If you’re a professional in today’s working world, you’ve probably realized that the process of acquiring a new job is rapidly evolving.
The traditional, pre-digital method of searching through newspaper ads for positions or even walking into companies to personally drop off your resume are practices of the past. The new reality is that by the time you’re responding to a job posting, you’re probably already behind.
Rather, in today’s business world, you have to be one step ahead of job postings, tapping into your network (which is more powerful than you think) and getting on the radar of the right people before your dream position even pops up on a job board or LinkedIn.
Alex Cavoulacos, co-founder of The Muse, released a brand new book with co-author Kathryn Minshew called The New Rules of Work: The Modern Playbook to Navigating Your Career, which gives step-by-step guidance on finding the right career path, landing that perfect job, growing and advancing in your current field, and other miscellaneous tips to prospering in todays job market.
Cavoulacos stopped by #BizChats, Mashable’s business show to share with us five top tips any person needs to know to ace the job application process.
1. Know the company
Cavoulacos says: “Do your research. What’s their mission? What are they looking to do? Is there any press that came out recently of expansions that they’re doing? By knowing more about them, than throwing an application at them without doing your research, you’re going to stand out already against other people.”
2. Use your network
Cavoulacos says: “You likely know someone who knows someone, who could be helpful. That doesn’t mean they can get you a job. It might not even mean they can get you an intro, but they might be able to get you some information about the culture there, they might be able to tell you a little bit about what it’s like to work there (if they worked there beforehand), so use LinkedIn, look for second degree connections and don’t be afraid to dig a little bit and see if people could be helpful.”
3. Think quality, not quantity
Cavoulacos says: “One of the biggest mistakes people make in their job search is what we call the ‘spray and pray,’ which is updating your resume once then applying to as many jobs as possible if what you are saying to yourself is ‘today was successful because I applied to 30 jobs,’ you are not doing it right. It’s really important to take the time, find the right roles and then craft those applications so that you really stand out, because against those people who are doing ‘spray and pray,’ you have no chance.
4. Practice telling your story
Cavoulacos says: “There’s a lot of questions that are less formulaic than they used to be in the interview process now, but there’s still some questions you’re going to get asked no matter what, so practicing the ‘how did you get to where you were?’ or ‘tell me about yourself.'”
“The last thing you want to do is take 20 minutes out of a 30 minute interview telling your life story,” she adds. “Take the time to think about what’s the narrative, what do you want to include, what are you skipping over, they can always ask you more, they have your resume in front of them, but make sure you’ve practiced how you’re going to give that short version, the slightly longer version of the ‘tell me your story,’ question.”
5. Remember you’re interviewing the company, too.
Cavoulacos says: “As you’re going through this process, it’s really something you can spend a lot of time thinking about: ‘Am I impressing them?’ ‘Do they want me?’ and then all of a sudden you get to the end of the road and you’re like: ‘Oh! Uh, do I want them?‘”
“Make sure you spend the time to ask those questions. Get to know the people you’re interviewing with, ask them what they enjoy about the company, what projects they’re working on, finding out more about the benefits, the perks, the traditions, the culture of the company all of that is fair game,” she adds.
“You can both do that doing research online, but when you’re in the office look around. Is it an open floor plan? What’s the energy like? Are you hearing anything about how people interact? Are you meeting people from different departments? Those are all clues that should give your gut either a sense of ‘yeah, this feels right,’ or maybe it doesn’t and that’s okay. You can even withdraw from the interview process if it feels like it’s not a good fit, but you want to make sure by the time you make a decision, you have enough information to know it’s the right fit for you.”