Girl Talk Career Blog

May 22, 2010

Hired! The Old-Fashioned Way

Filed under: career worthy — lisalahey @ 1:16 am

To give the devil his (her?) due there are several pieces of fairly modern advice a friend of mine (we’ll call her Cassie) used in order to secure herself a new job as a sales rep in an IT company.  You’ve heard them before:

  1. Tailor your resume to appeal to the position.
  2. Do your homework. Research the organization and make sure you go into the interview as fully informed about “them” as you can.
  3. Ask questions about the position you are looking for at the start of the interview before the interviewer begins querying you (interview the interviewer).
  4. Dress for success. Wear a pantsuit in a neutral colour, rather than a skirt suit and don’t wear a dress.
  5. Arrive 10 – 15 minutes early.
  6. Bring a copy of your resume preferably in a briefcase or another professional bag, a notebook and a pen. Nix the purse.
  7. Know and rehearse answers to tough interview questions such as “what is your greatest strength?”
  8. Follow up with a thank you card or an email.

Now this was the scenario that followed:

Cassie admits to using some of this advice and she said it gave her a lot of confidence and seemed to work in her favour (obviously because she’s the one who got hired). However she didn’t use or need the majority of it. Interestingly she happened to have the chance to check out her competition before she went into the interview. Here is a post-mortem of how Cassie found and landed her dream job:

  1. Cassie she dressed in a navy, 2-piece pantsuit with very conservative jewellery. She was also early. The other young woman interviewing for the position before her seemed to have arrived either early or at least on time for her interview. However she wore a skirt and blouse and carried a purse, no resume in hand and no notebook in sight.
  2. Cassie felt a little nervous going in but she also knew she had done all she could do to prepare for her interview. She made sure she got the 2 interviewers names and used them occasionally during the interview (good for business).  When the interviewer asked her if she knew anything about the company Cassie was able to sing out “yes I looked you up on the internet,” saving the interviewer a fair amount of time explaining the organization to her. Later that evening she emailed the interviewers thanking them for their time. It was obvious Cassie had done her homework since she had a chance to show off her knowledge of the corporation during the interview.
  3. She followed up with a thank you email.

Apparently her research, business attire, additional copy of her resume, note-taking, and questioning along with her own personal and professional qualifications must have made an impression because within 2 weeks she was hired. She admits to feeling a little sorry for the other woman later.

“It’s crazy. I wanted the job but I felt bad when she was passed over for it. Does that make any sense?” Well yes it does because Cassie is a nice person but to be sure she would have felt worse if she didn’t get it, I’m quite convinced of that. Now that is the advice Cassie followed to get herself an interview and a job. Here is some additional advice Cassie didn’t follow or didn’t need to get herself the job:

  1. Network.  Cassie didn’t know a soul connected to this position.
  2. Forget about classified ads. Only 5% of people are hired this way. Cassie should run out and buy a lotto ticket then because apparently she is in that 5%.
  3. Make sure you are the last person interviewed because hiring managers remember the last interviewee. Cassie was 3rd on the list. There were more interviews to be held after lunch. She knows that for a fact because the interviewers let that one slip as they walked her out.
  4. Study while you wait. In other words look around the office walls for certificates the company has earned or check out their literature. There were no certificates posted on the walls and the only literature in sight was Chatelaine magazine, not exactly corporate reading material.
  5. Debrief. After the interview write down your thoughts and impressions, where you thought you could have improved and where you did especially well. Cassie debrief mentally but she didn’t write anything down. She turned it over enough times in her head that she already knew where she was a little weaker than she would like to have been but overall she had a very good interview.
  6. She asked a couple of questions up front before the interview got underway in order to glean information about the position. However she didn’t find the information especially helpful and she didn’t emphasize any of it during the rest of the interview. Interesting.
  7. Cassie studied 7 tough interview questions and memorized answers, preparing to frame her answers around the interview questions she asked at the start of the interview but those tough questions weren’t forthcoming. Not one. 

Let’s see now out of 15 pieces of job hunting/interviewing advice Cassie only found herself needing 4 (research the company, dress professionally, carry a copy of your resume in a briefcase and arrive early). Yet she landed the job. The one piece of advice that really staggers me is in regard to networking. Network is the primary word on everybody’s lips today when it comes to job hunting yet Cassie answered this ad and was hired within 2 weeks without knowing a soul. Who knew?

Sometimes you just have to take the plunge. Defy the odds where you have to, follow sensible advice when you can and hope for the best. In the end you might prove a lot of the HR gurus all wrong and land that dream job anyway Girlfriend.

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