It doesn't matter if you just finished school, have an MBA, or are an experienced professional, the idea of applying for jobs or internships can be paralyzing. How do you find a company, how do you land an interview, when you do land an interview what should you do, and after receiving an offer how do you negotiate a salary?
These questions are so important because our work is a large part of our life and we should be fulfilled with work. Having a fulfilling job increases our happiness and helps businesses become more successful which adds overall value to the world.
What follows is the beginning of a three-part series on the interview process. Standard techniques like showing up early, dressing nice, and being courteous are important. Yet, you can read those tips anywhere. Our goal is to dive deeper into the interview process for you to land that dream job or internship.
Deciding if I Want the Interview
Here is a huge idea most people never think about. I have a trusted business coach who shook my idea of work over coffee. She looked at me and said,
“you choose your career, do not accept any offer.”
Some of the most powerful ideas are simple in theory yet difficult to execute, she is 100% correct. We should not accept a job offer, instead, we need to choose our career.
The obvious question becomes: how do we know what career to choose?
Finding that answer is key before you decide to interview with a company. I always fall back to Jim Collins’ advice and add a little extra touch to determine where someone should work. Ask yourself:
- What are you passionate about?
- What can you be paid to do?
- What can you be world class at?
- Where do you want to live in 3-5 years?
Many people can’t answer those questions . . . how do you even know where to apply unless you can answer those questions? Your career should be a unique blend of your passions, what pays, a job that you can do with excellence (over time), and match where you want to live.
Do not even begin to apply for jobs until you can honestly answer those questions, if you would like more detail on answering those questions click here for a free guide on determining your professional purpose.
After you answered those, then it is time to narrow your search of jobs to companies that fit your criteria. It is fascinating to see people realize there are really only a few places they want to work. Having a clear purpose focuses your attention toward your ideal career which makes it easier to set your attention on a specific industry or even a single company where you know you should be working.
Also, think about it from the company's’ perspective. There is a company waiting for you as your personality, technical skills, and talent match exactly what they need. They want you there just as much as it will fulfill you to work with them.
Companies succeed when they get “the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats.” ~ Jim Collins
Only with the clarity of your purpose will you know if you want to interview with a company to become the correct person for the bus.
I just want a job! I need money to pay the bills.
This is the thought that comes to mind for most people when thinking about jobs and interviews. And it is perfectly normal because it’s the first level in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. We need food and shelter.
But it is also very important to understand that it is also easily achievable, especially if you are in a graduate program like an MBA. You almost have a 100% probability of landing a job that will allow you to cover your basic needs. Which is why you have to start thinking and planning for the long run. How will your job add value to your needs of love/belonging, esteem, and ultimately self-actualization?
There is no easy or simple answer to that question, and it will be very different for each of us. And probably with time, the answer will change. But keep in mind that each decision you take, related to your career, must be inclined to some degree to giving an answer to that question.
A great first step, to achieve self-actualization, is understanding you. It sounds silly, self-awareness is something that most people take for granted. What is important for you? Don’t answer with what you think should be important, or what you think would be socially acceptable to choose as important. This guide can help you find and identify your professional purpose.
Make a list of all the things you value:
- Personal Development
Then pick the top 5. Picking a top 5 doesn’t mean that you don’t value the rest. We all probably give value to most of the things mentioned in the previous list, but having priorities means understanding what will you pick if you could only pick between A or B in a certain situation.
Once you know what you value, then you just have to line that with companies that give value to the same things.
How Many Companies Should you Apply to?
I will be short in my answer. The question is dependent on your purpose.
Think about it logically.
If you know that you want to work for a single company, well then you network your way into that one company! Yet, if you are looking more at an industry, then you will apply to more companies. The most important aspect is to know your professional purpose. When you know your purpose, the number of companies to apply to becomes clear.
Too few and you won’t have lots of options, which may put you in a weak position to negotiate. Too many may not be efficient and you don’t want to waste the company’s time or yours.
As with most things, there is a balance that you have to achieve. It is also very important that you are prepared to perform at your best at the interview of your dream job. And the only way to do so is to have experience, which is why you should do mock interviews and participate in more than one real interview process.
You also have to consider that maybe the companies you like may not have an open position at the moment, in the area that you want to work. Which is why you should have a top 5 or top 10 of the companies you want to work for and have a clear understanding of the current openings they have.
Remember that companies are not just interviewing you for the position, they have several options. Which is why it is perfectly fine for you to apply to different companies within the industry and position that you would like to build a career at.
How to Get the Interview?
Once you know where to apply you will be excited as you found what to do with your career! Now what? How do you get in at where you want to work?
The answer once again is simple in theory yet difficult to execute . . . network your way to the job. We recommend networking, not only does it set you apart from the pack but simply put, it works. Look at the data.
- An ABC News report stated 80% of jobs are landed from networking
- A more recent LinkedIn report put that number up to 85%
Then there is one of my favorite quotes:
“at least 70%, if not 80% of jobs are not published, yet most people are spending 70% or 80% of their time surfing the net versus getting out there, talking to employers.” ~ Matt Youngquist, President of Career Horizons
It should be clear for your dream job that matches your purpose, you must network! For step-by-step articles on how to network, see our blogs detailing the networking process.
Networking is time-consuming, but so is applying blindly to jobs online. Imagine a scenario where you apply to 10 jobs online. You feel accomplished because you were “productive.” In reality, you are one of the hundreds if not thousands in a sea of resumes.
Now imagine another scenario.
You identify the company where you want to work. You go to LinkedIn and see if you have any 1st/2nd connections or you go to the alumni search tab to see who works at your dream job. You find someone and set up an informational interview. You go on the informational interview, make a connection, and now have a champion on the inside who will vouch for you. Then you apply when they tip you off to a job opening.
It really is that simple in terms of steps, yet it is time-consuming.
The question you must ask yourself: is your life worth taking the time to find your dream job?
Matt just said everything I wanted to say, so I would recommend that you follow his advice (the next article I will work on writing my answers first, be prepared, Matt).
Take the time to do the informational interviews and network. It is an investment in yourself because by doing so you will be training a skill that will prove to be very valuable to everything you do in your life.
Use your career center, for Bauer students that would be Rockwell Career Center. They can help you connect with alumni and professionals that currently work in the companies that you are interested in, that way you won’t have to make a cold call or write a cold email.
You must make the choice to discover your purpose and talents. Find the companies that align with those, which will allow you to perform at your best. Then take the time to network with professionals in those companies.
These are the first steps you should take to put yourself in the best position to find your dream job.
We are excited to announce that we will have an amazing guest for our next article. Ramon Santillan, an interview consultant and founder of Persuasive Interview, will be joining to share his experience and knowledge to help you be more charismatic, boost confidence, and teach you how to promote yourself the right way during interviews.
He has been quoted by U.S. News & World Report, CBS, Yahoo!, and many others as an interviewing expert.