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Monday, August 08, 2005

Job Hunting - Proper Preparation

When you are in the company of someone who is more knowledgeable than you, do yourself the favour of shutting up and listening. You will gain respect. And you will gain information and knowledge faster.

Take note of compliments, commendations and recognition for your work. Any sales person worth their salt knows that credibility is an intangible yet crucially valuable asset. And be assured, in any job search, you are selling yourself to the job market place. Again, any such detail you present will not surface in a job reference. But in interview, it all helps to reenforce the general positive impression you want to create, as we discussed earlier.

Your personality and working style can more determine your suitability to a job than your qualifications and experience. If your personal approach doesn't fit the regime, you will be excommunicated from promotional lines. Compromising your natural style and even your integrity and values can be a difficult and unsustainable strategy. You should seek out conditions more in-tune with your own style. This brings a satisfaction that can naturally fuel your progress without extra machinations on your part.

Wake up and smell the roses before they have wilted. Keep your options open, keep your eyes on the jobs pages, and always believe you can do better than your current situation. Trust your sentiments when things don't add up. There are always a number of rational viewpoints that can delay or distort your overall judgement, but your sentiments are true. Go with them.

The first in the above list is becoming ever more evident. Flat organisational structures predominate and demarcation lines are diffuse. Whether they like you and your style can make the difference between success and stagnation.

Conversely, if you get a bad feeling about someone at interview, you can either take heed and flee or you can risk setting yourself up for a rough time if you accept the post. You can waste a lot of time and effort and end up going through the same routine again a year later. It's hard not to feel flattered and grateful when you are offered a post, but a little confidence, objectivity and
bravery could see you holding out for a better one. A tough call. Either option is a risk. You either risk spending time in a bad firm and damaging your CV or you risk losing out on an offer. It depends on your personal situation, your own needs at the time and your instincts.

Never trust your superiors. The higher up they are, the more political they are and that means ulterior motives. Have your own agenda and be aware of their hidden agendas. Prepare for a worst-case scenario. Then the only surprise you'll get is likely to be a pleasant one.

To a company, you are an expendable asset, to be used until your value runs out. They are businesses, not charities, so don't expect any. That's why you need to develop your own agenda and plan your own career. Don't rely on the company to understand, appreciate or value what you believe counts for your career. They only value what counts for them personally.

Keep notes of your work and your progress. It is proof of your value and of the value you have added to the firm. This implies to prospective employers you are capable of doing the same for them. This removes some of the risk associated with taking you on.

1. Choose the correct Location. If you want to work in an IT field, check out the area, which has more IT companies or has a major potential to be an IT hub.
2. Don't explain your life story to prospective employers and expect them to be interested in it. Pick out the relevant points and explain each from the point of view of your target.
3. Keep your studies in line with your career. You should pick an area to work in, find a company willing to offer themselves up for your studies and use this experience to apply around that same business sector. Do not simply used the course as a means to an end.

  • Accumulate as much information from each job as possible. It's all part of your experience and professional value. Get hold of quality documents, work procedures, performance reports, quality controls, work plans, in fact anything that goes into what's called "the managementsystem". This is the paperwork and documentation that keeps the business turning.
  • Make as many contacts as possible. You don't have to be best mates, but you do need to be genuine with them. Be honest and professional and they are more likely to remember you and be open with you next time you come calling.
  • Get recommendations. Even copies your annual assessments may come in useful. Things can get rather political when a company has to lose you, which can play havoc with references.
Appear impressive and you will be perceived as impressive. Perception is reality. However others perceive you, that is actually who you are, regardless of the reality you feel inside. Dress rich, they'll think you're rich. Act authoritative, they think you're in total command. And so on.

Find out what it is your target values – and give it to them. If the job requires a great deal of people work, emphasise that on your CV. Get your interview answers geared around those topics. If there's problem solving and analytical techniques needed, put that at the top. If there's detailed work involved, get hold of facts and figures to show how precise you are. And, just as importantly, keep everything else off, or at least put it after the important stuff. Every day, you are preparing for your next role. That's why you need a plan. Then you work with purpose and that purpose becomes crystal clear as you discuss your next posting. Collect those figures, keep that log, write down those compliments, collect those letters of praise, copy those charts and graphs. You did it, you keep it. It's your proof of capability, your proof of progress, your proof of direction.

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