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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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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

Feeling Stuck in Your Career? How to Break Free and Get Ahead

Feeling Stuck in Your Career? How to Break Free and Get Ahead

Have you ever caught yourself in a daydream where you’ve gone for that upcoming promotion, and you’re now the boss at work? Or how about the one where you’ve summoned up all your courage to quit a job where you’re feeling stuck in your career and live your dream instead? Or when you’ve changed career paths to do what really makes you happy?

Then, you snapped back to reality and realized that you’re not the boss, not living your dream, and not even happy in the career path that you’re on.

Over the years I’ve worked with hundreds of individuals who’ve told me they feel stuck in their careers, that something had to change for them to break free and be happy, but they lacked the confidence to take that step. My mission is to make sure that nobody feels stuck in their career because of a momentary lapse in bravery that’s dragged on for too long.

Read on to find out how you can stop feeling stuck in your career, break free, and get ahead at work. .

Here are my top ten tips for becoming unstuck in your career.

1. Make Time for You

If you’re feeling stuck, frustrated, or unhappy with how your career is panning out, the first step is to work out why.

Maybe you’ve arrived in your current career by accident and haven’t ever made time to deliberately think or plan what you’d love to do and how you’d get there.

Prioritizing time to think is the first step you need to take to stop feeling stuck and start getting ahead. Book some time into your day where you can have an uninterrupted meeting with yourself. This is your thinking time.

Work out what makes you happy at work, what doesn’t, and where you might want to go. Decide on the steps you want to take to progress your career in the direction that you want it to take.

For example, are there training days, evening courses, or online learning that you can do? Have you considered getting a mentor to help you get ahead?

By booking in a meeting with yourself, it signals it’s important (to you and your colleagues) and also stops others spotting a gap in your day and filling it with a meeting.

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2. Grow Your Network Before You Need It

Who you know is more important than what you know for career progression. Don’t wait until you’re feeling stuck in your career to start expanding your networks. Do it now.

Adam Grant, the author of Give and Take, says you’re 58% more likely to get a new job through your weak ties than through your strong ones. Your strong ties are those in your immediate circle whom you interact with often. Your weak ties are your friends of friends. They move in different circles to you, they know different people, make different connections, and are more likely to introduce you to new and different opportunities[1].

When I was thinking about setting up my current company, Lucidity, I turned up to every networking event. I drank a lot of coffees with a lot of different people to understand what they did, to ask for advice, to unpick what their problems were, and to look for opportunities for collaboration and connections.

It paid off because, when I launched my business, I let my network know how I could help them, and soon I had my first clients.

Pay attention to building and nurturing your networks and focus on how you can add value to other. That’s where your next career opportunity is most likely to come from.

3. Surround Yourself With People Who Inspire You

According to Tim Ferriss, “You are the average of the five people you most associate with,” and his associations with different people ebbs and flows depending on what he’s working on and trying to achieve[2].

For example, if you are trying to be fitter, it’s easier if you hang around with people who love doing exercise–they help you to up your game.

If you want that promotion, a career change, or to set up your own business, seek out people who are excelling at it already. They’ll have valuable things to teach you about breaking free and getting ahead.

4. Work on Your Personal Brand

Jeff Bezos defines a personal brand as “what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” People will talk about you when you are not in the room anyway, so you might as well be deliberate about what you’d like people to say!

Your personal brand isn’t about pretending to be something you’re not. That can actually keep you feeling stuck in your career. It’s really about being your best “real you.” It’s about owning your strengths and being purposeful about how you want to be perceived by others.

What do you want to be known for? By being more deliberate about how you want to come across and what you’re looking for in your career, you’ll increase your chance of attracting the right opportunities.

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Once you’ve given your personal brand some thought, make sure that you show up online. Is your LinkedIn profile up to date? And if you don’t have one, get one. Make sure it communicates what you want to be known for and that it’s consistent with your other social media profiles.

Try these 5 Steps to Master Networking Skills and Perfect Your Personal Branding.

5. Be Accountable

Achieve your career goals faster, and grow and learn by making yourself accountable. Tell other people your goals and a timeline. and have them to hold you accountable.

For example, you might want to get a promotion by the end of the year, have decided the sector you want to move to by the end of the month, or have got your new business idea before the next pay day. Whatever your ambitions are, you can tell a friend or a colleague, or share this with a mentor or a mastermind group.

When we tell other people our goals and intentions, they hold us accountable, and we are more likely to make progress faster.

