Working out strategies to attain success is a necessary exercise for anything that we do in life and work. The salesperson understands that he needs a saleable product in order to make sales and build more sales from that point on. The teacher needs to prepare and strategize the lesson to ensure that her students excel. The same would apply in your job search.
Here are a few quick strategies that you can practice and adapt in your job hunting journey.
1. Understanding the company culture
Big companies have their fundamental values in their website. A company’s website and their social media presence is the best place to start your study of what that company is like. You can learn things such as:
A) Their values: You can find this spelled out in their mission statement.
B) Their passions: What they are involved in other than their business such as philanthropy or corporate social responsibility. Maybe they are passionate about education so they sponsor students for further education, provide training for employees or give to charity.
C) Their product line: You can see their top products and other R&D.
D) Their many pain points: Perhaps you’re being hired because of one of these pain points.
E) Their future plans: Any upcoming plans, or where they are heading as well as partnership and joint ventures.
From these data points, you can conduct a good measure of self preparation. Try aligning yourself to their values and if you can share the same passion as them, then perhaps you are a good culture fit. Try engaging them on social media and quite soon, you might become “friends” or “contacts” and a relationship could be formed. You could have conversations about work and solutions to pain points. This is the strategy. If you are not passionate about being a part of them, or being able to address at least some of their pain points, then it’s obvious that you aren’t that one perfect fit that they are looking for. You’re also better off working somewhere else, where the culture is more in line with your own passion.
As much as you match the job description, the culture fit matters too. In many cases, getting hired is much more than having the right experience and answering questions. Therefore, do the research and find that company that you can align with as much as possible so you may stand a much better chance.
2. Be attractive to them
Again, based on your research about the company, be the one that understands their pain points and how to solve them. If you can understand the general business challenge that a certain company is constantly facing, and can recommend your solutions, you become the cure to that pain, the right fit. Articulation is the key here and there are two styles of addressing concerns or questions. The first is the student approach. The way a student answers a teacher. The second one is the presenter approach, much like a consultant who is able to sell themselves.
We prefer the consultant approach, a person well versed in his field. All this will get you closer to getting that job.
3. Body language
- A few years ago, the Cognitive Group for Microsoft Talent Solutions presented the following study on body language do’s and don’ts at interviews.
a) Body Posture. People sit and slouch or fold their arms. This posture signals that you’re smaller, wrapping yourself up showing that you’re defensive and nervous. To counter this, sit up, lean forward from the waist and straighten up your body as this shows that you are engaged and interested.
b) Stop moving about in your chair, changing positions and fidgeting with your fingers or with your shirt. This shows you’re nervous and anxious. Instead, slow your breathing down. This will slow down your heart rate and you will appear relaxed and calm. Nervousness would certainly disengage you from having meaningful conversations in the course of the meeting.
c) Keep your hand gestures steady. Use them only to emphasize points with your palm facing up. An upward palm shows honesty and trustworthiness while touching your heart signals a genuine intent. Then we have “steepling” which is putting both palms together like praying, but just touching the fingertips. This is a sign of confidence. However, clasping your hands is a sign of anxiety.
d) Mirroring the Interviewer. Perhaps you’ve learnt about this before. Mirroring the interviewer should be done very subtly. Mirror their hand movements and gestures but always waiting about ten seconds to do so. Mirroring their speech, the language they use and jargon as well as sound and intonation as people are at ease and trust those who are similar to themselves. You’re more likely to build rapport with them as a result.
e) Eye contact. This one is very important as it asserts your confidence. Looking down or away is the opposite of confidence and is a big no-no. Instead of staring at their eyes, alternate your gaze to between their left and right eyes and mouth every few seconds. As for panel interviews, you have to look at everyone but mainly on the person speaking to you.
f) Avoid lying signals. For this, avoid touching your face, nose, ears etc. These are all signs that suggest to the interviewer that you’re being dishonest when answering questions.
g) A good handshake. The handshake is the unspoken word that initiates conversations in any social or professional meeting. Too firm a handshake is too dominant. Too weak and you seem under confident. You should initiate the handshake and match the interviewer’s grip for 1-2 seconds, smile and say their name.
Practice these easy steps and improve your body language.
4. A good attitude, personality and disposition
Interviewers who have met dozens of candidates know how to separate desirable candidates from the ones that aren’t, particularly in their manner of communication. Again, qualifications and experience isn’t everything. They want to know if they can work with you and vice-versa. A person with a good attitude as opposed to someone who appears negative and difficult always wins the day as they are the right fit.
Understanding and using all the above strategies are no doubt unavoidably important for you as you wade through this very competitive job market in our time. There will be times when you will feel lost but that feeling is actually the need for focus. Many job opportunities may have been lost as a result. What you need is a partner to sharpen that focus. Our career advisors will take you by the hand and teach you further on how to engage with interviewers with the right things to say.
To learn more on this subject, read up our earlier post, “Three areas of preparation for your job search” and “Building a strong portfolio to attract employers”.