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Monday, October 1, 2018

How To Get That Job You Really Want

Pic by @shotsbyfifi

Trying to find a new job is always daunting. Whether you're planning to jump ship from a different job or you're unemployed and looking for work, job hunting is always a soul-crushing process that can leave you feeling less confident about your professional capabilities than when you started.

After graduating university (and despite having earned a 1st class honours degree with plenty of industry-relevant work experience), I still struggled to find a job. Don't get me wrong, I always knew that job-hunting in London would be a cut-throat experience, but there were a lot of things I didn't expect.

Now that I've secured what I can confidently label as "my dream job", I can share my experience and advice on how to land that job you really, really (please, please, please) want.

Getting through the phone interview

You've applied to 100+ jobs on LinkedIn and you've filtered through the dozens of "we will not be taking your application further" emails. (Good, that feels great. Thanks, guys.)

Although it's more easily said than done, try to not worry too much about the reasons why you've been rejected. There are a hundred reasons why an employer might decide that you're not the right fit for the job, and most of the time it's not actually for any reason you should take personally.

Amongst the rejections, you land that initial phone interview for a job you're really keen on. Hooray! This is usually my favourite step in job applications because it's made of pure excitement. But how do you prepare for it?

Step 1 - Do your research

I think this goes without saying, but make sure you know about the company you've applied for a job at! Applying for hundreds of jobs can mean that you've forgotten all about the companies you've applied for, but make sure to look them up and find out more about the work they do.

My first response is always to browse through the company website and take notes. Then, I will look through their LinkedIn and social media. Twitter is a particularly great place to find out about recent developments and announcements.

If you've been sent a job description document, read through it and make sure you can provide the interviewer with information about you and your experience that is relevant to the job.

Step 2 - Creep without being creepy

One thing I never considered about job interviews is how much your potential success in being hired relies on how well you get on with your interviewer over the phone. Some people have a very straight-to-business approach to phone interviews, but certain companies have huge team morale and will want to get a good sense of your personality right away.

If you know who your interviewer will be, look them up on LinkedIn. Try to find out about them so you can prepare and know which tone will be right for your phone interview. Do they seem like a fun, relaxed person? My best interviews have come from having researched the person I was going to speak to, which helped me feel less intimidated and more comfortable.

(Just don't accidentally like their Instagram pictures or follow them on anything before you land the job... You don't want them to think you're a bit weird.)

Step 3 - Prepare your answers

You should be able to recite your entire CV off by heart, but interviewers will go through a series of questions that can totally trip you up if you haven't prepared some standard answers.

This is where all of your research in Step 1 will come in handy. The questions you'll be asked will depend on what kind of job you've applied for, so I'd recommend doing a quick search for common interview questions within the industry you've applied to work in.

One thing that truly helped me feel confident was taking the time to physically write down the questions and answers so that I could have them in front of me during the phone interview. Doing this will make it less likely for you to slip up on your answers or forget what you've planned to say!

Step 4 - Ask questions

Nothing ends your interview and ensures you won't get a call back like saying "I have no questions, I think you've covered everything!" Even if you have nothing to ask, pull something out of your proverbial hat.

Some interviewers are very good at clearing all basic information with you so that you feel like you have no real questions, but you should use this opportunity to turn the interview on them. Everyone likes being asked questions that make them feel like you're interested, so use this to your advantage! 

These are some of my go-to questions that have always received a positive response:

1. If you had to describe your office environment in 3 words, which words would you use?
2. Which is your favourite project that you've worked on at [company name]?
3. What is your favourite thing about working for [company name]?
4. You can be really honest, how do you feel this interview went?

Step 5 - Follow up

My common practice is following up with my interviewer right after the call. I will always drop them an email to thank them for their time, and to let them know that I'm looking forward to hearing back regarding the next steps.

Your interviewer is likely to be swamped with other applicants, so it's nice to send them a written reminder. Most applicants won't do this and it will give you a slight leg-up in the whole process.

Do not pester your interviewer. It can take anywhere between a day and a week for applicants to hear back regarding a job, especially where other interviews are still taking place. One email straight after your first phone call and a follow-up if you haven't heard anything a week after is enough.



You've passed your phone interview, what next?

Congratulations! Passing the initial phone interview is a sign that the employer is very interested in you - they wouldn't waste their time meeting you, otherwise.

Every job is different in terms of the next steps, so you might have been invited for a formal interview with your potential future boss or you might have been asked to prepare a presentation showcasing your skills. Whatever that "next step" is in your hiring process, just remember that you've already built an impression of who you are over the phone. All you have to do now is solidify that impression in person!

Putting your best foot forward during an in-person interview is really about body language and being yourself. Make sure you're dressed to meet the standard requirements in your industry and that you've brushed your teeth. Keep your back straight, smile a lot and take your time when speaking. It's easy to speak really fast and stumble on your words when you're nervous, but it's important that you appear to be calm and confident (even if you're shitting your pants a bit).

Last of all, good luck!

It's easy to feel disheartened when job interviews don't go the way you want them to. Being rejected for a job you feel you'd be great for is a hard pill to swallow, but there will be other jobs and other opportunities.

Remember that every 'no' is a 'yes' to something better, and you'll get there! Just keep pushing and most importantly: Do not stop applying for jobs until you have a signed contract in your hands. Keep your own interests at the top of your priorities so that you have a backup plan in case things fall through.
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