You might be better prepared to overcome "jobless depression" or use team building and collaborative brainstorming to your advantage in the workplace, but what if you've never had a job before?
The sad reality of the modern job market is that several million Americans (12.8 million people in January of 2012, according to the U.S. Department of Labor) remain statistically unemployed. But what can these jobless masses do in order to appear more valuable to employers or hiring managers, especially in comparison to the swarms of out-of-work candidates all vying for the same position?
Assuming you already have your resume or application all typed up, filled out, and looking as spiffy as possible, what do you do next? Suppose you're interested in applying at a retail store at your local mall: Do you run to the nearest GAP and turn it in at the counter? Do you set out collecting as many applications as possible, scribbling down your info, and hopping from store to store dropping off your forms?
Let's take a deeper look at the dos and don'ts of submitting your resume or application.
What Not To Do
DON'T just drop off your resume at the counter. When it comes to turning in a solid resume and application, especially one you've spent time crafting and perfecting, the worst thing you can do is toss your resume to some random employee and assume you'll actually be considered. Keep in mind that you are not the only person who's turned in a resume that day. Your goal should be to stand out, not disappear among the stacks of applications flooding in.
DON'T assume your resume or application is perfect. One of the biggest (and probably most annoying) mistakes a potential hiring candidate can make when submitting his or her application is in the proof-reading process. When a recruiter or hiring manager has to look through several hundreds of applications every day, the easiest way to weed out "unemployables" is by eliminating forms with grammatical and spelling errors.
"Remember to state clearly what you can do for a company. Be succinct, but memorable, as less is often more. Also, be sure to add specific ideas on why you are the best candidate for the position VS. your competition."
Really take the time to get input from your more grammatically-inclined friends on your resume and make sure it's up to par — chances are, they might notice a mistake that you've overlooked, or offer insight you may not have thought to include. It's always wise to have a pair of fresh eyes to go over your content.
DON'T copy or paste your "Objectives" or "Summary" section from older, generic resumes. Again, the goal of submitting your resume is to stand out from the pack. One of the easiest ways to do this is by tailoring your objectives and summary section specifically to the employer you are applying to. Be creative. Hiring managers are looking for people with passion — not for drones.
"Focus on the company you're applying to and cater to them. Most often, people just blanket their resume to a bunch of different companies that covers their experience. But a lot of people don't focus on what they'll bring to a company and how they can help. They're always looking for what the company can give them (a job). Instead, focus on what you can do for them."
DON'T pretend to be someone you're not just to get a job. Employers aren't just looking to mass-hire random candidates. They're also looking to hire people who they wouldn't mind working with or around. People gravitate towards others they can see themselves being friends with, so be friendly, be positive, and be confident — but don't be "fake".
"When I'm recruiting designers for Facebook, I look for 'design entrepreneurs': hands on builders with tremendous taste displaying an ability to execute, ship, and iterate with passion. That is, does the candidate make informed design decisions? Does he or she have sound rationale in design choices? Can the candidate explain his or her decisions concisely, and can the applicant back up his or her opinions? … Also, good taste in music is a plus."
Don't try too hard, and definitely don't oversell yourself. Not only is the employer trying to make sure that you'd make a good cultural fit for the company, but you should be looking out for yourself as well by making sure that the company is a good fit for you. Lying or pretending to be something that you're not during your interview will eventually catch up with you.
What To Do
DO ask to speak to a hiring manager. When applying for a job, again, the goal here is to stand out among the many other applicants all vying for the same position. To do this, you need to get real face-to-face time with the person or persons who are looking to bring on new talent. Ask to see a hiring manager when you go to turn in your application or resume, and if this person happens to not be there, ask when he or she will be returning so you can get your application into the right hands.
Next, set your schedule to return around that time. If you really want the job, you will make the time to return when you can see the hiring manager face to face and establish a genuine connection with the person you might be working for or with someday.
