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12 Tactics Smart Job Applicants Never Told You

12 Tactics Smart Job Applicants Never Told You

Do job applicants even know how to apply to companies anymore?

Apparently not because Internet job boards still exist, and people still create cover letters.

I remember wondering when employers didn’t respond to me and I could never make it to the second interview. But then I worked in a recruiting position for five months and had a period where I went through ten jobs in several years to find one that fit my skills perfectly. I had all the odds against me to land another job: considered a job-hopper, poor work references, and a startup spirit.

Even so, I continued to land job after job using specialized tactics that I knew worked. Many of them are common sense, but sometimes you just have to hear it from someone who’s gone through the job applicant path ten times over.

If you’re looking for a job, here are the twelve tactics smart job applicants never told you.

1. They know Internet job boards have the worst jobs.

Great companies don’t waste their time posting on internet job boards. They compensate with their brand. Ambitious job seekers will naturally go to their websites or companies looking for the job application process. It’s an easy way to weed out those who are determined and those who are not.

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For small companies without a brand and a ton of potential, you can find them on AngelList and Crunchbase.

Keep in mind, applying using Internet job boards keeps you as just another faceless resume and cover letter. The truth is your personality is everything when finding a job that will fit you, so if you’re just another resume, you’re not applying the right way.

2. They don’t admit to being a job-hopper; they just say they’re a freelancer.

Employers still frown upon job-hopping. Even in today’s fast-paced world with constant innovation, and the need to switch projects quickly, they want someone who will be committed.

At almost every interview I’ve had, they’ve asked me if I’m a job-hopper. I simply reply, “I’ve been freelancing.” Not only does this make me seem independent, reliable, and able to complete projects without supervision, but I receive much more respect. In an instant, I’ve turned my biggest hurdle to the job process into a huge benefit.

I suggest doing some freelance work, so you’re not lying to them. There’s nothing worse than a job applicant who doesn’t speak the truth.

3. They know their best option is to walk in with their resume.

Applying for jobs online is outdated. I suggest going directly to the company with your resume. Each time I’ve done this, I’ve received numerous compliments on my courage and determination. Moreover, almost every time, I was sat down for an immediate interview.

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Companies want to hire the type of employee who’s willing to walk in and hand the boss their resume because it shows you’re willing to go above and beyond to get work done.

4. They know small growing companies don’t want the suit and tie.

When a corporation has hundreds or thousands of employees, their company culture deteriorates, and everyone begins to wear a suit and tie and look like clones. When you’re working for a small growing company and possibly right next to the CEO, they want someone who has a personality they can work with.

The suit and tie look doesn’t say anything about your personality. Moreover, the suit and tie are for those who need to cover up their lack of expertise with good looks.

5. They know wearing glasses improves their chances.

Hiring managers and employers have a biased perception on how interviewees look. I’ve received much more positive feedback when I wear glasses. Employers naturally assume I’m smarter and more reliable.

So, if you don’t have glasses, I suggest a pair of inexpensive fake ones.

6. They know employers only care about the numbers on your resume.

Fancy job titles don’t mean anything. You can invent your job title up; however, you can’t fake the numbers from completed projects. I suggest almost every line on your resume contain a number reflecting what you’ve accomplished.

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For instance, if I said I built a better customer relationship management system for our company, the employer would have no idea what that means. If I told them I had built a customer relationship management system that resulted in $40,000 more revenue and a 7% improvement in customer support satisfaction—now that’s cool.

7. They arrive with a checklist of the immediate value they can provide.

I’ve landed several jobs by sending the hiring manager a thirteen-page write-up on what I can do for the company once I start. If they know you can provide immediate value, then they are less likely to hesitate to hire you. This tactic has won a job for me fifty percent of the time. It’s an all-in method, but the employers give you tremendous respect.

8. They join companies with less than twenty employees if they’re looking for growth.

I don’t care if the corporation you work for is Facebook, Apple, or Google. If you’re the fifty thousandth employee there, then you’re the fifty thousandth employee in a corporate environment with little room for growth. I’ve worked with people who held jobs at all three of these companies, and I’ve learned more in a year of working for a small company than they learned in several.

The reason: The earlier you’re in a company, the more risk you have to take and more responsibility you must pick up. Both of these factors quickly push you up the learning curve. It’s harder but well worth it.

9. They know networking will always be the best way to land a job.

I know many entrepreneurs who skipped out on college because they receive incredible jobs purely through networking. They opted out from creating their resume to create a blog with a list of their projects and accomplishments.

Also, they attend numerous industry events where high-end players are immediately interested in speaking to them because of their enormous ambition for their age. When you’re the only person at a networking event under the age of twenty-five, people take good notice.

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10. They know cover letters are for those who don’t have exceptional qualifications.

