Aaron is a fresh college graduate looking to land his first full-time job. He studied Finance in college and has been researching companies in the Phoenix area for available entry-level finance positions. Aaron worked as a server throughout college but he doesn’t have much relevant experience in the financial industry. He’s new to the job hunting process and doesn’t know where to begin his search. What can Aaron do to increase his chances of landing a great job? This is a very common problem for many fresh graduates across the nation. In a recent survey administered to over 500 graduating students for Door of Club’s “College Graduates’ Views on Job Prospects” segment, over 67% of students did not have a job lined up after college. This is a big problem considering that the average college graduate has over $37,000 in debt. In this article, I hope to shed some light on how to land your dream job.
This is probably my favorite social platform today. With over 450 million active users around the world, LinkedIn has become the go-to platform for professionals. Not only do many companies post job openings on LinkedIn, the site allows you to connect with professionals from wide range industries and backgrounds. One of the best ways to learn about positions you may be interested in is to reach out to professionals. They know what it takes to succeed in the role. Asking them about their experiences can give you a better understanding of what to expect. When I was looking for my first job back in 2014, I consistently reached out to professionals on LinkedIn to ask questions related to various roles I was applying for. Not only does speaking with these individuals give you a better understanding of what to expect from a role you’re applying for, it also helps build rapport with the individual. On 3 separate occasions, the professionals I spoke with forwarded my resume over to their hiring managers. These interactions resulted in 3 separate in-person interviews. Although you shouldn’t expect your connection to forward your resume along, it’s a possibility if you impress them with engaging questions and show interest in the company. I’ve provided an article I wrote on how to best approach these professionals here.
Come up with S.T.A.R responses
You might be wondering what gives with the silly title? The acronym S.T.A.R refers to Situation, Task, Action, and Result. This is an approach that has been used by many hiring managers across the nation to evaluate job candidates on their aptitude for a role. Given that on average 118 applicants apply for any job opening, you’ll need to develop sound responses to an array of behavioral questions to ensure that you distinguish yourself from the pack. Start by thinking of 5 to 10 stories of times you exhibited skills such as leadership, technical ability, teamwork, adaptability, strong judgment, and ethical behavior. One of the things I did to come up with these stories is to look at a list of 70 to 100 commonly asked behavioral questions. Then, I asked myself if those stories covered the desired outcome of the question being asked. If the answer was yes, I’d write down the story. Once you’ve come up with a list of at least 5 to 10 stories, walk through each part of the S.T.A.R technique formula. For a great article I wrote on how to develop your S.T.A.R responses, check out the link provided here. Now that you have your responses written out and ready to go, utilize the next technique to become a true interviewing rock star!
Have you ever heard the phrase “practice makes perfect? Although it does have many sports applications, it also applies to landing your dream job. As part of your interview prep, compile a list of 50 to 100 behavioral questions you may be asked. For a list of these questions, I’ve provided a link to help you get started. Once you’ve compiled your list, read through each one and practice delivering your S.T.A.R responses in front of a mirror. Dr. Albert Mehrabian, Professor of Psychology at UCLA, popularized the idea of the “7% rule”. The rule illustrates how 7% of your perceived credibility comes from verbal communication while a whopping 93% of perceived credibility comes from non-verbal cues (38% – vocal tonality and 55% – body language). This just goes to show how important projecting confident and assertive body language can be to performing well in an interview. I remember the first time I tried delivering my S.T.A.R responses in front of a mirror. It was a frustrating and lackluster experience. I constantly messed up and was forced to start over on multiple occasions. However, I eventually got into a rhythm and I was able to deliver my responses effortlessly. Practice your responses until you feel extremely comfortable delivering them. Now that you feel comfortable delivering your responses, set up a few mock interviews to practice your responses in front of others. It’s amazing how different of an experience it is to have someone ask you questions in person. Repeat this cycle as many times as you need in order to feel comfortable. The goal is to be able to deliver a clean and polished response to each of the questions on your list.
You’ve prepared tirelessly, you’ve done your research and now it’s time to make it happen! On the day of the interview, make sure you have a healthy breakfast and then go about your normal routine. Eating breakfast has been shown to improve overall cognitive performance and increases alertness in the morning. Leading up to the interview, be sure to validate the location of the interview and the time you need to be there. To be safe, I always recommend you show up between 15 to 30 minutes prior to your interview. This will allow you to get a lay of the land and will show that you’re a punctual individual. When it’s your turn to be interviewed, be sure to shake your interviewer’s hand firmly and begin the interview process. You’ve prepared extensively for this moment so be yourself and have fun. Once the interview is complete, thank each interviewer individually for their time. They’ve taken time out their busy schedule to interview you so it’s important to show appreciation. When you arrive home from the interview, begin crafting your “thank you” emails. These emails should be short, concise, and highlight why you’re a good fit for the position. For a great article on how to craft a solid thank you letter, check out the link provided here. Although the process of preparing for an interview can feel stressful, it can become an extremely worthwhile experience. What are some of the strategies you’ve implemented in your interview prep? Do you have any other suggestions that you feel would benefit our readers? If so, I’d love to hear from you.
My book recommendation for this article is “Winning” by Jack Welch. Although this book doesn’t have to do with the interview process, it does provide great insights on how to perform well in your career. In the book, Jack shares his insights on management and how you can apply his “winning” strategies to advance your career. This book is one of the best ever written on the subject of management and career advancement and is definitely worth the read. I’ve provided a link to the book below: https://www.amazon.com/Winning-Ultimate-Business-How-Book-ebook/dp/B000FCK3GO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1497004814&sr=8-1&keywords=Winning
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Author: Raphael Collazo
Raphael Collazo is a millennial author and editor of The Strong Professional blog. An engineer by trade, Raphael has applied his analytical thinking to researching and condensing the most useful and effective strategies for Millennials into actionable content. He regularly speaks at local and regional events spreading his message of balanced living to other millennials.