Ace the Interview and Win the Job

Part 5 in a How to get your dream job series.

Once you identify your dream job, help get yourself ready, healing apply the right way and parallel to this connect with the influencers – time is right to ace the interview and win the job.

A good resume (and a well rounded LinkedIn profile) can only help you get the interview. It does not necessarily help you win the job.

To win the job you need to show that you can do the job and you are the best candidate to do it.

Here is how to do it.

First, buy it is about mindset. Do not get into the interview thinking that only interviewer has something that he can give you. Of course he has a job to give you but you also have your talent to offer.

A person who is hiring someone needs a job done that is why he is investing time in interviewing people. He also has other important tasks to do and you can make his job easier by being the candidate who knows how to do the job, better than anyone else.

You show that you are the best candidate throughout the interview with your words, your mindset and actions that show that you really care about doing the job well.

When you have done your homework the words you speak will show that you know better.

Now take it a notch above everyone else by playing your final card. This card that when played right can help you stand apart from everyone even if you do not have the network and many other benefits.

Do this. Make a 10-20 page proposal about – what you will do in the job if you are hired. You should take this (printed) proposal neatly filed to interview. Once you are about 5-10 minutes into the job, ask the interviewer, “Sir (or Name of the interviewer), I prepared this proposal based on my understanding of the job.” Usually interviewer will say, “Sure, go ahead.” or something of that sort.

Now you present it. If you have created a decent enough proposal you will see the eyes of interviewer light up. Because till the time you show this proposal, nobody would have done anything close to it. His eyes lit up; because In you he has found his new employee. An employee who cares for the job, understands it well and do a decent job given a chance.

It’s a win-win the employer got the best employee out of the lot and you get closer to dream job.

Congrats!

How to Connect with Influencers

Part 4 in a How to get your dream job series.

This series is about getting your dream job and it may take a bit of time before you get your dream job. I hope you are ready for that 🙂

It takes a mix of right skills, pharm experience and connections to get your dream job.

I am assuming you have the skills. If you do not have right skills no one can help. Rich experience comes from applying your skills and learning on a consistent basis.

Now is the time to focus on building right connections. This is not to be done when you want something like a job but you need to do it all the time.

Do it because some of the best jobs are rarely advertised and even when they are advertised they go to the person who is known to person who will be hiring.

Why?

Because people want to work with people who they are comfortable with.

Hiring someone one does not know is a risk that not many are ready to take. So they go with a safer route – hiring someone they know so that there are no surprises. This is especially true when a person is hiring for important roles.

What if you are just starting out and do not have a good network to get help from. Start from where you are without waiting for perfection, ailment but not before you have spent a day or two to quickly seek and get some connections to start.

Here is how you do it.

For example, you want to apply to job at Google and you do not know anyone there yet. How do you go about it?

Send an email to your friends from college or your seniors who have been working for a while, asking them if they know anyone at Google. Chances are you will find one or two people and if you are lucky, you will get more. Get an intro to these people and tell that you are considering applying to a job with Google (send them the link for the position) and want to learn what it takes to do this job well.

Through them know the people in the department where your dream job is. If possible meet them over coffee, one by one. Be truthful that in future you are considering working with them (in their department) and ask them for help/guidance to win the job.

Chances are that through these connections, you will get good insights to ace the interview.

Apart from the job specific connection building – do some general connection building on a regular basis even if you are not looking for a new job right now.

Here is how.

If you want to do it well then connect with 4 new people in your industry every week. If you are lazy like me then connect with 2 new people every week.

Here is the process to connect.

Identify people who are in your industry via LinkedIn search. First try to connect with those who work in the same city as you.

Once you identify people you want to connect with, think of a way you can help them.

Can you assist them on one of their projects? If you can think of nothing better than just send a mail appreciating the work they are doing. Do not tell a lie say it if you feel it. If this person has has a blog, comment on their blog. Share their articles. You can also join a LinkedIn group where this person is a member and comment on their posts there.

Do not spam them by doing it all at once. Build it gradually. From here take the discussion to email. Aim to create 50 connections in a year within your industry. All of them need not be at senior level. Just get started and keep going.

