20 Secret Tips to Get Your Dream Job
In a job market dominated by dehumanizing online job portals, artificial intelligence resume screening, and intense competition, landing a dream gig can often seem impossible. To help with this challenge, Cheapism talked to human resources professionals, recruiters, career consultants, and even some executives and CEOs for their top tips on landing a dream job.
Take the time to clearly think through and define what your dream job would involve. "Maybe it's the day-to-day responsibilities, the culture and lifestyle, or the mission or product you're supporting," says Tonya Salerno, principal/manager at talent acquisition firm WinterWyman. "It starts from understanding what it is you want, and why the job is ideal."
To identify the required skills, take a good look at the Linkedin profiles of individuals already working at your dream job, says Ketan Kapoor, CEO and co-founder of online assessment platform Mettl. If you fall short, try acquiring those skills by taking a course, enrolling in a training program, or seeking out a mentor.
One of the very first things potential employers will do is look at your LinkedIn profile. "If you set yours up and haven't touched it in ages, that will reflect poorly on you," says career consultant Amanda Oliver. Make sure your LinkedIn profile features a recent photo of you and also a background photo. You should also have a headline that stands out and lets others know your job hunting. In addition, ensure that your profile summary showcases your skills as well as your background. Job descriptions should be up-to-date and include data or links if possible.
Referrals are one of the best ways to get into a company that you're interested in, says Jenna Houliston, principal and team leader at WinterWyman. "Maintain a large network of people within your field via LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, and leverage that network when you're on the job hunt," she says. "Stay in touch, even when you're not looking, by sharing relevant industry articles or market data. You can even just drop a line to say hello. That way if you start looking, you're not reaching out to a contact out of the blue."
Many companies look for unexpected details on your resume to understand your personality and potential beyond what the job role requires, says Ketan Kapoor of Mettl. "Mention one fact from your life that not only sparkles and shines on your resume but is intriguing enough to strike up a conversation and build an instant connect with an interviewer. It can be your inclination to arts, sports, volunteer work, a travel story, or even a failure story. The more personality insights the interviewer gets, the better your conversion chances."
Finally got an interview for your dream job? Don't be shy about how excited you feel. "If you act like this is just an interview or role like any other, they won't know how strongly you feel about the opportunity," said Sarah Connors of WinterWyman's HR division. "Use specific examples and let him or her know why you're excited about this role. Your energy will likely be infectious, and your reasons could make you stand out from the crowd."
You never know what doors will open when you engage new people in conversation. "Sometimes the best way to find the perfect job comes from calculated spontaneity," says Rana Campbell, host of the business podcast Dreams in Drive. "I've found that sometimes the best opportunities come from totally random strangers." Challenge yourself to try to spark up five "random" conversations weekly and watch it pay off.
Don't stop your search for contacts at LinkedIn. "If you have the opportunity, join applicable professional organizations in your area to meet others in your desired industry," says Robin Schwartz, human resources expert and managing partner at MFG Jobs "Often, these organizations hold happy hours or events where the sole purpose is to mingle and discuss your job and career path. You can guarantee there are always a few managers or leaders looking for new talent."
Develop a network of solid references, as well as contacts at the company your targeting. "It's not that you must have a hundred people vouching for your skills, but even one influencer backing up your skill set can make all the difference," said Ketan Kapoor of Mettl. "Approach your mentors and university professors, or you can even try building a connect with one of the insiders in your dream company to crack the interview with flying colors."
Don't hesitate to reach out to a recruiter, says Robin Schwartz of MFG Jobs. "A recruiter can get your foot in the door for jobs that are never posted to the public and you would have otherwise never known about." Strong recruiters have the unique ability to market candidates for positions that might not seem like a direct connection.
When you talk to people, be sure to have your elevator pitch down pat. "You should be able to tell others who you are, what you stand for, your credibility, and what you're looking for," adds Rana Campbell of Dreams in Drive.
When pursuing your dream job, spend 50 percent of your time sharpening your skills and the other half of the time establishing connections who can vouch for your skills and talent. It's also a good idea to connect with existing employees at your dream company on LinkedIn. Join groups and forums where they hang out to grow those relationships and give you an upper hand when applying to the company, advises Ketan Kapoor of Mettl.
Whatever your dream job happens to be, it's important to know where you can find employment, including what type of companies offer that role. "Take the time to do some internet research about your field of interest and where the job market is at this particular time," explained Robin Schwartz of MFG Jobs. "We all know that highs and lows with the economy can drastically change where the jobs are or if there even are jobs. Know where the jobs in your desired career field are located and where you have the best chance of success."
A job interview is about far more than just covering the technical aspects of a job. You must know the hacks to ace the interview, said Ketan Kapoor of Mettl. "It's important to rehearse and learn tricks to keep your stress and anxiety levels in check during the interview while you prepare to get into your dream job," he said. You'll also want to be well-groomed and exhibiting confident, positive body language.
Many candidates just hit "apply" when submitting a resume through an online portal and then wait to be contacted, but you can follow up, says James Hu, founder and CEO of Jobscan. "To find who to follow up with, check your LinkedIn network for contacts who work at that company," says Hu. "Check the company's website or LinkedIn page, even check the job description to identify the team that the role reports to."
When it comes time for an interview, not only should you research the company, you should also research the person you will be interviewing with. "Find some common ground," says Jill Caponera, hiring manager for Promocodes.com. As for the company, dig through LinkedIn and identify the types of backgrounds employees have. Also check all social media for your target employer and read recent press articles to learn about any initiatives or happenings you can discuss during an interview.
Make an effort to stand out in your industry, says career consultant Mark Anthony Dyson, who podcasts about employment at The Voice of Job Seekers. "Write for leading industry blogs, get quoted as a source in the media, and find ways to connect with hiring managers and recruiters," he says. By doing these things, you'll eventually be applying for jobs less and more opportunities will present themselves to you. Be strategic about writing for publications and places where your dream companies are likely to be looking.
Identify people who already have the job want and contact them for advice. "They can give you tips, leads, advice, and support," says Ronda Ansted, career consultant and founder of Be the Change Career Consulting. "The easiest way to find people to connect with? Go to your school's alumni page and type in your dream job title." Doing this should provide you with a list of people you can approach for advice with the opening that you went to their alma mater.
Sometimes you may need to take a more junior position then hoped in order to get your foot in the door at your dream company. "The old pathway of starting in the mailroom and working your way up is still very valid," says Donna Shannon, career coach of Personal Touch Career Services. "However, you need to do more than just sort mail. These types of positions allow you to get to know everyone in the organization, which is essential to networking for your next promotion."
In 2018, a job seeker can no longer afford to disengage from the job search after landing employment. "Successful dream job catchers remain engaged through their professional organizations and being visible online by showing social proof," says career consultant Mark Anthony Dyson. "It's not good enough to belong to organizations. You must be active and visible through joining committees, attending and speaking at conferences, and networking with others including those who are considered influencers in the industry."
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