6. Make Sure Your Values Are Aligned With Your Company’s

All the professional development, goal setting, and networks in the world won’t make you happy if you’re working for a company that ultimately has opposing values to yours.

Figure out what’s important to you in a job. For example, does your company’s product help people live a better life? Do you feel strongly about your company’s ethics and social responsibility? Does the company culture allows employees to be themselves and shine? Or maybe flexible working and more holidays for employees with families is where your heart is?

Some companies put their employees well-being at the core of their business; others put profits first. If you feel that your values don’t match the core values of your employer, it could be a reason why you’re feeling stuck in your career and unhappy.

It’s important to work through this and identify whether it’s the job that is not right for you, or if it’s a great job but the organization or sector is wrong for you.

7. Get out of Your Comfort Zone

Your comfort zone is your safe place. For any change to happen, you have to step out of your comfort zone.

It’s actually much easier not to change anything and to keep grumbling on about how you’re stuck and unhappy in your career than to step outside of your comfort zone to address the fearful unknowns associated with change. It’s part of human nature that we’d put up with the devil we know rather than risk the devil we don’t.

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This is true even if the devil we know is a boring, unfulfilling job because we’re wired to think that making a change to find a better option might actually leave us worse off.

If you feel stuck, it might be that your confidence has got the better of you.

To get ahead at work, start taking small steps outside of your comfort zone. Consider what you’re scared of that is stopping you from making a change. Then, tackle that in small steps.

For example, if you know that to move into the job you want, you’ll have to do more public speaking, but public speaking terrifies you so much it’s stopping you from going for the job, then start small to build your confidence. You can speak up more in team meetings, then slowly build from there.

You might also choose to set up or be part of a specific group. One of my clients, who found that confidence was holding her team back in achieving work goals, set up a “get out of your comfort zone club,” where they challenge and support each other to build their confidence by regularly leaving their comfort zones.

8. Learn to Embrace Failure

Failure is part of life. A New York University study found that children learning to walk averaged 2,368 steps and fell 17 times an hour[3]. Failure is simply the natural path to success.

The truth is that we don’t get everything right the first time. We fail, we learn, we pick ourselves up, and we try again.

In my experience, it’s common that whilst the theory of learning from failure is supported, the reality of being open about failures to enable personal learning is much harder to achieve.

We don’t like to admit that we’ve failed. We have a fight or flight response to failure. It’s a normal gut reaction to ask ourselves: “Will I get away with it if I don’t tell anyone?” We are fearful of criticism, of losing face in front of others, or even being fired for failure.

However, if you’re going to stop feeling stuck in your career, you must be open to learning from failure.

Reframe failure by viewing everything as an experiment because you can’t have a failed experiment—you just learn whether something works or not. Think of Edison inventing the lightbulb, when he said:

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“I’ve not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

9. Build Your Resilience

Resilience is the ability to tackle difficulties and setbacks, to bounce back, regroup, and to keep going.

Getting unstuck in your career, taking a different path, and achieving the results you want will take resilience. Having resilience is also the capacity to choose how you respond to the unexpected things that life throws your way and adapt and thrive in times of complex change.

Given that the world we live in is in constant flux, and the only thing that is certain is uncertainty, the ability to adapt and bounce back is an important life skill, as well as a career skill.

In her book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Angela Duckworth’s research shows that when measuring success, the ability to persevere beats talent every time.

Learn more about how to build resilience in this guide: What Is Resilience and How to Always Be Resilient (Step-By-Step Guide)

10. Ask for Help

It can be hard to ask for help, as it can make us feel vulnerable.

No one person can be expected to have all the answers. That’s why we need a group of people that we can go to for help, people who can pick us up when we have setbacks and also help us to celebrate success.

My advice is to be deliberate about creating your group. You can do that with a tool called a “Me Map”:

  1. Write down all the things that you might need support with, like help with career progression, interview practice, making new connections, talking through business plans, learning from failure, etc.
  2. Next to each thing, write the names of the people you go to when you need that particular thing.
  3. Make sure you get in touch and regularly connect with them.

Final Thoughts

You can stop feeling stuck in your career, break free, and get ahead at work by applying the tips in this article. Start small by incorporating three new things in your first week, and then adding more as your comfort zone and capacity expands.

Remember, no matter how stuck you feel, it’s never too late to make a change and land the career that you truly want.

More Tips to Stop Feeling Stuck in Your Career

Featured photo credit: NEW DATA SERVICES via unsplash.com

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