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4 Unusual Steps To Land A Job Interview

4 Unusual Steps To Land A Job Interview

It’s time for a change. You feel like a cog in a machine, or perhaps the pay, benefits or work environment just don’t make the cut. You want out of your current company.

You’ve tried before. Crafted an amazing resume, sent it to 100 different places and nothing. No response, or no good responses. I know the feeling. It seems like you are lost in the sea of applicants.

So the question is, how do you get an interview? What will make you stand out above everyone else? Here are 5 unusual steps to get an interview.

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It’s a numbers game… but not a large number.

Conventional job search wisdom tells you to send out resumes. A LOT of resumes. Stories abound of people sending out 100, 200 or even 1,000 resumes. Guess what? It doesn’t work. Everyone sends resumes. You need to be different. Here is the first step. Start with 10 companies where you would like to find a position. Do enough research to know they fit your skills, values and preferences. Learn what you can about the company culture. But do NOT send out resumes, not yet at least.

1. Get connected

Next you should dig into information about the company and find the person in charge of the area or department you’d like to work. Connect with them on LinkedIn and follow them on Twitter. Read articles and blog posts they write or share and make positive comments. Be sincere. This is where you begin to get your name in their mind.

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2. Bypass the application process

Conventional wisdom will also tell you to go to the company website (or online job site) and fill out an application. Don’t do it! That just lumps you with everyone else. Use the connection you are building on social media. Ask for their permission to contact them directly via email. This is important, ask for permission! If you just send an email it can seem intrusive and pretentious. If you ask for permission they get the opportunity to be kind AND will be looking forward to your email. In the email tell them you are interested in working for them. Give 3-4 short bullet points as to how the company would benefit by having you on board. Then let them know you’ll be back in touch soon.

3. The necessary resume evil

Now get your resume ready. Make sure you customize your resume to highlight the skills that would best serve the company or department. Everything is about them, not you. Be honest on your resume, but emphasize how your experience is good for them. Depending on your contact you could send your resume in a physical letter or via email. But either way wait for a couple of days after the previous email. In the letter accompanying your resume let the person know you’ll follow up by phone. Give a specific day and time, generally 2-3 days after they receive your resume.

4. Stay in contact

Staying top of mind means doing something unusual. Do you know what job seekers don’t do? Follow up with a phone call. Especially before even landing the interview. For this step you need to make the phone call, at the exact date and time you indicated in the letter attached to your resume. This is the simplest step but the most daunting for many. But do it, it makes a huge difference.

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Suggestions for the conversation: It’s a short phone call. You want to remind the person who you are and emphasize one or two points from your resume that can help their company. Always address the person in a formal way unless invited to use a first name. This shows respect. Remember the goal – to set up an appointment. Don’t use the word “interview”. Ask when you can get together and chat. I know this article is about getting an interview, but don’t say the word. This way you are more of a partner offering to help (for compensation) than an ordinary job seeker begging to be hired.

In summary, the secret to getting an interview is three words.

Ignore the rules.

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You have to keep yourself top of mind for the decision maker. Stand out, be unique, and don’t give up. Building a relationship will jump you to the head of the line. One last note, if you don’t get the results you are seeking after contacting 10 companies, then do the process again with another 10. Keep looping through the process until you’ve found the job of your dreams!

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Last Updated on June 18, 2019

5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

It takes great leadership skills to build great teams.

The best leaders have distinctive leadership styles and are not afraid to make the difficult decisions. They course-correct when mistakes happen, manage the egos of team members and set performance standards that are constantly being met and improved upon.

With a population of more than 327 million, there are literally scores of leadership styles in the world today. In this article, I will talk about the most common leadership styles and how you can determine which works best for you.

5 Types of Leadership Styles

I will focus on 5 common styles that I’ve encountered in my career: democratic, autocratic, transformational, transactional and laissez-faire leadership.

The Democratic Style

The democratic style seeks collaboration and consensus. Team members are a part of decision-making processes and communication flows up, down and across the organizational chart.

The democratic style is collaborative. Author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek is an example of a leader who appears to have a democratic leadership style.

    The Autocratic Style

    The autocratic style, on the other hand, centers the preferences, comfort and direction of the organization’s leader. In many instances, the leader makes decisions without soliciting agreement or input from their team.

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    The autocratic style is not appropriate in all situations at all times, but it can be especially useful in certain careers, such as military service, and in certain instances, such as times of crisis. Steve Jobs was said to have had an autocratic leadership style.

    While the democratic style seeks consensus, the autocratic style is less interested in consensus and more interested in adherence to orders. The latter advises what needs to be done and expects close adherence to orders.

      The Transformational Style

      Transformational leaders drive change. They are either brought into organizations to turn things around, restore profitability or improve the culture.

      Alternatively, transformational leaders may have a vision for what customers, stakeholders or constituents may need in the future and work to achieve those goals. They are change agents who are focused on the future.

