In my twenty years of sales, I have hired and trained hundreds of salespeople. One woman who joined my team was Cathy. She was in her mid-50’s and had decades of experience in corporate America. She’d worked 16 years for a company when it abruptly shut its doors, so Cathy needed a job quickly. Cathy was a slow starter. She had a fantastic work ethic, and she read motivational books every night, but she still struggled in reaching her goals. We took her under our wing and trained and trained her to help her get over the hump. She was struggling financially and had wiped out her savings to stay afloat. After a year of watching her struggle with no improvement, my director and I decided to have a heart-to-heart talk with her and help her find a “real job.”
When I talked to Cathy, she said, “I know I need a corporate job, but there’s nothing out there. I’d been looking for a job for almost a year before I interviewed with you.”
I thought, “A sharp woman with more than 30 years of experience can’t get a job?” Immediately I knew why. She’d been going about it all the wrong way. She had been conducting her job search the way 95 percent of Americans do.
Cathy sent me her resume. I “cleaned it up” and coached her on exactly what to do. She followed my advice and got a salary plus commission job within a week! She’d wasted more than a year—her old way of looking for a job took her over a year with no results.
What is the key?
Four Important Steps To Getting Your Foot In the Door
Step 1: Know What You Want
Most people post their resumes online or tell a staffing firm they will work for any company, anywhere, that does anything. This becomes a JOB (Just Over Broke)—not a career. You’ll work there for the paycheck and then quit within a year to find the next best JOB.
The first step, as I explained to Cathy, was to make a target list of 25 companies she wanted to work for. I told her to think of companies that offered a product or service she was passionate about, companies known for stability, and relatively close to home. “But what if they aren’t hiring right now?” she asked.
“Doesn’t matter,” I said. “Contact them anyway.”
Step 2: The Resume
Nothing to put on your resume? No college degree? No significant work history? Guess what? I don’t have a college degree either. Yes, I am a college dropout. Guess who else is a college dropout? Three of the wealthiest and most successful entrepreneurs in the world: Bill Gates, Michael Dell and Steve Jobs. I’ve never been turned down for any job I applied. I’ve only had one interview where someone has even asked about my education. In my two years working for a staffing firm, I can count on one hand the number of employers who had specific requirements about a college degree.
Step 3: Who’s the Boss?
Every company has a generic email address to receive resumes. It’s usually firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. The problem with submitting your resume to these generic email addresses is that it puts your resume in the company’s inbox with 5,000 other applicants. Each company has a human resources person or recruiter who sifts through the generic email box and looks at resumes. Find out who that person is and send your resume directly to him or her. All you have to do is call the company and say, “Hi, my name is _______. How are you today? I have a quick question for you. Who’s in charge of hiring for your company for the ________ position? Great. What’s his/her email address? (confirm that you’ve spelled it correctly). Is there a second person who helps with the hiring as well? What is his/her email address? Great. Thank you so much for your help.”
Another great way to get information is to drop by the company in person. Simply tell the person at the front desk that you want to send something to the person in charge of the _____ position, and you need that person’s email address. Don’t say you’re sending a resume because you’ll probably get the crummy generic email address. Remember, always get a real person’s name and email address.
Step 4: Make It or Break It
This is the most critical step in landing your dream job. Unfortunately, it’s the step most people skip or simply don’t do. If you master this step, you will be leaps and bounds ahead of your competition. The most important step in landing an interview or job is following up!
Since the Internet has become so popular with the mega job placement websites like Monster.com and CareerBuilder.com, most people think the proper way to get a job is to post their resumes online (or into the company’s generic job email address) and then sit back and wait for the phone to ring. This is exactly what happened to Cathy. She said she spent an entire year posting and re-posting her resume on websites, but nobody called. She had herself “out there,” but never followed up.
When I worked at the staffing firm, we received so many resumes that we rarely called candidates unless they called us and followed up. When they called to follow up, we found their resumes in our inbox, and then we looked to see whether they were fits for any open positions. If they conducted themselves professionally on the phone, then we always brought them in for interviews. Once I coached Cathy on how to follow up properly, she landed a job within a few days. With the number of resumes floating in cyberspace and the level of competition out there, it is critical to be proactive in your job search.
You’re probably wondering, “How do I follow up? What should I say?”
Three days after you’ve emailed your resume, call the specific person you emailed it to and say, “Hi, this is _______. I am calling to follow up with you. I sent you my resume regarding the ______ position. I am an excellent candidate for that position, and I wanted to see which day this week I can meet you for an interview. Would Tuesday or Thursday work better for you?”
You must be assumptive and proactive. Assume they received your resume. Assume they love you. Assume they are anxious to get you in for an interview. If they say they haven’t reviewed your resume yet, then pleasantly and politely say, “No problem. Today is Wednesday. I will call you back on Friday. Will two days give you enough time to review my resume? (who can say “No” to that?) Great. Again my name is ____ ____. I will talk to you this time on Friday. Have a great day.”
