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Landing Your Dream Job: 4 Steps to Getting Your Foot in the Door

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Landing Your Dream Job: 4 Steps to Getting Your Foot in the Door

I used to work for an elite staffing firm in Austin, Texas. All day long we screened, interviewed and placed dozens of wannabe candidates into top level career positions. My two years in the staffing industry were shocking. I could not believe how horrible most candidate’s telephone etiquette was, how unprofessionally candidate’s dressed and how sloppy their resumes were.

We had to interview and screen dozens of candidates to fill one position. Most of our selection process wasn’t based on who had the most experience, it was based on who made the best impression during the interview process. Most people blew it. I remember saying to myself many times, “Gosh, I can’t believe she wore that to an interview. I can’t believe he said that. I can’t believe her resume is so unprofessional. Doesn’t she know better?” Then I realized…no, these candidates don’t know better because nobody has ever taught them. There is no mandatory course in high school or college that teaches career development, job interview do’s and don’ts and how to nail your dream job.

So, how do you nail your dream job? If you follow the following steps, I can almost guarantee you will secure a great job and be on your way to making your dreams come true very soon.

Cathy’s story

In my five years selling insurance door-to-door I hired and trained dozens of salespeople. One lady who joined my team was Cathy. Cathy was in her mid-50’s and had decades of experience in corporate America. She worked for a company for 16 years and they abruptly shut their doors so Cathy needed a job quickly.

In sales, there are always three types of people: slow starters, medium starters and fast starters. I have learned that a lot of fast starters can crash and burn within weeks, and I have seen slow starters become record-breakers simply because they didn’t quit. Selling insurance, usually the slow starters were off to the races within 1-3  months. Cathy was a slow starter. She had a fantastic work ethic and she read positive books every night, but she still struggled.

We took her under our wing and trained and trained and trained her to help her get over the hump. She was struggling financially and had wiped out her saving to stay afloat. After an entire year of watching her struggle and never improving, my director and I decided to have a heart-to-heart talk with her and help her find a “real job”.

When I talked to Cathy she said, “I know I need a real job, but here is nothing out there. I looked for a job for almost a year before I found your company because I couldn’t get a job anywhere.” I thought, “A sharp woman with 30+ years experience can’t get a job?” I immediately knew exactly why. She was going about it all the wrong way. She was going about her job search the way 95% of Americans do.

Cathy sent me her resume. I “cleaned up” her resume and coached her on exactly what to do. She followed my advice and got a salary plus commission job within a week! Her old way of looking for a job took over a year with no results.

What is the key?

4 Important Steps to Getting Your Foot in the Door

Step 1: Know What You Want

Most people post their resume online or tell a staffing firm that they will work for any company, anywhere, that does anything. This becomes a JOB not a career. You will work there for the paycheck and then quit within a year to find the next best JOB (Just Over Broke). The first step I told Cathy to do it to make a target list of 25 companies she wanted to work for.  I told her to think of companies that had a product or service she was passionate about, companies known for stability, and relatively close to home. But what if they aren’t hiring right now? Doesn’t matter. Contact them anyways.

Cathy made a list.

What is your target list?

Step 2: The Resume

Nothing to put on your resume? No college degree? No significant work history? Guess what? I don’t have a college degree either. Yes, I am a college dropout. Guess who else is a college dropout? Three of the wealthiest and most successful entrepreneurs in the world: Bill Gates, Michael Dell and Steve Jobs. I have never been turned down for any job I have ever applied for. Only one time has anyone in an interview even asked about my education. In my 2 years at Ashby Staffing, I can count on one hand the number of employers who had specific requirements about a college degree.

Step 3: Who’s the boss?

Every company has a generic email address for resume submissions. It usually is jobs@company.com or careers@company.com. The problem submitting your resume to these generic email addresses is that you are in the company’s inbox with the 5000 other applicants. Each company has a human resources person or recruiter who sifts through the generic email box looking at resumes. Find out who that person is and send your resume directly to him/her.

All you have to do is call the company and ask the person who answers the phone, “Hi, my name is _______ . How are you today? I have a quick question for you. Who is the person in charge of hiring for your company for the ________ position? Great. What is her/his email address? (confirm that you spelled it correctly). Is there a second person who helps with the hiring as well? What is his/her email address? Great. Thank you so much for your help.”

Another great way to get information is to drop by the company in person. Simply tell the person at the front desk that you want to send something to the person in charge of the _____ position and you need his/her email address. Don’t mention that you are sending a resume because they will probably give you the crummy generic email address. Remember, always get a real person’s name and email address.

Step 4: Make it or Break it

This is the most critical step in landing your dream job. This is the step most people skip or simply don’t do. If you master this step, you will be leaps and bounds ahead of your competition. The most important step in landing an interview or job is following up! Since the internet has become so popular with these mega job placement websites like Monster.com and CareerBuilder.com, most people think the proper way to get a job is to post your resume online and then sit back and wait for the phone to ring.

This is exactly what happened to Cathy. She said for an entire year she kept posting and re-posting her resume on websites but nobody called. She had herself “out there” but never followed up. When I worked at Ashby Staffing we received so many resumes that we rarely called candidates unless they called us and followed up. When they called to follow up, we would find their resume in our inbox and see if they were a fit for any positions that were open. If they conducted themselves professionally on the phone, we always brought them in for an interview.

Once I coached Cathy how to follow up properly, she landed a job within a few days. With the number of resumes floating in cyberspace and the level of competition you face, it is critical that you are proactive in your job search.

How do I follow up? What do I say?

Three days after you have emailed your resume, call the specific person you emailed it to. When they answer the phone say, “Hi, this is _______. I am calling to follow up with you. I sent you my resume regarding the ______ position. I am an excellent candidate for that position and I wanted to see which day this week I can meet you for an interview. Would Tuesday or Thursday work better for you?”

You must be assumptive and proactive. Assume they received your resume. Assume they love you. Assume they are anxious to get you in for an interview. If they say they have not reviewed your resume yet, then pleasantly and politely say, “No problem. Today is Wednesday. I will call you back on Friday. Will two days give you enough time to review my resume? (who can say “no” to that?) Great. Again my name is ____ ____. I will talk to you this time on Friday. Have a great day.”

Repeat this process over and over. Persistence pays off. Remember to always be polite even if the company is giving you the run-around. Nobody will ever hire a person with a bad attitude.

Kate Raidt Kate Raidt is author of The Million-Dollar Parent: How to Have a Successful Career While Keeping Family a Top Priority and founder of advantage4parents.com. She is also an alumnus of the Southwestern Company's summer work program. Kate is also the mother of two young children.
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