Don’t be a fucking wimp. Don’t settle for a job just to pay the bills. Whether you have your high school diploma or a Masters Degree, there’s no reason you shouldn’t get paid for doing something you love.
I have a lot of friends who know a lot about hiring, so I asked them for their best advice. This is a guide that I wrote to help you identify, find, and secure your dream job. Whatever that might be.
Figure Your Shit Out
Chances are someone has told you that to determine your dream job, simply decide how you would spend your days if you had a million dollars, and then find a way to get paid while doing it.
Sounds like BS, but that’s actually a good place to start. You spend a minimum of 40 hours a week at work so you better enjoy what you do. No matter what your interests are, there is a career out there for you. Example: If you enjoy spending your day on Facebook and Twitter, perhaps you could be a social media marketer.
Once you decide what you want to do, make sure it lines up with your education and experience. If you didn’t go to law school, you’ll have trouble becoming a lawyer. There will always be limitations you need to consider, and if you can’t accept them, you need head back to the world of academia and pay your dues.
Next, you’ll want to make sure your career will give you the lifestyle you’re looking for. Do you want to stare at a computer monitor all day? Are you okay with travelling a couple times a month? Can you handle 8 hours a day of physical labour? These are all important questions that you need to consider before leaping into a career.
How to Find Your Dream Job
You don’t want to take the shotgun approach by applying to every position that interests you. Make a small list of the top places you want to work. Don’t worry too much if they’re not all hiring. It’s a little known fact that every company has a little black book of people they’d like to fire.
Once you have your list, it’s time to get to work. The key to your success in this phase is hard work. Remember, you’re never actually unemployed, or at least you shouldn’t be. If you don’t have a full-time job you should be spending an equivalent amount of time working on getting a job.
Meet my friend Matt Brown, a Canadian business consultant.
“Start with the personal connections you’ve already built. A vast number of jobs are filled before they’re ever advertised in a public domain. Let everyone in your circle know that you’re looking, because as one person you’re only seeing a fraction of the market, but if you have an army helping, you’ll see more action and fast-track your way onto a shortlist of candidates.”
It’s also important to attend industry events to meet people in your future field of work. “Go to websites like Eventbrite, Meetup, and Lanyrd to find upcoming events and start filling your calendar. Attending events is a great way to find out what companies are looking for, and it gives you an opportunity to sell yourself in person, which leaves a much stronger impression than sending a resume,” says Matt.
Last but not least, you’ll want to check listings on sites like LinkedIn, Monster, JobServe, and Career Builder. Job boards and online listing sites often let you sign up for email notification when an opening meets your criteria.
Clean Up Your Facebook
Employers these days are doing their homework on you. Those pictures from keg party may bring back good memories, but they could cost you in the long run. Untag yourself from incriminating photos on Facebook, delete the really bad ones, and put your security settings on high. Same goes for all the other social sites: Twitter, YouTube, even personal blogs.
Write a Cover Letter
Longwinded cover letters that accompany your resume are a thing of the past. Today, resumes are often sent via email and there’s no need to attach your cover letter as a separate document. Your cover letter should be the body of the email, it should be short, and it should be simple.
The goal is to perk your potential employers interest enough to read your resume. It’s okay to show a bit of your personality, so don’t start off by saying “To whom it may concern.” Nobody says the word “whom” anymore, so that’s not the kind of personality you want to be showing.
Bullet-Proof Your Resume
A lot of people don’t know the purpose of a resume. A resume isn’t supposed to land you a job; it’s supposed to get you an interview. Knowing that, here are five tips to help you write a resume worth submitting:
- Match the Needs of the Company: Read the job description closely and tailor your skills to match their requirements. Look for keywords they use, and use them yourself… speak in their language.
- Get to the Point: Most resumes are reviewed in 10-20 seconds, so put your strongest points near the top. Also, use bullet points when possible because nobody has the time to read long paragraphs.
- Avoid “Ya, No Kidding” Info: Don’t say “available for interview” or “references available upon request” – if they’re reading your resume it’s obvious you’re available for an interview and you can give references.
- Quantify Success with Numbers: Employers are impressed with data so describe your past professional achievements with numbers. You didn’t simply increase sales, you increased sales by $48,000 in the first two quarters by strategically securing three new clients.
- Don’t List all Your Past Jobs: If it’s not somehow related to the position you’re applying for, leave it out. Nobody needs to know you spent a summer flipping hamburgers when you were a teenager.
