On the back of a recent article by Wojo CEO and Co-founder Liz (which you can read HERE), we would like to share another attempt of how to best approach job searching by one of our readers, who wishes to remain anonymous.
Job searching is nearly like playing games - the process can seem unfair but actually, everyone is more or less equal when it comes to finding a new job - it's just how you go about the search and interviews that matters!
Job searching is mostly a numbers game. You're going to send lots of applications but all you really need is to get one offer. And that's the good news. Understandably, you wouldn’t expect that all of your applications were for your dream job.
If you're not getting anywhere further with your application, it is likely you either lack the necessary skills or experience. That is usually the case when trying to get a new job in a new industry - either as a graduate or a career changer.
When sending a CV, I tend to research the company, understand what they're trying to achieve and figure out what I could bring to the table. Once I have a clue about that, I tweak my CV so that my past experiences are more relevant to the company that I am applying to.
Tailoring your CV is a time-consuming exercise - especially when you’re not so much interested in the role as you are in getting interview experience. It’s not so uncommon to do so and not very different than for instance training for a tennis tournament - you're going to play a lot of sparring matches before you compete in a real one.
The best interviews I had are the ones in which the conversations were genuinely enjoyable - where both sides were engaged and learned something new from one another.
Overall, an interview is an opportunity to let the company’s representatives get to know who you are, what you enjoy and what you're great at. For people to learn those things about you, you need to recognise it in yourself first. And you also need to make it clear for other people.
In "How to Win Friends & Influence People" Dale Carnegie makes this remark:
First, arouse in the other person an eager want. He who can do this has the whole world with him.
As an applicant, your aim is to create a desire in you interviewer to hire you.
During the interview process, it's a common opening question to be asked to introduce yourself and tell about your experience. It was always a difficult question for me and I never had a coherent and compelling story to tell. I did not think I needed one.
However, one day I started writing my thoughts down on a piece of paper. I'd briefly state my name and professional experience, focusing on the most challenging projects that I thought were more compelling for the position I was applying for. I think a certain degree of tailoring goes a long way towards winning the prize. It makes the point that you're a good candidate for the position and you can bring value to the company. It also signals that you researched the company.
Once you have it written down, try to rehearse it and record yourself while doing it. If you know the interview will be over the phone, record it on your phone. If it's going to be on Zoom, Skype or the like, do it on your computer. You want to create similar conditions to the ones you'll have in the real interview and get at ease with it. Listen back to the recording. How did you sound? Were you talking naturally or were you reading a script? Did the story sound interesting to you? Would you be interested in hiring somebody with that story?
These are just some of the questions you might ask. The point is that you want to sound confident, thoughtful and professional. Listening back to yourself might feel strange and uncomfortable to some people - it was for me. You'll eventually get used to it. This step is important because it allows you to improve the story and the way you say it until you're satisfied with it.
Let’s talk about rejection. It only takes one job offer but when it comes to applications, you are going to send more than one. Therefore, it means getting rejected. It's important to assess whether you are not getting further in the application process because you're lacking the required skills or experience or the company is not a good fit for you.
It's important to realise this because job searching is also a psychological game. Getting rejected is uncomfortable and not something to look forward to. You need to get comfortable with rejections and maintain your self-esteem. This is a skill that most people need to learn. Sam Zell in his autobiography recalls how a summer job as a travelling salesman taught him that:
While I was unaware of it at the time, my real compensation for that job wasn't monetary. It was learning about and getting comfortable with rejection. And as I would later realise, indifference to rejection is a fundamental part of being an entrepreneur.
Perhaps in the job searching game you don't want to become indifferent, instead you want to get as much information as you can out of that rejection. Asking for specific feedback after a rejection is incredibly useful to assess what you need to improve on. It also provides insight as to what the company values in a candidate and in general how it treats people. It might also turn out that what they're looking for is not what you are looking for. And this could transform a rejection into something positive, because you found out early on that you were not a good fit.
Rejections might undermine your self-esteem and you need to be prepared for that. How are you supposed to build your self-esteem if you're bound to get rejected many more times than you get accepted for a job? That's going to be challenging and you should be aware of it.
If you want to read more about handling rejection, go read our article ‘Handling Job Rejection: Useful Tips How To Stay Positive’.
Job searching is also a financial game. You want to be paid what you consider a fair amount for your skills and contributions. And you probably won't raise any objection if you're paid more than what you consider fair. Most of the times in my experience, a company asks for salary expectations very early on in the process. Try not to disclose that information too early. Ideally, you want the company to come up with a figure that can be used as a starting point for negotiation.
If asked, it could be quite useful to say that salary is not important at this stage, and that you’re confident a compromise can be reached if you decide whether the company is a good fit for you. Once you get an offer, at that point the company has already spent time, effort and money to get to know you through the process and they might lose the resources if you turn down their offer. I found this a very important point to keep in mind because it completely changes the way you're going to negotiate.
When it comes to negotiation, "Ten Rules for Negotiating a Job Offer" is by far the best piece of writing on the topic. An interesting book is "Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In” which stresses the importance of framing negotiation as a non-antagonistic process where parties try to meet each other's needs. The concept of "growing the pie" is crucial. A successful negotiation should not have a winner but rather, it should create or reinforce trust and improve relationships. It should not focus solely on the monetary aspect but actually reveal the values and the incentive structure for both you and the company.
Another factor influencing the negotiation is your personal financial situation. If your financial situation negatively influences your ability to negotiate, you might end up accepting an offer only because of the financial stability it promises. Getting an offer for the job you want could mean turning down offers for jobs you don't want. Even if they pay more. In the end you decide. The important difference is in how you reach that decision and how much control you have. And that's an important difference.
If you’re interested in more, sign up to Wojo and explore our coaching tasks that will help you improve your job search as well as help with professional growth.