GET THE SALARY YOU WANT
So you're scanning the ads looking for that perfect job when all of a sudden, you see a job that's perfect for you. You read the details of the position thinking. yes. Yes. YES! Now the challenge is — how do you convince the employer you are who they are looking for?
Below are seven steps to help you land the job. According to Jennifer James, co-author of our book Dream Careers, you should take steps 1 to 5 when you apply for a job. Take steps 6 and 7 when you're called for an interview.
1. Learn about the company
Start at the employer's website, and take note of the company's mission statement. Read the background of their leaders and current staffers, which can give you insight into what they desire in an employee. Some job-seekers also hang out with a coffee near the office or business, and observe current employees to get a sense of the company ambiance.
2. Prepare your materials
Expect to assemble items such as a resume, cover letter, samples of your work, letters of recommendation, and names of references. You can find resources to help you prepare your materials at www.FabJob.com/resumes.html. This may be a good time to call your references and make sure they are still at the same number, and are still willing to say positive things about you — if your reference says, "who?" when the employer calls or if the number is disconnected, that doesn't make you look good.
3. Get contact information
This may be provided in the ad itself, but in some cases employers will not print contact names. If you can dig up this information on your own, you showcase your ability to go one step beyond the competition. Try the company's website or do a Google search of the company to see if you can find names and email addresses of the people to submit your resume to. At best you'll dig up pertinent information about the company that you can use in your application.
4. Submit your materials
Sometimes the ad will specify a preference for submitting these in person, fax, or email, and sometimes you'll have a choice. If it's possible, in person is the best option. You get to see the place and people, and they get to put a face to your name and credentials. You can ask to see the decision-maker, but be aware that this can backfire if they are busy — you become not just an applicant, but the rude applicant who interrupted their lunch.
5. Follow up on your application
If you have not been called for an interview by the deadline specified, it is okay to call or email and ask if the applicants have been selected. Your follow-through may even be the element that bumps you to the "yes" pile. When you follow up, don't demand that they review your resume on the spot, or ask for detailed reasons why you haven't been called yet. Simply inquire politely if the selection process is complete.
6. Prepare for the interview
Asking questions like "So, what does this company do?" will not impress an interviewer. In a national survey conducted for the staffing agency Accountemps, 47 percent of executives polled said that having little or no knowledge of the company is the most common mistake job seekers make during interviews.
Max Messmer, chairman of Accountemps, says "The most successful applicants will have a beyond-the-basics understanding of the firm, including its history, chief competitors and business objectives. Armed with this knowledge, job hopefuls should be able to describe how their skills and experience can help the business reach its goals."
To find information you'll probably need to do additional research beyond visiting the company's website. In addition to doing a Google search for information about the company and industry, try checking with people in your network and review the company's annual report if possible.
7. Follow-up after the interview
Always follow up with a thank you letter to everyone who interviewed you. A survey of 650 hiring managers by CareerBuilder.com found that nearly 15 percent of hiring managers say they would not hire someone who failed to send a thank-you letter after the interview, while 32 percent say they would still consider the candidate, but would think less of him or her.
Send a thank you email within one day of your interview. If you really want to stand out, follow-up the email with a hard copy, either hand-written or typed. Rosemary Haefner, Vice President of Human Resources at CareerBuilder recommends that your letter have three paragraphs.
"In the first paragraph, thank the interviewer for the opportunity. Use the second to sell yourself by reminding the hiring manager of your qualifications. In the third paragraph, reiterate your interest in the position."
By taking these seven steps and going the extra mile, you just might land your dream job!
Sisters Tag and Catherine Goulet are the Dream Career Experts. In 1999 they founded FabJob.com, a publisher of guides on how to break into a dream career, which has been visited by 50 million people. They have been featured giving career advice in media from ABC to Oprah.com and Woman's Day to the Wall Street Journal online, and their career advice appears frequently on the career pages at MSN.com and AOL.com. They are authors of the book Dream Careers: How to Quickly Break into a Fab Job! Visit FabJob.com to discover how to break into a dream career.
FabJob.com is featured in Woman's World Magazine ("Land Your Dream Job" article, April 2007).
FabJob Guides have been featured in stories at The Wall Street Journal and Entrepreneur Magazine sites.