You don’t need to bring a cover letter if you’re applying in person because you can quickly recite everything on that piece paper in a couple of minutes. So, if you created a cover letter and are wondering why you haven’t received a job offer, it’s because you’re applying in channels that require that piece of paper.

Remember, you’re a human being, not two sheets of scribble. If you can find ways to reach out to companies and show them that you’re not part of the line outside their front door, then they’ll show you respect. Job seeking is all about perception.

11. They understand that traditional resumes won’t exist shortly.

By 2020, freelancers are expected to make up 50% of the workforce. Freelancers don’t have traditional resumes; instead, they have an online portfolio and excellent networking skills. These are the must haves to land a job in the next three to five years.

12. They believe corporate culture is more important than pay.

If you don’t like your fellow employees or your boss, you’ll hate your job. I’ve been there, and there are millions scared to leave this position because they might not land another job.

According to research, just 40 percent of U.S. employees trust their companies to keep their commitments; 52 percent don’t trust what their management tells them; 67 percent “do not identify with or feel motivated to drive their employer’s business goals.”
Sounds pretty awful, right?

If you’re looking to stay employed with a company for the long run, I suggest putting corporate culture first in mind. There’s nothing worst than working forty plus hours for a job you’re slow to get up for in the morning.

Most of all, continue to believe in yourself because your biggest obstacle is a lack of confidence.

Good luck on your job search!

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Published on March 20, 2019

How to Write a Powerful Mission Statement for Your Business

How to Write a Powerful Mission Statement for Your Business

Have you ever felt lost in the minutia of your job?

As a business owner, I can relate to getting bogged down in the day to day operations of my business. Things like inventory, payroll, scheduling, purchasing and employee management take up the bulk of my day.

While these things are important and need to get done, focusing too much on the details can make you lose sight of the big picture. This is why having a good mission statement comes in handy.

What is a Mission Statement?

Put simply, a mission statement is an internal document that provides a clear purpose for the organization. It provides a common reference point for everyone in the organization to start from.

In other words, after reading your company’s mission statement, managers and employees should be able to answer the question “What are company’s main objectives?” For example, Southwest Airlines mission statement reads:[1]

“Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.”

In this single statement, Southwest conveys the company’s goals of providing the highest level of customer service as well as providing a good working environment for their employees.

Mission Statement VS. Vision Statement

While the mission and vision statements are related, there are subtle but distinct differences the you should be aware of.

First of all, a mission statement is designed primarily as an internal company document. It provides clarity and direction for managers and employees.

While there’s nothing wrong with sharing your company’s mission statement with the outside world, its intended audience is within the company.

While a mission statement provides a general framework for the organization, the vision statement is usually a more inspirational statement designed to motivate employees and inspire customers. Going back to Southwest Airlines, their vision statement reads:[2]

“To become the world’s most loved, most flown, and most profitable airline.”

This statement inspires good feeling from the customer while motivating the employees to achieve that vision.

What Does a Good Mission Statement Look Like?

When coming up with a mission statement, it’s important to take your time and do it right. Too often, people (especially entrepreneurs) just write down the first thing that comes to mind and they end up with worthless or (worse yet) a generic mission statement that is utterly useless.

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Remember, a mission statement should provide a common framework for everyone in your organization.

When writing a mission statement, you should always try to incorporate the following;

  • What we do?
  • How we do it?
  • Whom do we do it for?
  • What value are we bringing?

Now, you can see how tempting it is to just come up with something generic that ticks off those four boxes. Something like “We provide the best widgets available online for the consumer.”

After all, that did check off all the boxes:

What we do? Provide widgets.

How we do it? Online.

Who do we do it for? The consumer.

What value we bring? The best widgets.

The problem with this mission statement is that it could apply to any number of companies producing the same widget. There is nothing to distinguish your company or its widgets from any of your competitors widgets.

Compare that mission statement to this one:

“We provide the highest quality widgets directly to the consumer at an affordable price backed up with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If our clients aren’t 100% satisfied, we’ll make it right.”

What’s the difference?

Both mission statements answer all the same questions of what, how, whom and value. But in the second statement, they are differentiating their company from all other competitors by answering the question “what makes us unique”.

Another way to read that is, “Why you should buy from us.” In this example, it’s because our widgets are of the highest quality and we stand behind them 100%.

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You might have noticed the statement didn’t say that we sell widgets at the lowest possible price. That’s because we are emphasizing quality and satisfaction over price.

A different company’s mission statement may emphasize selling widgets at the lowest possible price with little to no mention of a guarantee.

Hallmarks of a Good Mission Statement

1. Keep It Brief

Your mission statement should be no longer than three sentences. This is not your company’s magnum opus.

You should be able to distill the what, how, who and why questions into a succinct message.

2. Have a Purpose

A company’s missions statement should include the reason it even exists.

Make clear exactly what the company does with statements like “We strive to provide our customers with …….”

