Friday, April 27, 2018

7 Ways to Slay Your Interview and Job Hunt


Time to get real for a second: whether you are getting ready to graduate college, you just lost your job, or you need a change in your career, interviewing for a new job can be intimidating. No one enjoys being judged on their life decisions and previous career moves.

As someone who has graduated college semi-recently and has been forced to job hunt on a couple of occasions, I've learned so much about my industry and how I, personally, fit in. While not everyone who reads this post is going to be a female civil engineer, I believe that the tips I'm about to share are universal and can be applied in many different situations.

While I may not know you personally, I want you to succeed in everything you do. That being said, you are allowed to have your own opinions about what is appropriate for your situation. Definitely feel out your surroundings and proceed with caution.

     Motivate yourself.
If you're currently in a position where you aren't happy, ask yourself how much longer you can deal with that. From personal experience, if only dedicating part of yourself to your job hunt, you're not going to turn over results as fast if you aren't "all in". Leaving my previous job was probably the best thing to happen to me because it allowed me to dedicate all my time to finding my next step. In my short time unemployed, I spent numerous hours in Starbucks sending out applications, scheduling interviews, and networking.

While I don't encourage you to leave your current position without a back up plan, it is always something to evaluate. If you have money saved up and can take a break in employment, think about how you can benefit from having the extra time.

     Do your research.
Start off with knowing the position you are applying for. Read the qualifications and the responsibilities. Brush up on your knowledge about the company. It is a smart idea to know some of the projects that the company or team works on. Figure out where your position would fit in the company structure.

I've found it helpful to write things that stand out to me on my notepad that I bring with me to interviews, that way I can have my own talking points. While the interviewer might explain a lot to you during the interview, the chance of you remembering it all is very slim. Taking notes and having your own input will make you seem engaged, something that companies look for. Plus, knowing that you've taken time to bring your own knowledge might interest the interviewer.

     Know your worth.
For real, confidence is key. When you walk into an interview, you should know exactly what you are willing to accept, even if they don't talk salary on the first interview. A good idea would be to look up similar positions at similar companies and "price match" based on your qualifications. Glass Door is a great site for salary searching. Sometimes, you can even find the company you're interviewing for and see what the salary range is for your exact position.

Pro tip: don't take bonuses into account when salary is negotiated. Most bonuses are performance based and you don't want to sell yourself short. Oh yeah, don't forget to add "tax". Because you are worth it.

     Wear what you feel comfortable in.
Again, I repeat, confidence is key. You shouldn't feel like you need to hide your personality when dressing up for an interview. As a female engineer, I was always told how I "should" dress for interviews: black dress pants, black blazer, button down shirt, no makeup, hair pulled back... pretty much as un-girly as possible.

While I do think that there is a level of "appropriate", I am a firm believer that letting your personality show is not a bad thing. If you are the kind of girl that feels more confident in a skirt, then wear the damn skirt. If lipstick is your thing, then rock your favorite shade. (I've always wanted to be the girl to wear red lipstick to an interview, but I haven't brought myself to be that bold yet.) Colors and patterns shouldn't be a deal-breaker, but should show your future employer that you are willing to take risks.

     Be real.
I know that sounds super vague, but let me explain. There is nothing more disappointing than finding out that someone isn't what they appear to be. You may think that people can't see through your facade, but they can. The more real you are with people, the more real they are going to be with you. If you're not "feeling" the position based on something said during the interview, make your opinion known. This way, you don't waste the company's (and your) time.

     Don't play the victim.
You can blame it all you want on that class you hated in high school, the horrible college professor that failed you, or the company that didn't want to invest time in you. Instead of making excuses in front of your potential new employer, take those little "failures" and put a spin on them. Tell them how those "inconvenient" events molded you into the person you are today. If you have a more positive outlook on situations, no matter how unfortunate, people will notice.

Being who I am, I tend to be more optimistic, even in the most unfortunate situations. On my resume, there is a time gap between July 2016 and September 2016. Remember when my apartment flooded? Explaining what I was doing during that time sometimes hits a nerve, just because I was at my lowest point mentally. While I was suffering, I took the time to reevaluate my life and build myself up, which is what I explained in this blog post. When I've explained this to interviewers, they tend to appreciate that I don't complain about the inopportune moments. One interviewer even mentioned how he found my blog and was looking specifically for me to say something (anything) negative, which he couldn't find. People like positivity, so don't blame the world for something you can't change.

     Bring questions.
At the end of every interview, after asking you a ton of questions, they will ask you if you have any questions for them. Don't be the person who doesn't engage! Ask the interviewer questions about themselves. (People love talking about themselves.) Ask questions about the company atmosphere and your future team. Ask about company growth and potential projects that you would be working on. Talk as if you are a member on their team, it makes it easier for them to envision it. The more you ask, the more interested you seem, and their answers might help you make a decision if you are in the situation where you have multiple offers.


     Bonus tip:
Utilize your resources. If you don't have a LinkedIn account, make one. My mother encouraged me to make one when I was a senior in high school, and it baffles me that there are people my age who still don't have one. You're missing out on so many professional connections. If you're job hunting, there is a setting you can turn on for recruiters to find you. There is also a portion of the website dedicated to job hunters and potential openings. Don't be afraid of having too many interviews. The more options, the better.

I'm here to tell you that it's not always going to be easy, but there are ways to make it more enjoyable. There is seriously nothing more rewarding than having that job offer (or multiple offers).

I wish you the best of luck in your job hunt. Remember, I'm your biggest cheerleader.

(Shoutout to Greg Cooper Photography for taking these amazing photos in downtown Columbus OH.)

5 comments :

  1. Thank you for this! I am in the process of looking for a new job and this was just the motivation I needed!

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  2. Awesome post and great advice! Resigned from my position a few months ago, had cash saved up from a few good years of sales. Been nice to relax and re-calibrate and figure out the next step and career change. Getting close.

    And that last pic, whoa! Booty-booty-booty-booty rockin' everywhere!

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  3. Such good advice no matter what career you’re looking for. Thanks for sharing!

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