Most job seekers have been there… a so-so position that you’re not quite sure you even want, and when applying for it, your unenthusiastic attitude shows. But what about the to-die-for opening that you’d do anything to land?
FlexJobs collected advice from several experts for tips on how NOT to be a lazy job seeker… and even some tips on not seeming desperate when you really want the job.
Nabbing the Interview
Let’s start at the beginning. You find the listing, you must apply! Unfortunately, you are likely one out of 200+ who will apply within the first hour of the job being posted! So, just how do you stand out?
“I recommended an idea to someone who actually landed a job as a Financial Analyst at a well known financial services firm without any financial analysis work experience,“ shared Abby Kohut, author of Absolutely Abby’s 101 Job Search Secrets. “He sent an egg timer from a Boggle game with a resume and a note that said, ‘If you give me this much time, I’ll prove to you why I am the best Financial Analyst you’ll ever have.’ He got the interview and then got the job.”
Job applications are like books that employers judge by their covers, so make your cover letter and resume super-intriguing and be sure to do your homework.
“The highly motivated person learns more about the position before they even decide to apply,” instructed Terri A. Deems, PhD of Deems Associates/WorkLife Design. “Then, tailor the resume and cover letter to that position, based on what was learned.”
Deems went on to point out the difference between expressing your interest and, well, seeming disinterested.
“The unmotivated person just slaps something together just like they’ve done with any number of other positions and sends it off. The motivated person takes their time, plans their strategy, and creates just the materials the decision-makers need to see. The materials must be letter-perfect – there’s no room for errors here – another sign of being motivated – a job getter cares enough to proofread and spell check!”
Prepping for the Interview
Getting to this stage is half the battle, so congratulations if you have set yourself apart from the crowd! However, there’s still a battle to be won, so be sure to keep on with your strategy.
“The best way to show a potential employer that you are excited about a position is to have done in-depth research on the company,” Bruce Hurwitz of Hurwitz Strategic Staffing, Ltd. shared. “People who want a job study the company website. People who want a career at a company go much deeper than that. They’ll find press releases, research key employees, etc. and work the results of that research into the interview.”
How exactly will going the extra mile help you out? Hurwitz continued, “At the end of the day, when all the persons who have interviewed a candidate get together to discuss her, you want them to say, ‘How in the world did she find out that I played on the college hockey team?’ You do not want them to say, ‘She knows our website…’ Going the extra mile shows enthusiasm.”
Clearly, doing some homework is key.
“In fact, set up a Google alert for their company name to stay on top of the latest,” shared Rivka Kawano, of LifeTrainLLC.com. “If you have been to an interview, take notes and look for clues as to what their needs and decisions are right now.”
Similarly, get a little social.
“Follow the company on Twitter and Facebook if they’re active on those platforms,” Rod Hughes of Oxford Communications recommended. “Be prepared to reference a recent posting during the interview.”
Landing the Job
It’s crunch time! You didn’t get this far to walk away empty handed, so now is your chance to seal the deal.
“The best way a job seeker can show they are really motivated is to communicate and/or illustrate they have a plan for the area the position is most needy in,” said Tom Gimbel, CEO, LaSalle Network. “For example, you’re an accounting manager and you learn that collections are way behind (over 60/90 days). You lay out in writing a plan on how you would reduce the number of days for outstanding invoices. If you’re interviewing for a marketing role and you learn the biggest area of frustration for the CEO is internal communication, you should create a PowerPoint deck showing how you would attack the problem.”
Or get even more creative with your approach.
“I had a college student who applied for a marketing position (along with 100 other candidates) and told the hiring manager she would work free for two weeks to show what she could do,” shared Barry Cohen, University Employment Coordinator of The City University of New York. “How could a company resist free labor? At the end of the first week, they offered her the position.”
Sure, you may prefer a paycheck, but enthusiasm is key nonetheless.
“Even if the job hunt has you worn out, don’t let that show up in your interaction with gatekeepers and decision makers in the hiring process,” said Tiffani Murray of Personality on Page. “Your energy or the outward display of your energy is used to perceive your level of motivation.”
Of course, accepting a job is a big commitment, so make sure it’s one you want to keep.
“There is a limit to how much you can fake being motivated,” advises Hugh Taylor, author of The Life Reset: Overcoming Setbacks in Work and Life. “Faking will get you pretty far, but you will never appear as motivated to do a job as an applicant who truly loves the work.”
And if it will be work you will enjoy, be sure to let them know.
“Get a targeted thank you letter off to each person who interviewed you,” Sharon Armstrong, author of The Essential Performance Review Handbook said. “Mention something that was discussed during the interview so the interviewer knows YOU were there and listening. Again, mention that you want the job if you do. And get that note or email to them very quickly.”
Don’t go Psycho
Sure, we’ve gone over enthusiasm, but we should also probably discuss getting a little TOO enthusiastic.
“Calling (or emailing) over and over with the same, ‘Have you picked me yet?’ type of questions can help communicate that you are motivated – or just desperate and with nothing better to do,” added Kawano.
Mistakes to Avoid
In order to start earning income, you will need to prove your capabilities to do the job, so keep that as your focus.
“If you ask about the salary and benefits too soon, it looks as though you are more interested in the money than in the job,” said Mary Greenwood, Author of How to Interview Like a Pro. “Let them think it is not about the money, but what you can do for company. Postpone the money talk as long as you can. If they want you, then the money will follow.”
What you Definitely do NOT Want to do
Across the board, career experts agree that job seekers should do their research, demonstrate how their strengths will help an employer with the bottom line and their enthusiasm for the position. With that in mind, make sure to keep all of that in check as well.
“Sometimes job seekers go over the top when trying to show how motivated they are, how much they want the position,” said Barry Maher of Barry Maher & Associates. “One job seeker I met had heard about an opening for a marketing and PR person at a local charity and decided to demonstrate his expertise at grabbing people’s attention.”
“He went to the charity’s website and found the names and business contact info for everyone on their board, the people he figured would be making the final decision on the hiring. Then, cutting out letters from a newspaper, he sent each board member a series of letters. The first had just his first name ‘John.’ The second read ‘John Smith.’ Then ‘John Smith Is,’ and so on until the message read ‘John Smith Is Going to Blow.’
“Then apparently thinking he was clever enough to avoid creating a problem message, the next letter added two words rather than one. It read: ‘John Smith Is Going to Blow You Away!’ That’s when the police showed up at his door…. Before he had the chance to send out the next letter with his resume that explained just how his expertise was in fact going to blow everyone away.”
So, remember, a little enthusiasm can go a long way. Too much enthusiasm can put you away…. Good luck with your search! – Originally posted on FlexJobs by Chelsea Gladden