3. Include a “How”

Take this as an opportunity to differentiate your company from its competitors.

How do you provide a product or service that’s different or better than how your competitor provides it?

4. Talk About the Value You Bring to the Table

This is where you can really set yourself apart from the competition. This is the “why” customers should buy from you.

Do you offer the lowest prices? Fastest delivery? Exceptional customer service? Whatever it is that sets you apart and gives your particular products, services or company an advantage talk about it in the mission statement.

5. Make Sure It’s Plausible

It’s okay to shoot for the stars just to settle for the moon, but not in a mission statement.

Being overly ambitious will only set you and your employees up for failure, hurt morale and make you lose credibility. You will also scare away potential investors if they think that you are not being realistic in your mission statement.

6. Make It Unique and Distinctive

Imagine if someone who knew nothing about your business walked in and saw how it was operating, then they read your mission statement. Would they be able to recognize that mission statement was attached to that business? If not re-work it.

7. Think Long Term

A mission statement should be narrow enough so that it provides a common framework for the existing business, but open enough to allow for longer term goals. It should be able to grow as the business grows.

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8. Get Feedback

This is very important, especially from managers and employees.

Getting their input can clarify how they currently see the company and their role within the organization. It’s also a good way to get people “on-board,” as studies show that people are more likely to go along with an idea if they feel included in the decision making process beforehand.

9. Review Often and Revise as Necessary

You should review the missions statement often for two reasons.

First, as a reminder of what the essence of the company is. It’s easy to forget when you are in the day to day grind of the business.

And two, to make sure that the mission statement is still relevant. Things change, and not everything can be anticipated at the time a mission statement was written.

For example, if a mission statement was written before the advent of the internet, a company that use to sell things door to door now probably has a website that people order from. You should always update the mission statement to reflect these changes.

The Value of Mission Statements: Why Go Through All of These in the First Place?

It may seem like a lot of work just for a few sentences that describe a company, but the value of a well written mission statement should not be discounted.

First of all, if you are an entrepreneur, crystallizing the what, how, whom and value questions will keep you focused on the core business and its values.

If you are a manager or other employee, knowing the company’s basic tenants will help inform your interactions with both customers and colleagues alike.

Strategic Planning

A relevant mission statement acts as a framework for strategic planning. It provides guidance and parameters for making strategic decisions for the future of the company.

Measuring Performance

By having the company’s mission in a concrete form, it also allows for an objective measurement of how well the organization is meeting its stated goals at any one time.

Management can identify strengths and weaknesses in the organization based on the criteria set forth in the mission statement and make decisions accordingly.

Solidifying the Company’s Goals and Values for Employees

Part of a well run organization is nurturing happy and productive employees.

As humans, we all have an innate need for both purpose and to be part of something larger than ourselves. Providing employees with a clearly defined mission statement helps to define their role in the larger organization. Thus, fulfilling both of these needs.

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Now I’m not saying that a mission statement can overcome low pay and poor working conditions, but with everything else being equal, it can contribute to a happier and more productive workforce.

To Hold Management Accountable

By creating a mission statement, a company is publicly stating its highest values and goals for the world to see. By doing so, you are inviting both the public and your employees to to scrutinize how well the company lives up to its ideals.

So if you state that you only provide the highest quality products, and then offer something less, it’s fair for both the public and the employees to question, and even call for a change in management.

If management doesn’t take the mission statement seriously, no one else will either; and the legitimate authority that management rely’s on will be diminished.

To Serve as an Example

This is the opposite side of the coin from the previous statement. If the highest levels of management are seen taking the mission statement seriously and actively managing within the framework of the statement, that attitude filters down throughout the organization.

After all, a good employee knows what’s important to their boss and will take the steps necessary to curry favor with them.

Finally, use the company’s mission statement as a way to define roles within the company. You can do this by giving each division in the company a copy of the mission statement and challenge the head of each division to create a mission statement for their respective departments.

Their individual mission statements should focus on how each department fits in and ultimately contributes to the success of the company’s overall mission statement. This serves as both a clarifying and a team building exercise for all parts of the organization.

Final Thoughts

Developing a mission statement is too often just an after-thought, especially for entrepreneurs. We tend to prioritize things that we perceive will give us the biggest “bang for our buck.”

Somehow, taking the time and effort to sit down and think seriously about the what, whom, how and value of our business seems like a waste of time. After all, we got in the business to make money and become successful, isn’t that all we need to know?

That mindset will probably get you started okay, but if you find yourself having any success at all, you’ll find that there really is such a thing as growing pains.

By putting in the time and effort to create a mission statement, you are laying the groundwork that will give you a path to follow in your growth. And isn’t building long term success what we are really after?

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Featured photo credit: Fab Lentz via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Southwest Airlines: About Page
[2] Fit Small Business: 10 Vision Statement Examples To Spark Your Imagination

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