Repeat this process over and over. Persistence pays off. Remember to be polite, even if the company gives you the run-around. Nobody will ever hire a person with a bad attitude.
The Interview – 7 key steps to nail your dream job
Have you interviewed for a job, but not been hired? Do you really, really know the keys to a fantastic interview? Your resume and follow-up phone call will get your foot in the door, but the interview is the key factor when it comes to deciding whether you will get hired or not. Here are “7 important do’s and don’ts” for interviews.
1. Research the company before the interview. If you are asked in the interview, “Why do you want to work for XYZ company?” but you know nothing about what it does, you will not get the job. It is much more powerful to say, “I love your product ______. I use it myself, so I would love to work for a company whose products I believe in. I also saw on your website that you donate profits to charity. I would love to work for a company that gives to the needy.”
2. Give a firm handshake, no matter whether you are a man or woman or whether you are shaking the hand of a man or woman. Studies show that a person has seven seconds to make a good first impression. This means your handshake can be a deal-breaker—or a deal-maker. If you are interviewing for a job that involves decision-making abilities, management skills or outstanding customer service, and you give the manager a “dead fish” handshake, then you won’t get the job. I know this because I have interviewed hundreds of people, and the candidates who carry themselves confidently always have a good, strong handshake. Do you know whether your handshake is appropriate? Practice on your friends, your spouse or co-workers. Shake men’s hands. Shake women’s hands. Get honest feedback. Tell them, “It’s important to me to have a solid, professional, confident handshake. I want to get honest feedback from people I know. Do you mind if I practice on you?” Usually the people you practice on will want to know how their handshakes stack up as well. This is a fun exercise. A fantastic handshake isn’t just essential for a job interview; it is essential in life.
3. Dress like a million bucks without spending a million bucks. The way you dress for a job interview is not the way you dress when going to happy hour with your friends. When I worked in staffing, more than half the women who came into our office for an interview looked like they were going to an interview at Hooters. Ladies, if you have certain assets to show off, a job interview is not the place to do it. Under no circumstance should you show cleavage in an interview—unless you are interviewing at a strip club. Wear pants or a long skirt, never a mini skirt. Cover your toes. No open-toed shoes. Women who interviewed with a professional suit, who didn’t show cleavage, and who wore nice shoes always got a job.
Think you can’t afford to spend a lot of money on an interview outfit? You don’t have to. Target, TJ Max, Ross Dress for Less and many other stores have a wonderful selection of business clothes at very affordable prices. Recently, I had a very important business meeting for FatNoggin. I was six weeks post-partum, and my regular clothes did not fit me so I had to buy a new outfit from head-to-toe. I didn’t want to spend a million bucks since my weight was not normal. I went to my local outlet mall and bought a brand new pair of slacks, beautiful blouse, shoes and even jewelry to match and the entire outfit cost me less than a hundred dollars. Remember, the person interviewing you is not going to check your brand names at the door.
Men, same rule goes for you. Always wear your best pair of slacks, a button-down shirt (ironed), clean shoes and a tie. The man in a tie always gets a job. Even if the job you are interviewing for does not require business attire, always wear business attire to an interview. Once you get the job, you can dress appropriately for the office.
4. Always be positive when you answer questions. If you’re asked, “Why did you leave your last job?” don’t say, “My boss was an idiot, my co-workers sucked, I didn’t get along with anyone in the office, etc…” You will not get hired.
When you are asked, “What are your weaknesses?” don’t say, “I have a hard time meeting deadlines and I don’t like authority.” Again, you will not get hired. Always turn negatives into positives.
When asked, “What are your weaknesses?” you might say, “I am an overachiever. I expect a lot of myself.” Always keep the conversation positive.
5. Don’t ask about money or salary in the first interview. You don’t want to over-sell or under-sell yourself. Most jobs have a “range” for the job. For example, an accounting position might have a range of $50,000—$65,000 starting salary. In the second interview when the pay range is discussed, you can plead your case as to why you should be paid at the higher end of the range. Companies want the best candidate for the least amount of money, so don’t sell yourself short by saying, “I am looking to earn at least $50,000,” or you will get the low end of the deal—because they might have paid you much more than that.
6. Send a hand-written thank-you card to the person who interviewed you. You can buy an inexpensive box of professional thank-you cards at Target, Wal-Mart or Office Depot. Simply say:
It was a pleasure meeting you and learning more about (company name). I know I am the perfect fit for the ______ position because _______. I look forward to talking to you again.
7. Follow up. Follow up. Follow up. People who are pleasantly persistent will beat the competition and win in the end.