBER WHY PEOPLE HIRE
When a company is hiring, the core reason is because they are looking for someone to help them grow the business and solve a need. This essential factor must be incorporated into all of your interview answers.
For example, if someone asks you why you applied for this job and your response is “Because I love what you do and am passionate about it,” you are going to lose against someone who understands why the company is hiring. Your answers must always return to the business’s needs.
THE CORE OF YOUR ANSWERS
Any time you answer a question, you want to bring the answer back to:
- How I can help you solve your current needs
- How I can help your company grow
- How I can be part of a team and take direction
- How I can be trusted to accomplish my work and be trusted by the team
- How I can work well with others and be part of a formula where 1+1=5
- How I can make the company a priority and solve client needs
- (And BTW because I love this stuff)
When you show a passion to solve the real needs of the organization—and then add your passion for the topic—you show you know what issues need to be tackled. When you can communicate clearly about the challenge and your passion to help solve it, you change the conversation.
When you listen closely to an interviewer’s questions and answer those questions in a way that shows how you can help the company, you change the conversation and make it about how you solve problems and provide services, instead of focusing on your needs. This shift is dramatic, and it will separate you from the crowd.
NEVER SAY YOU GAVE IT YOUR ALL
One thing I hear a lot is that interviewees will tell me that they “gave it their all.” For example, I will ask them to tell me about a situation that went south and how they handled it. Oftentimes the answer is “I did XYZ, and I gave it my all.” Any time you state that you did your best, you gave it your all, or you did what you could do, you are unknowingly telling the other party you have limits.
When someone tries to explain how something went wrong and how they then gave it their all, I then ask a few simple questions. Did you read about strategies on how to overcome this? Did you stay late and find a mentor to help you solve it? Did you work 90 hours those weeks to get it fixed? I ask these questions because oftentimes the answer will be no. In my mind, I am saying to myself, no wonder you don’t work there anymore. If you gave it your all and could not solve it, then you did not give it enough or you simply felt it was enough. Then, most of the time I will move to the next interviewee.
Recently, a new hire answered the question well. He said he failed at XYZ, and, since then, he has lost sleep over it. He felt he left it in good shape, but then started to ramble off things he has done since to ensure it will never happen again. He was honest about his shortcomings and explained how he did not just walk away from it. We gave him a job offer on the spot.
DEMONSTRATE A HUNGER TO LEARN
Every employer is looking for someone who continuously learns. In today’s economy, the survival of the fittest is a reality, and a lot of that stems from innovation. For a company to survive and, more importantly, grow, it needs a team that always wants to learn.
Things change faster today than they ever have in history. If you are familiar with Moore’s law or are simply paying attention to the world around you, the size and speed of innovation will truly leave you speechless. Because of this speed, employers want learners, and not just Googlers.
A common trend we see with employees is a general resourcefulness to solve a challenge, but lack of overall understanding. This means they are very good at solving what is in front of them, but larger scale challenges get missed. From my experience, I feel this type of mentality is a direct result of how we solve problems today.
When I was a child, I did not have the internet. When we went to learn, it typically was from a book. The book was laid out in a traditional means, where it explained how something came about, why it came about, how it works, and how it is changing. This holistic approach is missed when we simply Google an answer. We can get the answer faster, in most cases, but we don’t understand the why or how behind that answer.
I’m not always right, but there are many times when I can tell which employee is going to end up being a leader by how they learn. For example, we had a developer recently who would turn to Google when he faced a challenge. That developer was later replaced with one who relied on being a subject matter expert, rather than finding quick (but limited) answers online. The new developer was more well-rounded and a team leader that delivered constant results.
When we interview, we are looking for someone who reads and learns consistently. We want someone who never wants to be in a room and not know their topic well. As a result, we look for people who share what they are learning or how they solved a challenge through learning. When someone does not simply ask “What training will you give me?,” but rather asks “Outside of the training you provide, will I have a mentor who will push me further?,” he or she will get the job 9 out of 10 times.
Show your passion for learning in your interview responses. Be ready to answer the question: “What were the last 3 books you read?” Odds are low that you will be asked, but if you are, showing them that you take staying at the top of your game seriously will get you that much closer to being hired.
STOP ASKING HOW MUCH
When you are asked what questions you have, do not jump to vacation and salary. This disrupts the flow. Your win is getting a job offer. Once that offer is on the table, then make it about how much you can make or what kind of perks you can get. If that topic is not brought up, then do not ask it.
Instead, your questions to them should focus on:
- I want to be clear that this is the need
- I want to be clear on how I can help the team
- I want to be clear that when I perform, I will have opportunity
- I want to make sure that I will be in a team that desires to help the company grow like I do
- I want to make sure I am stepping into a team I can trust
- I want to make sure this will be a clear career step for growth
- I want to make sure I answered your hardest questions so you are confident in offering me a job, because I want to help you reach your goals
Realize that if you get the offer, you have the slight upper hand. Then you can negotiate.
Don’t fool yourself into thinking: “Well, I am asking because I don’t want to waste my time.” The question of “what is in it for me” will rarely help your cause. Plus, you put yourself in a better position if someone asks you “how were the other interviews?” At that point, you can honestly say “the other interviews were great. I received a handful of offers and turned them down. I am a good fit for many companies, but I am looking for a career and a company where I can be effective. I am not picky, but once I select the company to work with, they are going to get 110% from me and that is a commitment I am not just going to give to anyone.” That type of response will help you close the deal.
PICK THE RIGHT SPORT
When we talk to people who are having a hard time finding a job, they can often lose their confidence. As a result, I want to be clear on this challenge. First and foremost, look at yourself and ask: “What do I need to do for proper alignment?” Meaning, if you are doing or saying something that is not helping, then ask yourself how to reword it or approach it better.
I actually had one interview where a potential candidate told me that even if he messed up a project, he would never work more than 40 hours a week. If you have beliefs that don’t align with a company’s needs, you really need to look at them and realize that your words cause your outcomes.
If you are making wise decisions and learning, then do not lose faith in yourself. Realize that even an athlete like Michael Jordan could not play for the majors in baseball (but I believe he would have if he had a few more years), but he dominated in basketball. Every no is a learning experience, not a closed door. Sooner or later, if you keep learning, you will find the right sport (or spot) for you. A no never means that you are not capable; a no simply means that you have picked the wrong team or wrong sport.
Always be authentic. If the above recommendations are not you, then ignore them. You never want to go into a room and get an offer, only to realize that who you were in the interview is not really you. Both parties will be disappointed in that situation. Being authentic is essential.
At the end of the day, if you focus on how you can help the company and how you can make sure you are top of your game, you will find success. I encourage everyone to always learn, always read and listen. Invest in books instead of Netflix. We often drastically overestimate what we can do short-term and underestimate what we can do long-term. Always keep learning, and when it comes time to find a job, learn from your actions—never just mail it in.
by: Tracy Donofry and Dave Moore