You really want a job. You may not be the perfect candidate on paper – you don’t have the ‘preferred years of experience’ – but it’s a perfect role for you.
Most people would submit a resume and pray for an interview, where they’ll spit cookie-cutter answers to questions. They think if they just follow the process, good things will happen.
In reality, there are hundreds of applicants for the role you want, so you can’t just follow the process. If you really want the job, you must take bold action to stick out!
Here’s are hacks you should use to land your dream job, from Shaan Puri.
Get your paper in the small stack.
A job opening is published online and hundreds of applications pile in. The hiring manager goes through the high stack of resumes, selects a few that look good, and responds to those applicants. What are the odds that YOUR resume will stand out among that stack? Not good.
Next to this high stack of resumes sits a much smaller stack. These are the resumes of applicants who got referred by an employee at the firm. Most of these applicants will get an interview because the hiring manager trusts that stamp of approval from another employee.
The best chance of getting past this first checkpoint and getting an interview is to get a referral. Get in the small stack of papers. The best part: employees get thousands of dollars in bonuses for referring people, so they want to do it!
If you know someone at the firm, great, reach out to them and ask for a referral. If you don’t know someone at the firm, it’s time to network. Use LinkedIn to see who works at the company from your school, your past firm, or your hometown. Reach out to 5 of them and ask for a call to talk about the firm, position, and their experience there.
This is your first phone interview… tell them why this job is perfect for you and how you’ll help the company. If the call goes really well and you’ve made a connection, ask how they’re able to help you land this dream job. Most of the time, they’ll refer you! Again, they’ll get a bonus if you land the job! It’s a win-win.
Manage the interview.
You got referred and landed an interview. Most people go into the behavioral interview and are nervous because they don’t know what they’ll be asked. They’re afraid they’ll stutter and stumble over a question.
The truth is that interviewers don’t actually judge you on your answer to their exact question. They ask questions just to get to know you.
You have to manage what they hear about you in the interview. You can’t walk away saying “Damn, I never got to tell them about…” No matter what they ask, you must manage the story they hear.
First, you have to talk about yourself.
“Tell me about yourself.”
This is your chance to kick off the interview with a bang. The other candidates will bore the interviewer by listing off their resumes, but you will tell a story. The interviewers are interested in you the human, not you the resume.
Every good story has a transformation. Here’s a good template for your story: “I was born to blah blah. My whole life I wanted to become a blah because both my parents are that. Then I had blah experience and figured out I was really good at talking to people, so it transformed me to want to be an account executive. So I went to college and since then I’ve been accomplishing blah. Now I want to be challenged/make an impact which led me here!”
“Tell me about a time….”
You can’t prepare for these exact questions, so come in with 3 stories you want to tell.
- When you overcame an unexpected obstacle. You/your team were doing great, all of a sudden something happened, and here’s how you overcame it. Could be anything! Maybe your ice cream shop’s fridge stopped working.
- When you dealt with a team issue/people issue. Someone kept showing up late to work, someone was overstressed so you asked your boss to lessen her load, someone wasn’t contributing to the school project. How did you notice it and take action to fix it?
- When you found and executed a new opportunity. The world looked to be this way, but you saw something else, so you went a different direction and it worked.
You’ll be waiting for questions that tee you up to knock these stories out of the park. People remember stories, not facts, and these will wow them!
Next, you have to talk about the company.
You should come in with an understanding of what the company’s good AND bad at. Go above and beyond – use their product, look up their financials, talk to their customers, etc.
Incorporate these observations into your answers so they know you’re a) proactive and b) interested in the company. Come in and say, “I talked to 5 of your customers, do you want to hear what they said?”
You have to ask them questions.
It’s part of the test. They’re judging you based on this, so don’t ask cookie-cutter questions.
If you’re like most people, you’d ask how YOU will benefit from this job – “what will my hours be like, what’s your vacation policy.” To stick out, ask how you can be successful at this company.
“If you look forward 1 year from now and whoever you hire for this role is doing an awesome job, what do you picture them doing that makes them so good at their job?” This lets them know you’re focused on helping them be successful, and it helps you figure out what the role consists of. Be team-first!
Finally, reel in the offer!
Now you’ve nailed the interviews and they’re excited about how perfect you are for the role. It’s time to reel in the job offer…
Follow up strong! Don’t just thank them, but also provide value to them. “I enjoyed our conversation, and check out this article (related to what we talked about) for a customer acquisition strategy that could be valuable to your company.”