Shake the hiring manager's hand, introduce yourself by your full name, find out what his or her name is and repeat it back — construct the foundation for a future professional relationship by helping your identity stick in the employer's mind. This way, when flipping through the resumes on file, they'll pause on yours and remember you. Do not be another faceless drone.
DO get to know the other employees at the company. As important as the hiring manager definitely is in the recruitmet process, the actual employees working at the company you're applying to are just as important. These people represent the team of folks you'll be interacting with on perhaps a daily basis once your application is accepted, so take the time to get to know them, ask them how they like their jobs, and perhaps even request information on what it was like to be interviewed and hired at the company.
"At RootMusic, company culture is extremely important to us. That's why it can often be important to ask everyone at the company what they thought of the candidate, from the person who answered the door to the hiring manager. Sometimes culture is a first impression thing, almost like when you're on a date and within about 30 seconds you know if you want to go out to dinner with them."
The inside information you can pick up from these short chats with current employees is not only beneficial to the entire hiring process, but also serves to help build a pre-existing relationship between you and the employees at the company long before your start date. These relationships set the groundwork for stacking up excellent references in the event that you move on to a new position.
DO express your passion for the position you are applying to. When hiring managers are speaking to potential candidates, they are not only looking for someone who is excited to get to work, but who is also passionate about that particular position and what the company stands for. Be genuine in your response when you apply. For example, if you're desperate to work at Fry's Home Electronics because you just absolutely love computers, love working around them, and want to talk about computers all day for a living, don't be afraid to say so. Your expressed and open passion for a position is just one of the myriad of things you can do to help yourself stand out as a candidate.
Houston spoke to me again on this topic with:
"When interviewing folks in the past, I've always looked for someone with a lot of drive who is very excited about working at my company. It really annoys me when I interview people and they obviously haven't given much thought to possible ideas, or thoroughly researched the company to prepare.
If you really want a job, you'll be obsessed with having it and do anything you can to get it."
Put yourself in the recruiter's shoes: Are you more likely to hire the person who simply drops off a resume and takes off to apply somewhere else? Or would you rather hire the person who took the time to shake your hand, introduce himself, and tell you just how much he (or she) absolutely loves the idea behind your company and would be proud to be a part of your team?
While I certainly can't speak for everyone, I would lean towards the latter.
DO wear something nice to turn in your resume. When it comes to dropping off applications and resumes, often times, hiring managers and employers will conduct informal interviews on the spot. Make sure that you are in your employee-appropriate attire when dropping off your resume — no one want to hire someone wearing sweatpants (unless you happen to be applying at Sweatpants World, which, unfortunately, probably doesn't exist).
The competitive labor market is a tough and cut-throat place. If you are absolutely dedicated to nabbing a job and aggressively pursuing your professional career, it is essential that you be as prepared as humanly possible to beat out your rivals. By employing the tips above, the job-hunting process has hopefully become that much easier.
It might be nerve-wracking and scary to put yourself out there for the first time, but don't give up! These experiences are only contributing to your eventual success. We all have to start somewhere.
From the team at Identified to you, we hope this helps you get a leg up on that competition. Again, we're always here to guide you in the right direction when it comes to nabbing one sweet gig, so don't be afraid to reach out to us with your questions! You can tweet us on Twitter, shoot us a message on Facebook, or even comment on our Google+ posts – we're here to help, we love what we do, and we are always listening.
About Sherilynn “Cheri” Macale: Cheri is a 24-year-old San Francisco transplant and is Identified’s resident “Career Blogging Wizard”. She is perhaps best known for her 10+ year background in Lifestyle Blogging, and most recently for her role with The Next Web as its lead Social Media News Editor (among other professional endeavours). When she’s not rubbing elbows with the tech and gaming saturated community of Silicon Valley, you’ll most likely find her tucked away in her apartment blogging, playing video games, or immersing herself in geek culture. You can follow her on Twitter, subscribe to her on Facebook, circle her on Google+, or shoot her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.