      Examples of transformational leader are Oprah and Robert C. Smith, the billionaire hedge fund manager who has offered to pay off the student loan debt of the entire 2019 graduating class of Morehouse College.

        The Transactional Style

        Transactional leaders further the immediate agenda. They are concerned about accomplishing a task and doing what they’ve said they’d do. They are less interested in changing the status quo and more focused on ensuring that people do the specific task they have been hired to do.

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        The transactional leadership style is centered on short-term planning. This style can stifle creativity and keep employees stuck in their present roles.

        The Laissez-Faire Style

        The fifth common leadership style is laissez-faire, where team members are invited to help lead the organization.

        In companies with a laissez-faire leadership style, the management structure tends to be flat, meaning it lacks hierarchy. With laissez-faire leadership, team members might wonder who the final decision maker is or can complain about a lack of leadership, which can translate to lack of direction.

        Which Leadership Style do You Practice?

        You can learn a lot about your leadership style by observing your family of origin and your formative working experiences.

        Whether you realize it, from the time you were born up until the time you went to school, you were receiving information on how to lead yourself and others. From the way your parents and siblings interacted with one another, to unspoken and spoken communication norms, you were a sponge for learning what constitutes leadership.

        The same is true of our formative work experiences. When I started my communications career, I worked for a faith-based organization and then a labor union. The style of communication varied from one organization to the other. The leadership required to be successful in each organization was also miles apart. At Lutheran social services, we used language such as “supporting people in need.” At the labor union, we used language such as “supporting the leadership of workers” as they fought for what they needed.

        Many in the media were more than happy to accept my pitch calls when I worked for the faith-based organization, but the same was not true when I worked for a labor union. The quest for media attention that was fair and balanced became more difficult and my approach and style changed from being light-hearted to being more direct with the labor union.

        I didn’t realize the impact those experiences had on how I thought about my leadership until much later in my career.

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        In my early experience, it was not uncommon for team members to have direct, brash and tough conversations with one another as a matter of course. It was the norm, not the exception. I learned to challenge people, boldly state my desires and preferences, and give tough feedback, but I didn’t account for the actions of others fit for me, as a black woman. I didn’t account for gender biases and racial biases.

        What worked well for my white male bosses, did not work well for me as an African American woman. People experienced my directness as being rude and insensitive. While I needed to be more forceful in advancing the organization’s agenda when I worked for labor, that style did not bode well for faith-based social justice organizations who wanted to use the love of Christ to challenge injustice.

        Whereas I received feedback that I needed to develop more gravitas in the workplace when I worked for labor, when I worked for other organizations after the labor union, I was often told to dial it back. This taught me two important lessons about leadership:

        1. Context Matters

        Your leadership style must adjust to each workplace you are employed. The challenges and norms of an organization will shape your leadership style significantly.

        2. Not All Leadership Styles Are Appropriate for the Teams You’re Leading

        When I worked on political campaigns, we worked nonstop. We started at dawn and worked late into the evening. I couldn’t expect that level of round-the-clock work for people at the average nonprofit. Not only couldn’t I expect it, it was actually unhealthy. My habit of consistently waking up at 4 am to work was profoundly unhealthy for me and harmful for the teams I was leading.

        As life coach and spiritual healer Iyanla Vanzant has said,

        “We learn a lot from what is seen, sensed and shared.”

        The message I was sending to my team was ‘I will value you if you work the way that I work, and if you respond to my 4 am, 5 am and 6 am emails.’ I was essentially telling my employees that I expect you to follow my process and practice.

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        As I advanced in my career and began managing more people, I questioned everything I thought I knew about leadership. It was tough. What worked for me in one professional setting did not work in other settings. What worked at one phase of my life didn’t necessarily serve me at later stages.

        When I began managing millennials, I learned that while committed to the work, they had active interests and passions outside of the office. They were not willing to abandon their lives and happiness for the work, regardless of how fulfilling it might have been.

        The Way Forward

        To be an effective leader, you must know yourself incredibly well. You must be self-reflective and also receptive to feedback.

        As fellow Lifehack contributor Mike Bundrant wrote in the article 10 Essential Leadership Qualities That Make a Great Leader:

        “Those who lead must understand human nature, and they start by fully understanding themselves…They know their strengths, and are equally aware of their weaknesses and thus understand the need for team work and the sharing of responsibility.”

        The way to determine your leadership style is to get to know yourself and to be mindful of the feedback you receive from others. Think about the leadership lessons that were seen, sensed and shared in your family of origin. Then think about what feels right for you. Where do you gravitate and what do you tend to avoid in the context of leadership styles?

        If you are really stuck, think about using a personality assessment to shed light on your work patterns and preferences.

        Finally, the path for determining your leadership style is to think about not only what you need, or what your company values, but also what your team needs. They will give you cues on what works for them and you need to respond accordingly.

        Leadership requires flexibility and attentiveness. Contrary to unrealistic notions of leadership, being a leader is less about being served and more about being of service.

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        Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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