Submit Your Resume
After putting all that effort into writing a killer resume, you need to make sure you don’t undercut yourself by submitting it incorrectly. Here are some important things to remember:
- Follow the Rules: Employers often give little rules like, “Write the position title in the subject line of the email.” They do this as a test, and if you fail to follow those simple rules, it’s unlikely you’ll move on to the next stage.
- Address the Hiring Manager: It’s okay to use the generic email address included in the job posting, but do some investigative work and find out who the hiring manager is and CC them on the application.
- Keep it Simple: Avoid any temptation to get fancy with fonts. Play it safe and stick to Arial or Times New Roman. Keep the size between 10 and 12 point, and since you don’t know if they use a PC or a Mac, it’s best to convert your resume to a PDF file.
8 Performance Tips for an Interview
No matter how much education you have, or how perfect your resume is, you’re not getting the job if you screw up the interview. I want to introduce you to my friend and colleague Doug Tetzner:
Doug is the head of talent acquisition at Shopify. Doug receives thousands and thousands and thousands of resumes a year. I asked Doug to give me his 8 best tips to help you give your best performance in a job interview.
- Know the company inside and out. Check out their website and read every press release they’ve sent out. The more you know about the company, the better.
- Research who you will be interviewing with. Hunt them down on LinkedIn, read their online bio, and even check their Twitter to gain some insight into their background.
- Get there 5 minutes early. If you show up any earlier it can be awkward, and if you show up late you better have a very good excuse.
- Your mental state going into the interview should be that you don’t need the job. Act like you will consider it among your options. You can’t come across as desperate.
- The interview process works both ways, so you should be evaluating if it’s the right opportunity for you by asking intelligent questions.
- Be yourself. Good interviewers will know when you’re faking it. Inexperienced interviewers will pick up on it but won’t know exactly why they don’t like you.
- It’s a conversation. You’re going to have a conversation and nothing more.
- Don’t talk money during the first interview unless they bring it up. It’s like a first date – don’t rush into the sex.
Prepare for Common Interview Questions
There’s a short list of questions interviewers are quite likely going to ask you. I asked my friend Niki Kerimova, a communications specialist at PR Post in Toronto, what questions you’ll likely come up against. Meet Niki:
“Once you’ve gotten to the interview, you most likely have the skills and experience they’re looking for. The questions they’ll ask you are to see how your thought process works. At this part of the game, your personality and confidence are what will really determine how well you do.”
To boost your confidence, practice answering these common interview questions:
- What’s your greatest strength?
- Why do you want to work at this company?
- What motivates you to do a good job?
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
One question that often takes people by surprise is, “What is your greatest weakness?” This is a double-edged sword, and Kerimova warns to take extra precaution while forging an answer. “If you’re completely honest, for example you admit that you’re a procrastinator, you might be shooting yourself in the foot. If you say you don’t have a weakness, you’re obviously lying. It’s best to give a small work-related flaw that you’re working hard to improve. Also, don’t say that perfectionism is your greatest flaw. Everyone knows that’s not true.”
Dress to Impress
Most employers will judge a book by its cover, so you better dress smart. Find out what the company’s dress policy is and reflect that in your appearance. “If it’s a casual office, go ahead and skip the suit and tie – but don’t go too casual, nice jeans and a dress shirt will be a safe bet,” suggests Kerimova.
Grooming is equally important. “Make sure your grooming is impeccable. Get a clean haircut, make sure you have fresh breath, and don’t wear cologne – you never know who could be allergic and it’s better not to risk it.”
How to Negotiate a Starting Salary
Like it or not, the ultimate purpose of a career is to earn a paycheck – it’s not volunteer work. When you finally land your dream job, most people are uncomfortable negotiating a starting salary. Stephen Mitchell, Account Executive at TEKsystems, an international IT Consulting Firm, says, “You need to remove emotion and make it only about the facts. Do research in the way of understanding what similar organizations are paying for similar positions. Stats Can, Monster, and Workopolis all have information on what the industry standard is. Use this information to negotiate.”
There’s always a fine line between being assertive about your financial worth, and being overly aggressive. “It’s okay to ask for a higher starting salary, but it’s important to make it clear that the number you’ve asked for isn’t simply something you made up. Make sure it can be justified by market analytics and your ability to achieve professional goals,” says Mitchell.
This article was originally published in Urban Male Magazine: