Have you played competitive sports? Yes, winning takes a little bit of luck, but it mostly requires skill.
In this new era of job search, you need to be the best. To win a job today, you can have no unforced errors, you need practice and preparation, and you must be “on your game” at all times.
Most job seekers forget the feeling, the emotion and the discipline required to compete for employment. While there are jobs available in the market today, more people are applying per job than ever before. It’s really competitive out there!
As an ex-nationally-ranked tennis player and 30-year veteran of the job search process, I’ve been there! Here are three things I recommend you do to insure you are ready to win:
1. Prepare to compete
Both emotionally and physically, you need to get ready to compete.
Emotionally, decide if you are 100 percent committed or if you will just dabble in the search part-time. If you are totally committed, what amount of time will you dedicate to your job search and what other things will you give up to find that time in your calendar?
Many of you are currently employed or are job-searching within your own company, so you will need to slot time during the evenings and weekends.
And those of you who are not working right now probably have obligations to family or charities, making time equally challenging. If you are not working and have no additional time obligations, you should spend a minimum of 20-30 hours a week on your job search.
Physically, you should be getting plenty of sleep and exercise. And you should stand and sit up straight all the time in preparation to compete. Get your haircut, check out the clothes you have in case you get called to meet a network contact, and shine your shoes (no, not your workout shoes).
2. Build your job-search playbook
No athlete, musician or chess player goes out to compete without having a few strategies. In tennis, a player thinks about her serve and approach shots. A football team studies its opponent and decides what plays to run against it — and then practice those plays over and over.
Bring that back to your job search.
First, “build the field.” (If you haven’t seen the movie, Field of Dreams, do so!) Have a 3-week plan, block the time in your calendar for specific job search activities, and build your activity tracking tools.
Then, for each job opportunity that you identify, study the company’s website, compare your background to their job description, and develop your strategy to “win” the job. Have answers for the most commonly-asked interview questions and tailor your preparation to relevant insights for the buyer: the hiring manager.
3. Get pumped for game day!
Wake up early and get all of your documents in order (copies of your résumé, the job description, and notes from your interview preparation). Insure your clothes are ironed, shoes polished, and all grooming is in good order.
Be in the lobby or parking lot of your appointment location 30 minutes prior to the start time. If you’re not 30 minutes early, you are late. You can use the extra time to read over your interview question notes and the job description.
Most importantly, remember one thing:
This is NOT about YOU. It’s about the interviewer or hiring manager.
Yes, all about what they are looking for, what needs they have for a great new employee, and whether you will be a good fit in their organization.
Introduce yourself with a smile, sit up straight, and take notes. Listen more than you talk and ask great, insightful questions. Finally, express your interest and ask how you did in the interview at the end. Write or email a thank you note within 24 hours.
Be the best candidate on every level to WIN a job in today’s competitive era.