Chasing a dream doesn’t have to be a race with no finish line. But opportunity is only part of the equation when it comes to accomplishing goals. Are you doing all you could be to not only get an interview for that dream job, but to turn that interview into a job offer?
New York Times bestseller Martin Yate, author of "Knock Em Dead: The Ultimate Job Search Guide," knows a thing or two about making career dreams a reality:
“You have to think of yourself as a commodity,” he explains. “And the recruiter or interviewer is the customer. Find out what the customer wants and sell it to them.”
And that’s not the only nugget of wisdom he shares. Here are 11 steps to getting the job you've always wanted.
Sharpen your skill set
You’ve got to be better than the guys. Yes, ladies, it's a rat race out there, and we have to make sure we carve out our place. Yate explains:
In general, you don't know anything about career management. You are told to get a degree, make sacrifices and you will be fine. That doesn’t work today. You have to be better than the guys. You have to upgrade your skills.
Begin with your state-of-mind; know the job is yours, know you are the best candidate for the job, and prove it.
Become an expert
Develop mastery in your chosen profession. This will guarantee that new opportunities will always come your way throughout your career. Be proactive when it comes to your career advancement and education. Research your own job title every six months or so — if you see skills on job descriptions that you don’t have, learn them. Successful companies hire good people who are willing to learn and want to keep learning.
Revamp your resume
We've all heard the saying "the customer is always right." Why don’t we apply this to resume building? "Generally your resume is all about what ‘I want,’ and that is wrong," Yate states.
Your resume goes into a database, some with half a billion resumes... You have to create a resume that will pull up in the top 20 or 30 in order for it to be seen. If you aren’t getting calls, you have a problem with your resume.
Yate suggests creating a resume that is data dense on the first page (so it pulls up immediately), and tells your story on the others. Yes, it can be more than one page long.
"No recruiter has ever said, ‘Oh, no, they went to a third page! We can’t interview them."
Network — a lot
A job search is all about getting into communication with the people who can hire you as quickly and frequently as possible.
No one gets hired without being in conversation with the people who can actually hire you. That is more than posting resumes.
Yate suggests connecting with professional associations related to your career. Start integrating work-related activities into your routine. Your presence at events and meetings will be an obvious sign of your dedication to your career, and will serve as a doorway to accessing more opportunities. Most importantly, don’t limit networking to new connections — network with the people you already know as well.
Apply for jobs that aren't posted
In addition to advertised positions, you should reach out directly to companies and contacts and tell them how you can help. Sometimes when a company is having a growth spurt, they may not even know they need you until they know how valuable you could be.
Don’t cast your net too wide
Don't be subjective; be objective. Yate calls this process "Target Job Deconstruction" (TJD):
Collect six jobs listings for the job you are after, pull them apart, and see what every one has in common. Make a priority list for how they describe this job.
Use that information to craft your resume in this direction.
"These details become the template for the story your resume needs to tell," he says.
Create a Linkedin profile
You may already have one, but are you using it to your advantage? "Linkedin is more than just a way to share your resume, it’s a way to network," says Yate.
Join groups that are specific to your profession, and connect with people who are one, two, and three levels above of you; they are the ones who can hire you. Be active in groups, but don't be a troll. Create conversations, even if they're just quick posts recommending an article for your peers to peruse. It shows you are reliable, connected, and proactive about advancing your network.
Separate your personal life from your professional life
Divide your desktop into two sections: Work and play. “Create a professional email address for networking and submitting resumes," writes Yate. "Similarly, your personal social media profiles should be private and closed off from your professional life."
Social media is tool in your search; use it to your advantage, rather than let it work against you. Create social media accounts that are work-related to share your work and keep it limited to that.
Hone your interview skills
Go in with one goal, and one goal only: Getting a job offer. Research the company, research the interviewers, and research the job. Really understand what the role you are going for is and what the company is looking for.
Be able to showcase your skills, and act interested in the position. Ask strategic questions about the heart of the job, specific duties and challenges, and identify yourself as a problem solver; create a dialog with the recruiter. Another great interview tip from Yate:
Never bring up money [in the interview]. If you do, it shows that all you are interested in is what the job can do for you, not what you can do for the job/company.
Practice contrarian thinking
Do the things that other candidates aren’t doing. One biggie for a job hunt? Sending a resume by traditional mail.
"No one gets mail anymore," says Yate. "When we get mail we stop what we are doing and we read it. It’s exciting. And a way to be remembered."
Don’t quit your day job until you land your dream one!
Yes, even if you hate it. Once you make the decision to quit your job, you're more likely to actually check out at work. Yate explains:
Dogs can smell fear. Your manager will be able to tell that you are acting unusual, even if you don't think you are. Once you decide to quit, you have to consciously recommit to your job because you will be doing work that will be useful in interviews.
And you never know if you will need a contact from your present job in the future. Build bridges, don't burn them.