With these 50 people keep in touch over email once every month. By doing this you will get response from some people. With these people move forward in your relationship – email  → phone → in person meeting in that order. You may have to build this bond over weeks or months (in case the relationship is very important) before you ask for any favour. One by one you will build a solid network.

You will keep on building this network.

In next post we will see how to ace the interview – that you will be invited to based on your connections and also because of your preparation.

Apply the Right Way

Part 3 in a How to get your dream job series.

The right way to apply for a job is to apply warm and not cold.

A warm application is made through a reference. Whereas in a cold application you send the application in without any common connection.

The difference between the success rate of both approaches (warm or cold) can be more than 100% – warm being better than cold.

Chances are you will be sending an email – most likely after an intro through your common connection. How do you make right connection is part of the next lesson you will learn when we get there.

For now let us discuss other parts of sending this email.

How you write this email is important. Do you not write a very long email. 4-5 lines are good. This should tell in one line what you do right now. Another line or two for what you have been doing professionally in the past. And last line or two should focus on why you are fit for this and to say that you are eager to meet the interview and do this job.

The resume you attach to the email should be lean means you should remove jargons, drugs and tailor your resume to this job.

Now take a deep breath and send it away.

Meanwhile continue your connection building effort and keep talking to the person who will hire you.

Next up we will discuss how to connect with influencers.

Get Yourself Ready for the Dream Job.

Part 2 in a series on How to get your dream job?

After you identify your dream job it is important that you get yourself ready for the dream job.

I will spare you details like being well groomed and looking good when you go and meet some one. These are important but not the core of preparation for your dream job.

The most important preparation to get your dream job (on any job for that matter) is to understand the job that you are applying for. This preparation starts weeks before you get to the interview.

If you want to prepare well then it is important that you do not focus on applying for too many jobs at one go. If you can – spend 15 days preparing for one job. Never focus at more than two jobs at once. By doing this you will stand apart from other candidates – because most candidates do not prepare and those who do, shop do it in bits and pieces because they focus on too many jobs at one go.

You also should remove the dust off your resume and tailor it to the job you are applying for.

Also get a cover letter ready specific for this job.

Fine-tune your LinkedIn profile. Get a custom url for your profile. Ask your friends for recommendations. Upload a good picture (head-shot) on your LinkedIn profile.

If you do not have a lot of experience then get some volunteer experience. This can be gained by offering to do things for free for people. This is also the fastest way to get experience, ailment credibility and build connections.

This may look like a lot of preparation but it is totally worth it. If you are really serious being over prepared does not hurt.

Think about it. Will you do it if it increase your chances of getting invited for a interview 5 to 10 times? If you will then go for it; because this is the kind of impact that this preparation can make on your chances of winning your dream job.

Your preparation will also depend on the job you are applying for, and at what level.

If you are someone who is applying for a programming role then it helps if you have a profile on Github and have regular commits there. For a designer a portfolio on a site like dribble is more important.

If you are applying for a role in marketing, then the campaigns you have worked on in the past hold a lot of importance. It also helps if you have additional certificates in areas like brand management or digital marketing.

Now you are on the right path with your preparation, time to apply.

Identify Your Dream Job

Part 1 in a series on How to get your dream job?

The 1st step to find and get a dream job is to identify it.

You should know what your dream job is. Not many people do and still they say that I am not happy with my job or I do not like my boss, advice colleagues or work.

Unless you know where you want to go, sales it will be hard for you to reach there. So identify your dream job. Here is how to do it.

Think about the work you really enjoy – not because it is simple but because it gives you enough opportunity to learn. Also think about what do you enjoy learning about the most. Look for this action and learning in your dream job.

Q: What makes a dream job?

A: A dream job should help you grow and make you satisfied.

Such growth does not come from doing something that you already know. It comes from learning what you do not know yet. It helps if it is related a bit to your current skill set and experience. But there should not be an exact overlap.

With this understanding, take about 30 minutes to think about your dream job. Once you finish this exercise, list down 10-20 companies that you’d like to work with. Now do a search on big job boards and the websites of these companies for jobs that are already advertised in your area of expertise.

