OTJ Part 1 – You Lost Me At No

In keeping with my job search activities, I’ve decided to try and impart some of the wisdom that I’ve been learning.  I’m sure I’m not the only one searching for a job or about to be, and so On the Job was born.  This is my inaugural post in the On The Job series and after an amazing series of informational interviews, I’ve got a stack of things from hiring professionals that I’ve never even thought about.  I’ve read books, watched videos, gone to seminars and made use of the career centre at school.  The stuff I’m going to share with you ? Not in any of that that I can remember so I’d like to pay it forward.

Welcome to On The Job – I hope you find it useful !

It’s no secret to those around me that I’m a bit of a perfectionist.  I like to do things right and really don’t enjoy making mistakes. I know there is the philosophy about learning from your mistakes but blah, blah, blah.  While I benefit from the lesson learned and know that I grow from the experience, I still do not embrace the actual act of making a mistake.  This is one of the reasons I’m actively embracing the informational interview as one of my job search resources.  It is a chance to find out what mistakes to avoid so that I can avoid the complete agony of knowing I just screwed up getting a job over something really preventable.  What I’m starting to learn is what makes a ‘No”.

I’ve been interviewing for over 25 years now.  That would make me 5 when I started, of course, but then some of us are early learners.    As my confidence grew, in whatever industry I happened to be working in, so did my interview abilities.  Once I know my stuff, I can sell it like hot cakes to a hungry lumberjack with syrup on top.  I do quite a bit of research about whatever company I’m interviewing for when possible as well.  This helps to lower the mistake factor which is indispensable to me.  I think it also shows respect for the person you are interviewing with.  If they are going to take time out of their day to meet with you, I firmly believe you owe to them to have more to talk about than how pretty their website is.  Not knowing anything about the company you hope to work for ? That would sure make a “no” for me.

Putting time in on your resume is another thing that is fundamental to avoiding mistakes.  For my resume, I have checked, re-checked, edited and re-designed until I’m about to lose my mind.  I wanted a resume that highlighted my design skills, showed a bit of who I am and demonstrated quite clearly that I am a skilled communicator who is up a variety of challenges.  And then I sent it out with a spelling mistake in it.  Oh mylanta.  The mother of all mistakes.  The mistake that says quite clearly, you are not paying attention here.  I am a spelling dominatrix.  I find them in magazines, newspapers, books, websites: you name it.  But my own resume upon which I am depending to get a job ? I include a mistake.  What size of “no” do you suppose that little piece of literary genius got ? A resounding one as I did not get a phone call.

One mistake that I didn’t even think was a mistake was using the shotgun approach to applying for jobs.  Without sounding desperate, which is a mistake in and of itself I’ve discovered, the shotgun approach is a great way to shoot yourself in the foot.  How can you sell hot cakes to a hungry lumberjack when you’ve only ever given prostate exams ?  Someone is going to feel like they got the bad end of the deal and it isn’t going to be the lumberjack.  What I’m learning is that applying way outside of your expertise, regardless of your enthusiasm, is a waste of your resources and talents.  I’m not saying you won’t have success by doing this but why not capitalize on your existing talents and reduce the likelihood of a “no” ?  My background is in medicine and as much as I like to read, telling that to Harper Collins is not going to inspire them to give me a job when I’ve never worked in the publishing industry.  I’m far more likely have success selling that prostate exam to the lumberjack.

There are more “no’s” that I’d like to share with you and if you have “no’s”,  I’d love to hear them.  For me, I plan to embrace this opportunity to make mistakes and learn from those who are willing to share.  I am fortunate to have made some connections that I believe will go a long way in ending this job search sooner than later.  Then On The Job can take on a whole meaning and make no mistake, I’m looking forward to that !

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