Trying to land your dream job is like trying to navigate a professional obstacle course. You have to climb career walls, breakthrough glass ceilings, wade through the muddy waters of job skills, jump through degree hoops, learn the office ropes, master the corporate ladder and get through rigorous interview hurdles.
…I’m kinda really proud of that metaphor <3
Bottom Line: Every step from the job search to interview is so competitive it can seem impossible to stand out in a sea of skilled professionals.
Luckily, you aren’t like other candidates. Instead of complaining to your friends about how you hate your job and wish you could get a better one, you’re here learning the skills you need to hack the job search process and shine even if you’re not the most qualified applicant.
In this article we’ll teach you how find your dream job, boost your resume, and rock your interview. Whether you’re fresh out college or you’re looking for a career change, these tips will help you win the job of your dreams.
Search for the Right Job
Winning your dream job is all about finding the right opportunities. Keep these tips in mind to narrow your search as you scroll through job listings.
1. Make Sure It’s Your Dream Job
It should go without saying that you should look for jobs that you love but, you’d be surprised how many people don’t know what their dream job is.
In his Ted talk, my friend, the late Scott Dinsmore explains how people find themselves unhappy at work because they’re climbing a career ladder towards goals they never wanted to achieve and are stuck in careers that they have no passion for:
Before beginning your job search think about factors such as daily responsibilities, benefits, and company mission to make sure you’re pursuing jobs that will bring you happiness.
- List 3-5 day to day job activities that make you happy
- List 3-5 job skills that you feel you do better than others
- Write out your ideal work day
2. Research Company Cultures
As you’re searching for the job of your dreams, look for companies with cultures that fit your personality. Studies show that how you feel at work is correlated with your overall mood so it’s important to find jobs where you know you’ll be happy.
For example, if you’re a quiet introvert who prefers working alone, you don’t want end up at a company that requires constant collaboration among employees.
However, if you’re an outgoing extrovert, look for companies that emphasize teamwork because you love being social.
Don’t know anyone who can tell you about the culture of the company you’re applying for a job at? Check out sites like Glassdoor to read employee reviews and see how well you fit.
- Talk to mid-level employees at your ideal companies and see if their day to day is what you expected.
- Check out your ideal company’s Twitter Profile and see if they have tweets that interest you–would you follow them if you didn’t work at the company?
3. Build Your Network
Sometimes the best jobs are the least advertised. If you’re struggling to find openings that are the perfect match for your skills and interests, attend more networking events.
In The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell reported that 83% of people who find their jobs through a current contact do so through people they see only occasionally, if at all. Meeting more people in your industry is the best way to build casual relationships with people who can introduce you to awesome opportunities.
- Never Eat Alone. Keith Ferrazzi has a great approach to building your network. Highly recommend reading his book.
- Sign-up to MeetUp.com and go to one new event each week–don’t forget these can be book clubs, hiking groups or networking events. Do something you actually enjoy and you will meet like-minded people who can hook you up with a job you will love.
Craft a Winning Resume
A study by the The Ladders discovered that recruiters only spend an average of six seconds reading resumes. With so little time, your resume has to be spot on to make the cut.
Recruiters only spend an average of 6 seconds reading a resume!
Here are five winning resume hacks:
1. Tailor Your Resume to the Job
In their study, The Ladders researchers tracked what parts of resumes recruiters’ eyes focused on. They found that after looking at basic details such names and the amount of experience, recruiters scanned for keywords that matched what they are looking for in candidates. The more keywords, the higher the likelihood the resume was put in the interview pile.
So what are the magic keywords? It varies. But there’s an easy way for you to find out. When editing your resume, carefully read through job descriptions and look for phrases that are repeated. Most likely, those are the keywords recruiters are scanning for.
2. Boost Your Credibility with Data
The Greek philosopher Aristotle believed that the most persuasive way to prove your competence is using logic. Few strategies are more effective in creating logical arguments than incorporating data.
For example, if you’re a product manager you might have a phrase like this on your resume:
Oversaw the development of [new product]
Not very persuasive right? Compare it to this one:
Lead a team of product developers to create [a product] that increased revenue by 17%.
The second one is more compelling to employers because it proves you create results.
3. Keep It Consistent
There’s a belief in advertising that customers must be exposed to a product seven times before they buy it. Likewise, you need to use every section of your resume to reaffirm the message you’re sending to employers about your strengths.
When editing your resume, make sure it paints a clear picture of you are and what you do. Recruiters don’t have the time to figure out your strengths. Instead of trying to show all your amazing qualities, choose your top couple and repeat them throughout your resume.
4. Don’t Be Generic
In his book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion Professor Robert Cialdini explains that we value things more if they are rare. He calls this idea the Law of Scarcity and understanding it is a super effective way to boost your resume.
Instead of describing skills and experiences that are typical of your industry, note the achievements that few other candidates have.
Be creative! Perhaps you solved a unique problem, or worked with a prestigious client. Anything impressive that you write that other candidates don’t have on their resumes will make you stand out.
5. Show Off Your Soft Skills
We’ve written before about how people intelligence beats intellectual intelligence and we just found another reason why. A study conducted by the research firm Burning Glass analyzed 25 million job postings in 2015 and found that 1 in 3 skills requested were soft skills. This was true even in technical fields.
In their study they counted soft skills people and organizational skills including teamwork, communication, collaboration and writing.
Show off your soft skills on your resume by listing them as part of your job experiences.
Ex. Say you’re a content marketer and your last job was writing a company’s blog.
Instead of writing this as your description: Wrote three articles per week to promote the company’s brand.
Try this: Collaborated with the sales team to write weekly articles that engaged consumers.
Both bullets say you wrote promotional articles, but the second one shows you have people skills and that’s what employers are looking for.
Rock Your Interview
You found your dream job, the company is interesting in you and the only thing standing in the way of victory is the interview.
Here’s how to rock it:
1. Use a Clear and Consistent Tone
Did you know that people judge how competent you are just based on your tone? In an experiment on salary negotiations and business pitches, MIT researcher Alex Pentland found that “the more consistent [people] were in emphasis and rhythm while giving their pitch, the more convincing they were to others.” and that “people with greater consistency were also perceived as having better ideas and a better presentation style.”
Maintaining a consistent tone shows that you have a high degree of self-control and certainty – assets when you’re trying to get hired.
2. Show You’re Similar
A study conducted by Northwestern University discovered that interviewers tend to hire people who appear similar to them. Their findings are supported by the fact that we’re biased to like people who are like us.
During your interview show similarities between you and your interviewer by tailoring your answers to reflect company values and processes. For example, if the company does a volunteer trip once a year, talk about your charity work to try to show shared values.
Or, if they share one of their experiences with the company, compliment it with one of your own experiences that is similar enough to show that you’d fit in.
3. Display Confident Body Language
Are you super anxious before interviews? Master these body language hacks so you appear more confident.
- Keep your body open and friendly. When we’re nervous we tend to make ourselves smaller by crossing our arms and legs and hunching. This makes you feel safe, but it also shows you’re insecure. Force yourself to keep your legs and arms spread apart so you appear more open and friendly.
- Smile…but not too much. Women in particular tend to smile when they’re nervous. While you should certainly smile when you greet your interviewer, smiling throughout the entire interview makes you appear less intelligent.
- Maintain eye contact. Failing to maintain eye contact is a major sign of insecurity. You should aim to hold your interviewer’s eye contact 60-70% of the time.