Landing Your Dream Job in a Networked World

Last week, I talked about hiring tips in a networked world from the perspective of the company doing the hiring, so now I wanted to give some tips to those of you looking to get hired. We no longer live in a world where you’re likely to land a dream job with just a snazzy resume followed by a great interview. This is especially true for those of us who work in fields where we are expected to be technologically savvy and able to collaborate with others. Rather than taking you on your word, employers now want hard evidence that you know your stuff and can deliver great results. Competition for the best jobs is fierce, and if your evidence isn’t as solid as the other potential candidates, you’ll be out of luck.

Here are a few tips to help you land that dream job.

  1. Proofread everything. From the earliest days of mailed-in resumes, this has always been good advice. However, despite the availability of spell checking tools, I still see resumes and emails from job seekers with typos. I’ve seen otherwise great candidates not make it past the first cut due to an unfortunate mistake. Take your time, and recruit a friend to proofread your submissions.
  2. Get recommendations. Your best chance of getting a job with a company is to get a recommendation from another employee. Talk to your friends and past coworkers who have jobs at companies where you want to work. Even if they don’t have a job posted that you are interested in, you might get an inside lead on a job about to open. If you know the job you want and the company, see if you can find a current employee who can put in a good word for you.
  3. Network. The best time to network is when you aren’t looking for a job, since it takes some of the pressure off. If you are looking for work, the easiest way to start networking is by finding some local meetups in your town that are attended by other people in your industry. Spend the time getting to know people and learning about companies where you might want to work. After you establish yourself and take the time to get to know people, then you can mention the job search, but don’t be slimy about it, and don’t be that person who only calls people when they need a job.
  4. Refresh your LinkedIn profile. This is true even if you don’t use LinkedIn very often or don’t care about LinkedIn. At some point during the hiring process, it’s likely that someone will search for you on LinkedIn, and you want them to find an up-to-date, professional profile.
  5. Have a web presence. With the tools that allow anyone to spin up a blog in a few minutes, there is no reason not to have some kind of web presence. At a minimum, put up an about page that has a short bio, link to your resume, portfolio content and links to anything else you want a prospective employer to read about you.
  6. Blog regularly. Ideally, you would have a significant number of blog posts demonstrating expertise in your field when a prospective employer visits your blog. If you don’t already have a blog, I really do recommend it for anyone looking for a job. Blogging is one of the easiest ways to demonstrate your expertise to prospective employers. Having recent blog posts shows that you are interested and passionate enough about your field to go above and beyond the typical job seeker.
  7. Search for yourself. Pick your favorite three major search engines and search for variations of your name or any online handles you use to see what a prospective employer might find out about you. Knowing what an employer might find will help you proactively address any questions they might have. If you have a web presence and you aren’t coming up very high in the search, you might want to brush up on a little search engine optimization to see if you can improve your ranking (but don’t resort to any tricks).
  8. Do your research. Before going into that first interview, learn everything you can about the company, the job, the manager and anyone on the interview team. They won’t expect you to know everything, but they will expect you to be prepared and already know the basics. I try to include a couple of questions about the job and about me just to get a feel for whether they took the time to do their research. With almost everything online, doing your research has never been easier, but neglecting this simple task can get you eliminated.
  9. Have answers to standard interview questions. This is another one of those pieces of advice that hasn’t changed over the years. There are plenty of lists of standard interview questions online, and they include things like top strengths, top weaknesses, why you want this job, what attracts you to this company, etc. If you have ready answers for some of these standard questions, you’ll be in much better shape when they throw you a really hard question.
  10. Be professional. In all of your communications with prospective employers, you want to be professional. Ditch the unprofessional email addresses, swirly fonts and emoticons. Think about it … would you hire someone using “sexydude” or “hotmama” as an email address, or someone who emails you in purple comic sans? Ideally, your email address should include your name and your email should be in a standard, boring black font. Don’t forget to dress appropriately for that interview, but keep in mind that appropriate means different things depending on the company. While a suit might be expected on Wall Street, it might be less apporopriate for an interview at a local technology startup.

What are your tips for job seekers?

Photo by Flickr user Seabamirum used under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

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