November 23, 2014

7 Job hunt and interview skills that will keep you in the know

7 Job hunt and interview skills

After college, it’s not easy to find the right job. Gone are the days when a degree led to a queue of companies clamouring to recruit. The economic climate is not conducive to finding employment, and if anything, the market is saturated with graduates all looking for that elusive career job.

It all starts with the job hunt. It’s arduous, time consuming and, at times frustrating to trawl through lists of jobs, trying to work out from limited information whether or not you can see yourself in the job. Often the details are sketchy, and when dealing with recruitment agencies, information about the companies is obscure. Where to start? Here are some tips that may help.

1. Get Organized: Make Lists

Start by making a list of what you would like to get from a position. Are you looking for a graduate job? Are you limited to location, or commuting times? Are you happy with doing one job that isn’t as interesting, in order to work your way into a position that is?

Decide which working environment will suit you: would you prefer to work for a small, local company, a large chain or corporate company, or working on your own/ in a big team. If you are expecting to be working there for five days a week, for a while to come, you need to be sure you would be happy to put in the time in that environment.

2. Hunt Online

The online job hunt can be very beneficial. Start with looking on the big, general recruitment websites like jobrapido.com and adding your resume to their database. A general search engine request like ‘jobs in California’ can sometimes be very informative.

Make a list of companies you know you’d like to work for given the chance, and look into their website. Often there is a ‘careers’ or ‘jobs’ page listing the current vacancies.

Make your search as narrow as possible. For example, if you’ve trained for a career in web design, look up ‘web design companies in (location)’ in a search engine, and you should come across companies in the area, or sometimes even lists of company names and phone numbers.

3. Don’t be Afraid to Phone

If you are not enquiring about a specific vacancy it can sometimes be more beneficial to ring the company, state your intentions and ask if there is anything going. This shows your willingness to work in any capacity, and demonstrates to the employer how important it is to you to work in that sector.

If there are no paid jobs listed, find out about any internships and graduate training programmes if you have a specific company in mind. If you would do anything to work for certain people, nothing shows loyalty more than a willingness to work for very little to no money. It may be a less glamorous job, but this level of enthusiasm may help to boost you a few steps up the career ladder – and you may learn a few things along the way.

4. Keep Your Options Open

During the application process, don’t pass over a job because the salary is entry level, rather than at the threshold you think you should be earning. If the job is a promising one, it should only be a matter of time before you show your worth, and then you are justified in asking what the salary options are.

As a graduate it is easy to think ‘I deserve the best job because I have a degree.’ In the other extreme, you shouldn’t dumb yourself down and accept just anything. Play to your strengths and talents and don’t be afraid to go for more senior positions, but be prepared to be turned down based on experience.

It’s a vicious cycle in the job market: companies want employees with experience, but graduates often haven’t had the chance to prove themselves yet. Find out as much about the company and the job as possible, and do your best to wow them at interview by showing how well you would fit into their team. Sometimes companies will hire a graduate over an experienced candidate, as experience can sometimes lead to annoying work habits.

5. Calm, Cool and Collected: The Interview Process

When you finally get the exciting invitation to interview, take deep breaths beforehand to maintain calm and focus. Smile, be polite, ensure high levels of eye contact with all interviewers, and be yourself while maintaining a professional approach. If it comes down to a choice between you and another candidate, it may be your personality, and how it might fit into the existing team, that swings it either way.

When a question is being asked, keep eye contact and ensure you come across as interested and thoughtful, even if the interviewer takes a while to get the question out.

If you’re not sure how to answer the question straight away, just ask politely if you could have a minute to prepare, and think of something good. Make a few notes if necessary, rather than reeling off the first thing that comes to mind. With hindsight, you’ll kick yourself for not thinking of something more relevant.

Be animated and ask lots of questions at the end, even if you can only think of: ‘what kind of uniform do you require employees to wear?’ or’ how long has the company been in the area?’ If the interviewers have not been over it yet, ask about the history of the company, how it came about – take an interest in the story behind the company, which will demonstrate your desire to become involved, and ultimately to help the company succeed.

6. Always Ask Questions

Ask more detailed questions about the job description, i.e. ask if there were some duties you weren’t completely sure about, or mention an element of the job that sounded particularly interesting. Use it to draw on your own experiences, without necessarily waiting for the next question.

If you do come across the perfect job, make sure you consider the location – going to an interview is the best way to assess what the commute will be like. If the company is too far you may have to consider moving, or if you are happy to travel, take the cost of the journey into account if you are asked at interview what salary you would be happy with.

7. Keep Trying

Don’t be put off by unsuccessful interviews – look on them as experience for the next one, and learn from them. A lot of companies will give you detailed feedback if you ask for it, and recruitment agencies find out as much as they can on your behalf, so take the comments, and work on them for the future. And don’t forget to smile!

 

Guest Blogumnist Annie Stuart has been writing professionally for five years and specialises in the careers and education sector. She also has a sideline interest in personal finance and writes on behalf of a balance transfer credit cards service in the UK.

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