Put all these in a document or spreadsheet so that you will not have to go back to find these. After you have made this list – you need to start working on preparation.

Chances there will some gaps in your skill set and experience based on what is required to do your dream job.

During preparation phase, you will work on filling these gaps and get ready to show your best side to the world.

Finding the right mentor

While I begin writing this article, keeping in mind the promise I made (in one of my previous write ups) of helping you find the right mentor, one thing that comes to my mind is the 1984 American movie Karate Kid.

The movie beautifully depicts mentoring and the importance of finding the right mentor. In the movie, Daniel LaRusso, the protagonist learns Karate from one Mr. Miyagi. To put it in better perspective, it makes sense to give you a context before moving ahead.

Distressed by one his colleagues at the high school, having failed to overpower him at numerous occasions; Daniel LaRusso (a high school kid) turns to Mr. Miyagi to learn Karate.

Now what’s interesting to know is that during his Karate training he spends the first four days doing odd jobs without any formal Karate lessons and also not questioning the master’s wisdom much in making him do so.

On the evening of the fourth day when his patience fails him and he begins to question his master’s intent, the master (Mr. Miyagi) makes him realize that he (Daniel) has learnt Karate during the course of four days without actually receiving any ‘so called’ formal training!

I shared this with purpose here. After watching the movie many times, I realized two things:

–      One, there is an appointed mentor for each one of us in this world and we need to search for him.

–      Two, there is another mentor that is always around us and is constantly guiding us, if we are listening.

I will discuss both, starting with the first one.

I believe nature always appoints a mentor for each one of us on this earth. There is increasing evidence to back this statement and more and more literature around the idea of people coming together and collaborating (mentors meeting the mentees and vice versa).

As I mentioned in my previous write up, a mentor is someone who helps you raise your awareness, fundamentally about yourself and about everything else that surrounds you. He may not do it consciously but the moment you get conversing with him, you see a world of opportunities and most importantly you get to be your real self.

The mentor supplies warmth, exuberance and hope; he empowers you to handle whatever comes your way. His thoughts, feelings and actions inspire you (it may not be true for others) to take action and change your own life.

Now, the answer to the question of ‘how and where to find the right mentor’ lies in my second observation about the movie which is that there is a mentor always around us and always guiding us. I call this mentor – our life!

Our life is our biggest mentor, always trying to teach us new things every moment. Everything we experience on a daily basis carries a lesson or two for us. Sometimes we pay heed and we learn, often we ignore and we suffer.

This experience could be anything and everything we undertake on a daily basis, may be the love and compassion we exchange daily with a few people, perhaps the bitterness we carry about a select few (people, events, objects or processes). Every experience guides us to changing / altering something about how we conduct ourselves.

Sometimes we view this change as positive and enjoy it; often we dislike it and we suffer. The point is when agree to or align ourselves to whatever life tries to teach us, we learn faster, are more happy and productive. The reverse is also true!

A praise, for example, from your boss or senior for your work is telling you to be more careful about your work in future, since the expectations have gone high.

Similarly a repeated negative outcome of any task / process, may be telling you that there is something fundamentally wrong about the task, process or how you go about the task.

When we start listening and paying attention, our life mentor gets in action.

When I say listening, I mean surrendering ourselves to our life and learning whatever it tries to teach us without any resistance (physical or mental).

It doesn’t stop here! Your life then takes you to better things, better opportunities and better people; these are your mentors. They don’t necessarily have to be any spiritual gurus, don’t be mistaken! They are people like you are me who have developed a refined sense of listening and paying attention to their own life mentor.

Mentors, career counseling and happiness!

Most of us want great careers!

You want it. I also want it.

We aspire to make a contribution, sovaldi get rewarded for it – materially, drugs psychologically and spiritually. We want to have a life which allows us to enjoy these rewards and at the same time extend it to people we love and care.

However, not everyone gets rewarded the way he wants. In fact, even those who ‘we feel’ are doing great may not express great joy and satisfaction about what they do.

