Boomer or budgie – the waiting game can be maddening: waiting to hear if they have received your resumé; waiting to hear if they have read your resumé; waiting to see if they will call you for an interview; waiting to see if they will call you back after your first interview; waiting to learn if you will or will not be offered the job. With the paucity of jobs open and the glut of qualified applicants today, all of this could take months. Even worse, if there’s no job offer and if you have done nothing but twitch and bite your nails whilst waiting, you have wasted precious time.
The good news is that we do learn to be more patient as we grow older. The bad news is that we have less time to be patient as we grow older. Soooo, it’s time to take back some control: time to use those days, weeks, months to gear up for the next opportunity.
1. Eggs: Never, ever put them all in one basket! Pursue several opportunities simultaneously. What you learn from one will build upon what you need to know for another. The efficacy of the way in which you present yourself for one will inform your next “self” sales pitch.
2. Intelligence Gathering: Network, network, network and then network some more. Find someone who works where you want to work or who knows someone in that organization. Use your friends, family, paper rolodex and online networks. You need to get the inside scoop: what works; what needs to be fixed; what’s the strategic vision and what’s the organizational culture – collaborative or stressed, competitive or satisfied? This info is crucial for you to be able to communicate the ways in which you are a good fit and articulate the value added you bring to help the organization meet its goals.
3. Insights and Perspectives: Scour industry specific publications, niche business journals and online blogs and pipelines to determine what’s happening in that industry, who are the thought leaders? Form your own opinions and do not be afraid to articulate them. Innovative leaders are looking for new, actionable ideas. They are not seeking clones nor are they satisfied with the status quo. They want fresh, independent insights and perspectives to help achieve their vision.
Remember President Lincoln’s Cabinet? He deliberately appointed a contentious “Team of Rivals,” and that team became one of the most successful Cabinets in US History.
4. Compelling Story: Put your best foot forward. Metaphorically and realistically speaking – polish your boots. The competition is fierce and you need to be able to demonstrate you are the best of the best. Create a compelling story. Answers alone may be quickly forgotten but stories create an impact and are memorable. Focus on what you have to offer and why it will be of value – what’s in it for the organization. You know to compose your story with active verbs but do not forget the blockbuster nouns – key words – that capture you, your strengths and your industry savvy. If your key words’ vocabulary needs a boost, explore Google’s Key Word search tool.
5. Qualify and Quantify: Provide metrics to quantify your successes and specific examples to qualify your accomplishments. Create bullet points to remind you of each anecdote during the interview. If you have to flip through pages of notes, you defeat the purpose of the exercise; it will appear as forced documentation rather than spontaneous elaboration or sharing. You want to engage the interviewer so he or she is genuinely interested in what you have accomplished and how you have done it. Caveat Emptor: be brief. The best storytellers leave their audience eager to hear more.
6. Questions: Formulate questions to ask the interviewer, such as: what do you see as the most critical elements of this job; what are you looking for in a candidate; why is the current job holder leaving; how would you prioritize the organization’s top goals; when and why did you join the organization and what continues to interest you most? Listen carefully and then use the information you have researched on the organization and this field to follow-up on the interviewer’s answers. Don’t merely match questions tit for tat; create a dialogue. You are interested in this position and are not just desperate for any job.
7. Continually Update Your Resume: Note everything you are learning as you move forward. For example, if you’re becoming more fluent in social networking, provide some data to let the interviewer know you understand what differentiates each of these online tools, how to use each to your best advantage and how you would use them to the organization’s advantage.
8. Current Events: Keep on top of what’s happening economically. Understand how the ways in which you want to work and the organizations with which you’d like to work relate to and affect what’s going on in the context of the community, state and global economy.
9. Beyond the Economy: Relate current political, cultural and social events to the broader context of history and literature. Check out “deep thinking on the web.” Nothing is happening now that has not happened before. Technology may change. Human nature does not. Competition in the workplace? Remember how Julius Caesar was stabbed by his fellow Senators in the Roman Forum? Are today’s hallowed halls of the US Congress equally welcoming to our leaders?
10. Relax: Enjoy this opportunity to learn more about yourself. If you value yourself, others will too.