One of my favorite movies is the movie entitled Rudy. Rudy was about a high school student that desperately wanted to play football at the University of Notre Dame. Unfortunately, Rudy did not have the money or the grades to qualify for a scholarship. In addition, Rudy lost his best friend in a car accident. He also had a learning disability, dyslexia, which made the pursuit of his dream difficult. However, Rudy did not allow any of his challenges to hinder him from pursuing his dream. Rudy applied to Notre Dame, but he was initially denied. After several attempts, Rudy was finally admitted into the University of Notre Dame. Not only did he make it into Notre Dame, but he eventually became a part of their football team.
Like Rudy, we may have difficulties in the pursuit of our professional aspirations. The process of obtaining a job can be challenging. In today’s economy, there are a vast number of applicants for positions, while the number of vacancies is limited. Like Rudy, it is essential that we focus on the means (the steps) that will get us to our desired end. We have to keep our eyes on the end result; not on the challenges that we may encounter on our journey to our destination.
For most, the journey for finding a job starts with the application process because they are merely intent on getting a job rather than identifying the right job. The application submission should not be the first step in your journey. Before you start applying, there are several steps that you should follow to ensure that you arrive at the right destination.
Define Your Qualifications and Skills
The first step in getting to your desired destination is performing a personal assessment of your qualifications and skills. Begin by compiling a list of any formal education or training that you have received, your past work experience and skills that you have developed over the years. Be sure to include not only diplomas or degrees, but also any certifications you may have received.
Review your list of education and past experience and think about the skillset needed to perform each task. Simply because you did not have the title does not mean that you did not acquire or utilize the skill. For example, you may not have been a Customer Service Representative but that does not mean that you did not develop the skillset of customer service. This skill could have been developed by working with either internal or external customers.
After you have compiled your lists, ensure that your cover letter and resume adequately convey all of the benefits you have documented.
Document Your Goals
Write down the vision that you have for your professional career. Include both your short-term and long-term goals. Short-term goals are those that you can achieve within a relatively short period of time (i.e., the next week, month or year). These are the goals that you can begin taking steps toward immediately.
Conversely, your long-term goals include those that may take a little longer to attain (i.e., two to ten years). Short-term goals are usually used to support or bring your closer to your long-term goals. Short-term goals are the building blocks upon which your long-term goals are built. For example, if you plan to get a secondary degree, which may require three years of school, this could be a long-term goal; whereas applying to school could be your short-term goal.
As you develop your goals, they become a road map to assist you in reaching your destination. When you are considering options, determine if your choices are in line with your goals and ultimately will lead you towards or away from your destination.
Do Your Research
Utilize your resources to research companies. Your search should include general information about the company, including the products and/or services they offer, its history and culture, the organizational mission, vision and goals, and where it is headquartered, as well as other locations it may have. Additionally, you should investigate items related to employment issues including, career paths, advancement opportunities, employer benefits, diversity and inclusion initiatives, and other human resources functions. Find out how others view the company as a place to work.
The internet is a great vehicle for performing research. Additionally, you can reach out to and inquire of those within your networks – friends, family, business acquaintances, etc. Social media can also provide insight about others’ views of their current employers and the benefits offered by them.
Your research should include identifying companies that can benefit from your skills and those that can assist you in attaining both your short-term and long-term goals.
Identify Companies that Can Benefit from Your Skills
Now that you know the benefits that you have to offer an organization and your personal goals, narrow your search by focusing on those that can benefit from your skills.
Identify Companies that Can Assist You in Attaining Your Goals
You also want to identify industries and companies that align with your personal goals. Before you apply for any job, do not only consider what you can give to the company, but also what you desire to receive from the company. For example, if you have a desire to go back to school, but you have limited resources, research companies that provide tuition reimbursement or educational assistance. If you have a felony charge in your past, research companies that offer opportunities to felons.
Deliver Yourself Properly
Now that you have narrowed your search to the companies that can benefit from your skills and those that align with your goals, it’s time to begin applying.
The first view that a prospective employer sees of you is your cover letter. Ensure that the first impression is the best impression. Your cover letter should give them a reason to want to know the man behind the paper. Deliver a cover letter that allows them to know how driven and passionate you are. They should gain a sense of what benefits you will bring to their organization to assist them with achieving their corporate goals. Pull the pieces of your education, experience and expertise together so that they understand how they have prepared you for the position for which you are applying.
In addition to the cover letter, ensure that you have a well-written resume. Ensure that it includes all of the necessary layers, including education, experience, expertise (skills), etc. Constantly review and edit your resume to ensure that it clearly aligns with the job description for the position for which you are applying. With modern technology and online submissions, many companies utilize applicant tracking systems that weed out numerous applicants by looking for keywords. If the keywords are not identified, many qualified candidates may be excluded; including you! Modify your resume before each submission to include the appropriate key-words.
Be willing to invest in yourself by having your resume professionally prepared and/or edited. The role of a professional resume writer is not to simply typeset your resume. The primary benefit of a professional resume writer is their ability to define, position, and promote your education, experience and expertise and ultimately direct your career path.
Dress the Part
When you show up for the interview, ensure that you are properly dressed. Regardless of the position for which you are interviewing, you should always present your best. Don’t dress for where you are today, but dress for the position that you desire to have. An interview is a professional meeting and you should look the part. Your appearance and your attire can have a positive or negative impact on how successful you are in obtaining the job. It is essential to always dress and properly groom yourself. These are important components of getting to the desired end.
Dissect the Offer
After you receive a job offer, review it to ensure that it aligns with your defined goals. You should not make a decision simply based on the amount of money offered. But, make a decision based on how satisfying the position will be, as well as, how it will assist you in achieving your ultimate goals.
Delight in the Journey
The job may not be your final destination. It may simply be a stepping stone that will lead to your destination; or a means to the end. However, you should enjoy each experience and learn necessary tools from each step along the way. Realize that you should always have a new destination in view. After you achieve one goal, be sure to set the next goal to which you should aspire.
Identifying the right position can be challenging. The key is to ensure that you define your destination before you start the journey. The journey of the steps defined above can assist you with reaching the desired end. Although challenges may arise along your journey, you must have the tenacity like Rudy to keep moving forward. After you achieve one milestone, be willing to refine and redefine your next goal.
Caryl R. West, MBA is a Human Resource Professional and Financial Executive with demonstrated abilities in strategic and project management. He is familiar with all aspects of human resource management, including policy development, recruitment, employee relations, performance management, compensation, benefits administration, payroll, organizational development and training. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from Indiana University and an MBA with a concentration in Human Resource Management from Indiana Wesleyan University.