Some attribute this dissatisfaction to lack of purpose in their lives. Some say ‘things should have happened faster, I toiled but did not get the desired outcome’, others complain ‘It happened a bit too fast for other aspects of my life to catch up’.

Everyone has a reason or two to express his discontent, not be happy with his career and life as a result. Sad but true!

Why is it so? Why do people express dissatisfaction about what they do?

Do careers lack promise nowadays or are individuals who pursue careers to be blamed? Are careers resulting into greater prosperity for individuals or increased social anxiety? Why do some people do better than others? Why? And finally ‘are there any remedies / any answers?’

While I may not be able to offer any solutions, I will however offer my perspective. You may or may not agree with me, the choice is yours!

So here is what I feel.

One of my mentors would often say, there are three things to employment – getting a job, keeping a job and growing in a job; and he would add that most of spend our lives ‘getting and keeping a job!’

If you look around, you will find that this is true for most of us! Almost all of us are so much consumed by the day to day living and the feeling of insecurity about everything in our lives that we always live in a constant fear of losing a job or not doing well for that matter. Only few rise the career ladder!

Does that mean a select few are competent and deserve to grow in a job or that a select few are working at the right places and large numbers spend their lives working at the wrong places, trying to understand what they are supposed to be doing? Not really!

As a human resource BELIEVER, I believe in the power of human beings and in what they can result by right application of their intellectual abilities.

Unfortunately, however, only a select few are able to apply themselves towards understanding what career they are supposed to choose and how they can grow in their chosen career. This is not to demean the rest, but to say that most of us require people who can supply direction at different stages of life. Technically, they are called as mentors.

When I say mentors, I mean people who can guide you to a path, essentially help you in developing awareness about yourself – your likes and dislikes, your working style and the working styles of others, your learning style, which eventually helps in deciding an action plan for treading upon the path.

But how can a mentor bring happiness and satisfaction in my career?

Two things, one – when I say mentor I do not necessarily mean a spiritual guru but someone who has dirtied his hands reasonably enough to offer an advice / insight that helps; two – happiness is a resultant of the decisions we take, choices we make in our lives.

A choice / decision that is based upon an insight (what is called as a well informed decision) leads to a series of events where happiness emerges as a byproduct. The reverse is also true, which means a random decision making process generates anxiety over a period of time resulting into dissatisfaction.

Your mentor feeds you with just the right information to ensure that you make well informed choices. Remember he may not make decisions on your behalf (ideally he should not); instead he equips you to take decisions for yourself, back your decisions and assume responsibility of the outcome.

A right decision combined with the right timing ensures you stay on the right track always, live and work with a purpose, contribute resourcefully and get time to nurture your relationships – the key to upping your happiness indices!

I am sure you are wondering ‘how and where to find the right mentor?’ Well, that’s the question I leave you with. If you get your answer, great! If you experience trouble still, read my article on finding the right mentor.

Resume and Cover Letter for Non Profit Employers

In non profit organisations, site as evident from the word itself profit making is not the main objective. The main motive is creating a difference by addressing some social problem with an innovative solution. Quite obviously people who run these organisations operate with a different mindset than those who run profit organisations. They look for different kind of people, those who are extremely passionate about their work and not money focused only. It is therefore very apt to present your resumes and cover letters differently than you would for a profit making organisation.

It is Ok to express emotions: Again there is no golden rule but there are certain points that should be taken care of while drafting a cover letter and resume for a non-profit organisation. While emotions are a strict no in case of professional resumes, they are allowed to be shown in case of non-profit organisations. It is a good idea to present some positive emotions, passions and motivation for the work in the resume.

Mention some Volunteer Work: It is a good idea to present those experiences and the skills you acquired therein that helped you prepare yourself for the current job or the job you are applying for. Since, most of the non profit organisations involve volunteer work, it is also a good idea to mention some previous experience where you were involved in volunteer work or how you were inspired after seeing some volunteers undertaking their jobs gleefully.

Talk of Relevant Skills: The next tip would be to showcase your personality attributes or strengths that are pertinent to the current job. Explain how you would add value to the existing structure and support in creating others that are pro people. Mention examples from your previous work where you took on the role of preparation.

Express the Intent: Your resume should specifically mention why you want to join the non profit organisation. Remember the objective should alternate and not just special or gaudy. Also, alternate does not mean something which is away from reality and quoted just for the heck of it. It should be something that you can associate to. If you are switching from a corporate job to the non profit organisations job, you should clearly express you intent in doing so. A good idea to substantiate your objective or intent is to use examples of the transferable skills that are very relevant to the current job.

 

Length of the Resume

The major difference between a CV and a resume is their length. Whereas a curriculum vitae is an overall summary of education, buy the experience that can run into tens of pages; a resume is a more customised document that contains information tailored to the needs of the organisation you are applying to. It contains only the relevant experience and educational qualifications.

It is clearly evident thus that the resume cannot go beyond 2 pages, check or 3 pages at the maximum. You may find minor deviations from this rule but generally as mentioned above it does not go beyond 3 pages. There are however some writers who advice on not taking into consideration the number of pages your resume runs into. I would say, be watchful. There is a risk involved in writing long resumes and to be on a safer side, it is always good to write crisp and comprehensive resumes.

Still however it is an obvious fact that the resumes of fresher’s would be remarkably different from those of experienced people or people working at executive levels.

Resume length for freshers or frontline Job Seekers

Freshers generally do not have many a things to mention in terms of their experience than just their educational qualifications, their accomplishments, projects they have undertaken and their extracurricular activities. So when know that whenever we have the resume of a fresher in hand that stretches beyond one page, there would be a lot of repeat or exaggerated information. In fact most of the Job placement agencies advice against a resume going more than one page in length!

If you are a fresher and you have a two page resume, carefully revisit the contents of the second page of your resume. Also, ensure that the second page is filled at least up to the half margin and not less.

Resume length for Experienced or executive level people

With greater experience there are obviously more things to make mention of on the resume. But the trick of writing an effective resume is to keep it crisp and yet ensure all the relevant information is in! It is a good idea to mention only the relevant experience in detail, others that are unnecessary to the current job should be given a squeeze. Your accomplishments that have earned you accolades and recognition in the Industry should not be left out. In education, only the last degree earned should be mentioned very simply.

You may also write a lengthier resume, as long as you feel it is what is required for sitting in an interview for the job. However, many of you would agree that not many interviewers would like to research into a long, detailed resume. It is good to be on a safer side!

 

Proof Reading Your Resume

What do organisations look for in people? Without exception, check most of us would agree on the basic human values of Integrity, troche Commitment and the right attitude. A resume is the first depiction of all these attributes than your prospective employer comes across. Imperfection in the resume connotes lack of commitment in the individual and vice versa.

A resume being your tool of marketing yourself has to be crafted and not drafted and that too with elegance which literally means the margin for error is zero. A good resume often signs of a good employee and this is true really! But however we often come across some resumes that have errors of various kinds that creep in either by mistake or in unawareness. In both cases it is considered bad! Here is a list of some of the errors we make in writing a resume and some tips also on how to reduce them.

1. Mistakes in Grammar: Many times it so happens that the tenses keep on switching between the resume. Your current duties and projects should come in present tense whereas anything pertaining to the past should be in past tense only. Be consistent in usage of various formats across the entire resume. For example, if you are using a certain date format in the beginning, ensure that it remains the same throughout.

2. Mistakes in Spelling:  While writing your resume, follow the rule of keeping your language as simple as possible. Do not use uncommon words or words that you are not yourself aware of.  It is a good idea to keep consulting a dictionary as you write.

 3. Mistakes in using the correct Punctuation Marks: Here again consistency is the key. Check for breakage of sentences and use the appropriate punctuation mark. Close sentences with a full stop and do not just leave it open, keep a check on the periods. It is better to avoid exclamation marks in the resume.

4.  Other Mistakes: Before you send your resume, get it reviewed from two or three people for errors if any. Check all the dates (day/month/year) of your employment. Check for the contact details including the phone number, the address. It is a good idea to leave out the abbreviations and slang is a strict no.

Career advice for smart people