As you move through the professional job cycle, do you compare it to romantic, personal relationships? Whether you personally begin a relationship, watch other people or see it on the big screen, the parallels should give you pause. In our next few blogs, I want to help you understand the hiring process better from a common human experience.
When we begin a job search, the decision to submit yourself as a candidate demands the same knowledge, confidence and vulnerability as asking someone out on date. The old expression “there are many fish in the sea” certainly applies to jobs; however, the best professionals distinguish quickly those that suit them and pursue them relentlessly.
How do you meet someone who you might romantically pursue? I think of long friendships that evolve over time, instant sparks flying across the bar room, friends who make introductions. Professionally, we find the best jobs in a number of ways too. Recruiters call us, algorithms place a job advertisement on our social network feeds or a colleague calls with an awesome opportunity that reminded them of us (the latter certainly makes me feel the best!). Regardless of how it comes your way, something peaks your interest and you read on.
As someone who works at a staffing firm, I’d like to offer you a brief insight into the recruiter-candidate relationship: when a recruiter calls you, they know you typically from an online profile or a referral. Two lessons here for everyone: first, your online profile should accurately reflect you and your intensions. If you do not want calls from recruiters, do not post that you are “actively looking.” Similarly, if you either play down or up your skill set, you waste your time with calls about inapplicable work. Second, the best staffing firms use referrals. Referrals stem from good, long term relationship with your peers. Firms that use referrals want you to thrive beyond your next role and, if someone referred you, some part of you sticks out as a match for the role.
Beyond the first attraction, we need to make informed decisions about relationships and work. In the job search, you need to asses three things: your credentials in light of the role, the location for your commute and the company culture.
First, before you do anything, read the job description and ask yourself, “am I qualified and does this reflect what I want to do?” I recommend a highlighter exercise. Take a green, red and yellow highlighter and look at a job description. Green represents things you do with confidence, red represents things you cannot do and yellow represents things you can learn on the job with your current experience. This helps to visualize the role in light of your skills. Second, location matters overtime in a role. Are you able to commute in a reasonable time each day? Would you move closer to the location, if not? Can you meet the cost of commuting? These practical considerations should be addressed in your mind up front before you waste time on an interview process. Last, company culture is the most difficult to discern prior to the interview process. You can use research tools to gain insight into an organization. Ultimately, you want to know, “What is it like here and how would I fit in?”
After you initially learn about the role, you make the decision to apply for the role and submit yourself as a candidate. This means offering your credentials, references, time for interviews and anything else the employer may want. In asking someone out, you choose after learning enough about them to satisfy your curiosity to put yourself out there. This bold and courageous step should be admired even if you don’t get the interview or the date.
In the office, we need to be courageous in our meetings, discussion and desk work. Companies only benefit from a free exchange of ideas among employees. Applying for a position expresses courage and a willingness to be critically evaluated.
While you certainly will learn more and more during the interview process, doing your homework will help you understand your attraction to a role, enable you to speak more completely about yourself in light of the job description and save you lots of time if you don’t fit the company.
Look out for our next blog on the interview process.