Saturday, June 18, 2011

So what are some really practical tips to help with the job search?

If you've bought a copy of "Knock 'Em Dead", some of these pieces of advice will be obvious, but because I am hearing over and over again from a variety of sources that some folks just don't get it, I thought these simple tips and pointers would be relevant to helping you clean up your act and ensure prospective employers don't knock you out of the race for stupid reasons.

1.  Do a scrub of your "virtual footprint".  Practically everyone, even my mother, has left an imprint on the world through the internet.  The tracks may not run deep, but if you have a social networking account, post to blogs using your name, have written an review with your name, etc., you have left an imprint that can be found by someone who bothers to query it with a simple Google query.  If you've made, for example outlandish comments about a product or service from company X, and stuck your name to it, then company X's HR department could easily pull it up with some basic research.  How many companies do this?  Good question.  The point to this is that you might want to run your name through a few Google queries to see what pops up on the first five or six pages of hits.  If you have a silly, provocative, or otherwise arousing avatar, you would be smart to pull it down and replace it with something more conservative.  I'd also hold off on replying to any friend requests from possible strangers.  What better way to peer into how a future employee thinks and acts than to gain access to their Facebook page.  Even after you are hired, there's no need to tempt drama by maintain a high profile on any social networking site.  It's just asking for trouble.

2.  Refresh your personal greeting at your voicemail and make it professional and basic, and take that silly music off of it that plays instead of a basic ring tone.  Nobody wants to call you to let you know that they would like you to come in to do an interview, and listen to half of the silly crap that I hear most days.  And this includes the super-moto oohrah and hooah crap, or the notes of reveille .  You are an adult.  You should already be acting like it.

3.  Along the lines of ensuring your voicemail is a reflection of the desirable applicant you are trying to portray, you need to be ready to undergo the unexpected phone interview.  On more than one occasion when I was working through my own transition years ago, I received a phone call at an unexpected hour, from a company I had put a resume in with, and the call turned out to involve quite a few questions directed at the hiring process.  You need to treat every form of contact with company X as part of the interview process, so keep the HR reps and the companies they represent straight in your head.  You don't want the awkward and painful moment to occur like this: "Oh, absolutely Mr. Johnson, I can be there tomorrow for that interview downtown. Mmmm..what company do you represent again?"

4.  Clean out your car. heard me, clean out your car and keep it clean.  I've heard from more that one person responsible for hiring with their organization that they deliberately waited for a hiring prospect to arrive for an interview, and they sent a manager or such out to their car to wander by and take a look inside.  It's one of those first impressions things, and if your car looks like crap, you just might be missing out on a great opportunity.  There is no need to leave last week's lunch leftovers sitting on your passenger seat.

5.  Clean up your wardrobe.  This is another area where I am hearing from a number of people who are interviewing, that they are arriving at workplaces alongside other interviewees, and finding that not everyone is wearing a suit!!!  Look, if nothing else sticks with you from this list, invest in a decent, subtle, professional suit or two so that you absolutely have something ready to go when the time for interviews comes around.  Many places for menswear have a sales rep or two who know how to dress someone professionally.  Ask them for some pointers and take what they say into consideration with your own personal style.  More importantly, if you know you are going to submit an application with company X, there's nothing wrong with stopping by that company during either the morning rush hour or quitting time, to gain an appreciation for how the staff dress, professionally.  It's called reconnaissance, and shame on you if you don't do it.

6.  In the same vein as conducting reconnaissance on what the employees are wearing to work, you'd be smart to figure out how to get to that company X in the first place and drive the route during rush hour, so that when you get that oddly-timed request to come in for an interview, you can get to it on time.  And if you have not be a practitioner of it before, start following the rule that if you aren't ten minutes early, you are ten minutes late.

7.  In your dealings with civilians who are certainly not inside your chain of command, start practicing the use of their first name, or Mr./Mrs./Ms. and their last name.  You'd be surprised that there are a good number of people who think that you and I are fairly robotic because we refer to someone in a position of authority as "Sir" or "Ma'am".  It can really weird some people out, so start working now to break yourself of the practice.  Don't go overboard and expect that you can greet the CEO with a "Hey Bob," but try to cut out the military customs and courtesies until you get a better lay of the land.

8.  Maintain a fresh haircut and a clean set of fingernails.  It's simple, but something quite a few folks ignore, to their detriment.

9.  Don't let the stress of looking for a new job put you off of your fitness routine.  Your overall resiliency will depend on how well you manage to make time for a workout on a regular basis.  Don't put it off.

10. Learn some business etiquette.  Here are a few resources:

This one is a clutch video semniar: