Oh, the art of finding a job. Yes, I said it! Searching for a job is an art most people are trying to master but my question is, can we? Is there really a formula or a “right or wrong” way to look for the next great opportunity? In a world of so much information, so many articles and tips on how to write your resume, what font to use, what words are more attractive, good people and amazing professionals get lost as to what they should do. Really? Do recruiters and managers really care what font is used on a resume when one applies for a job? Wow!
Here’s my take, do what feels right to you! At the end of the day, only you know how to best express what you can offer to an employer. These days, the majority of companies hiring are looking for that candidate that can offer a little more than just the published job description. Many times, that “a little more” can get lost in the process when we try to standardize resumes, profiles and portfolios and end up looking like everybody else. Becoming someone on paper that is not really a reflection of who you really are or embellishing your skills and expertise will only play against you. Here are a few questions anyone searching for a job should ask themselves:
1- What do I really want?
This sounds like a silly question but a lot of people don’t have a clear idea as to what they want to do. They mainly focus on the title and the salary and the saddest thing is that they don’t take into account what they really want to get out of a certain position. Having a clear understanding of who you are, what you can do, what you love to do and what kind of company you want to work for is paramount to finding the so-called “dream-job.” Take the time to reflect on what you want and what would make you happy and weigh the pros and cons. Once you do this, you will know what positions and what companies you should be targeting. And trust me, employers want candidates that are clear about their wants. Your resume, if written in the best way to reflect who you are and what you can offer, will resonate with managers and recruiters.
2- How much am I willing to compromise for a certain position?
Only you know your personal situation and what you really need. It may be more money, work-life-balance, a promotion, a work-from-home situation, an international career. Think about how much you are willing to give to get to where you want to be at a particular moment. The key word here is “moment.” You may be unemployed and willing to do “anything” until you get that job you thought you wanted only to realize you can’t stand it. I’ve been there! Or you may be in a situation that you are willing to travel 50% of the time only to later be stressed and depressed because you are afraid of flying or because you cannot adapt to the culture of the country you are working at the time. What if you are planning on starting a family but then decide that a salary that is just too good to pass comes knocking on your door? Really sit down and think about your “deal breakers” and your flexibility.
3- Am I passionate about this position?
You may be the greatest at what you do but that doesn’t necessarily mean you can do a particular job. When you read the job description, ask yourself: “does this excite me”? “do I see myself doing this”? Any work that is done with passion is the kind of work worth doing. We spend most of our days at work so make sure that during the interview process you are not the only one being interviewed. Ask questions, not the canned ones. Ask about the work environment, flexibility, work from home, team environment, collaboration, emergencies, on-call schedules, you name it. I used to work in the news environment and before I started, I never thought I would work before and after hours every day of the week, be on call almost every weekend and be available 24/7. And no, I was not in the newsroom. I was in marketing!
4- Is the offer really a good offer?
Again, only you know your financial needs. But wait, it’s not just about the money. What about benefits, vacation days, sick days, maternity/paternity leave, flexibility and whatever else you may need or may be looking to have?Don’t just take what you get. There is always room for negotiation. What if you are from another country and need to go home for two weeks at a time? Work that out before you start. It’s a lot easier to work out certain arrangements when you are in the negotiation process. Once you are in, it may be a little more complicated.
5- How do current and former employees feel about the company?
With a little bit of research and approaching the right connections you will be able to get a feel for what the company is really about. The company’s website obviously will sell the company as the best place to work BUT, is it? Read reviews, reach out to current employees, talk to the assistants and even the cleaning crew. There is so much to be said about a work place when you talk to people who are there day in and day out. Former employees can also be a good resource. Be curious before you commit to something and of course, above all, trust your gut instinct.
And there you go! Different managers and recruiters work differently and look for candidates in different ways. There’s such a thing as too much information so trust your ability to sell yourself and yes, use the tips that resonate with you. The above questions have worked for me but may not work for you. Take everything you read, process it and decide if it fits with your style, skills, personality and expertise. I’ll tell you this much, I am not going to change the font on my resume because I read an article about it. But that’s just me.