How to get a job in a competitive industry
So, you either want to join an industry where you face lots of opposition for the jobs you want or perhaps you want to change company in an industry where you will be up against tough competition. How do you do it? In this post I’ll explain how to get a job in a competitive industry.
Firstly, if you are one of those people that fears competition and worries about challenges, you need to fix this mindset. With all the best advice in the world, it is your desire to win that is needed to get things started. Without it, you could end up being one of those people who likes to comment from an armchair on what others should and should not be doing without having ever attempted it themselves. How many people do you know like that? I know a few and in the nicest way they may speak sense, but they don’t lead by example and that is what matters.
Having a competitive mindset where you have decided upfront that you will get what you want, but just need to figure out how and being fixated on that is what you need first.
You also need to accept failure as part of competition. You will lose more times than you win on the journey to success.
“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed”. – Michael Jordan
Failure can be viewed as a positive or a negative. The word itself connotes negativity, but if you fall into the trap of retreating into your shell every time you get rejected, trust me, you’ll get nowhere. That goes for procrastination too; convincing yourself that it’s fine to put off searching and trying until you feel better in yourself. That is completely the wrong way to approach this.
Viewing rejection should be about accepting that you will fail more times than you succeed and justifying an acceptable ratio as something like 10/1 failures for every time you succeed should be seen as normal. Remember learning to ride a bike? If you gave up because you fell off you’d never learn. You learn more from your failures than your successes. Have it in your mind that you’ll need to apply for 10 different jobs to get an interview and then attend 10 different interviews to get a job. If that becomes normal in your mindset than anything better is a bonus.
The third mindset element is persistence. Keep going and do not give up. Procrastinating does not qualify as a form of persistence by the way. You need to keep at it relentlessly whilst ensuring not to cut corners or get desperate. Don’t just apply for any old job simply because you are tired of searching. Only apply for what you actually want. Otherwise you will simply end up bouncing from job to job like so many others on the jobs market.
Just in my industry…
…you will see Recruiters have a status update on LinkedIn asking you to congratulate them on securing a new job. Great right? Only for you then to see that seven or eight months earlier they’d been celebrating securing the job that they’re now leaving. Rather than actually do their homework on what they want and biding their time for the right job, they’d rather move because anything is better than where they are. I’m sure people like this may argue otherwise, but if you find your career being a job to job rollercoaster you need to review what it is that you actually want and not just make rash career decisions.
The persistence part is about relentlessly pursuing what you want, refusing to compromise on that (within reason and I’ll touch on this shortly) and not taking shortcuts or making rash decisions. That way when you finally do get the job you want you’re much more likely to stay there for years, doing what you want and being safe in the knowledge that you did right by yourself.
I did mention a slight disclaimer about refusing to compromise within reason. What I mean by that is that you need to be realistic about what it is that you want. For example, if you envisage being a Software Engineer for a major corporation and you cannot program a microwave to cook your dinner then you are in dreamland.
You must meet the minimum criteria of what is required for the jobs that you are applying for, but there is light at the end of the tunnel if you think that this could be a problem.
Most job specifications and Adverts are written, composed or heavily edited by people other than the hiring manager. And it is the hiring manager that will decide who they interview. Why is this a potential benefit?
In the nicest way people other than the hiring manager tend to add their own interpretation of what is needed for the job role. I have seen it where I am sent a job specification written by a HR Assistant requiring a degree, 6 years experience and several key skill essentials, but after speaking with the hiring manager these turned out to be irrelevant, unnecessary and exaggerated. I’ve placed roles requiring degree’s and proven industry experience with people with HNC’s and a background in a different industry altogether. The point being that people other than the hiring managers tend to get a little too carried away with requirements and essentials sometimes.
In my line of work, it is my business to spot these exaggerations and consult on what is really needed, but for job seekers it presents a confusing scenario where most of the jobs seem to be requiring god’s gift of a candidate but are offering a modest salary or hourly rate in return. I personally see this trend of exaggerating job specs and adding unnecessary essentials as a hindrance to the companies being able to hire who they want, but it’s a common practice that seems to go under the radar.
The easiest way to interpret what constitutes a realistic job to apply to is either to use your common sense and break the job spec down to the two or three core skills you think are actually needed or to simply apply for jobs that you see yourself as 7/10 skilled for. Either way, you’ll find that you’d be considered for far more jobs by reading between the lines than what the literary essentials would suggest.
Next on strategy comes the CV
I’ve written a previous post on how to write a CV in more detail:
However, for the benefit of this post I’ll explain some general guidelines.
The CV itself is the only thing that a hiring manager will see to make a judgement on whether to interview you or not. It will not secure you a job. It will not make you worth 50k more than you are physically worth. It will not elevate your status to one hand on an offer letter. It is purely a sheet of paper that represents you in a snapshot to the hiring manager and that is it. That snapshot is the difference between getting your foot in the door for an interview or not especially if you are up against lots of competition.
Two myths or mislead tactics…
…are often held or advised to candidates when looking for jobs and I want to give them a bit of a reality check.
1-Having a glitzy CV with a creative display, lots of colour and unique fonts are all things said to help your CV stand out from the crowd. In 1995 when most CV’s were faxed to a client maybe this was true, but now everything is via email and digitalised. An unseen problem is that when your CV is emailed through to a recruiter following your application they add it to what is called a CRM system (Customer Relationship Management System). In basic terms this is a computer program that stores, organises and presents all of the information about clients and candidates for a recruiter. When a recruiter sends your CV over to the client they need to put it into a PDF or Word format as that is what most computer systems can open and read. If you start using some glitzy out there styling it doesn’t tend to translate too well, can end up looking weird and will either need to be re-worked or edited anyway. Plus, a glitzy CV doesn’t have quite the same effect when viewed from an email inbox as it does in paper format. Therefore, tone it down as it’s more likely to do more harm than good.
2-Your mate, sister, mum or dad may give you advice on how to get a job in your industry without knowing anything about your industry and having any track record of success facing the same issue in the current marketplace. Yes, they’ll mean well, but if the advice they are giving is wrong you’ll be making avoidable errors and in the nicest way it probably will be. If they work in your industry and have faced the same situation as you recently, then they’ll probably offer useful advice and be worth listening to. The point being, take advice from who is qualified to give it to you accurately.
Staying on the CV strategy there are a few basic tips to consider when it comes to CV writing. Read the above link a few paragraphs up on how to write a CV for the full and beneficial details though.
1-The hiring manager or recruiter will look at your CV for no more than 10 seconds. Yes, it’s that brief. Unless you give them what they are looking to see inside 10 seconds your CV could be passed over without a second thought. They’ll have a million and one other things to do that day, be rushed off their feet and have a ton of other applicant’s CV’s to go through.
2-What they are looking to see is whether you can do the job and have the minimum (remember realistic minimum) skills to do the job. What they are NOT looking to see is that you can “work well individually both alone and in a team” and that you possess “excellent communication skills from playing in the local Sunday league football team”. Save the generic nonsense and stick to the meat and bones skills being the point here.
3-Make sure your name, number, email and address are on your CV. Hiring managers and recruiters will need to contact you and know where you live anyway so ensure you include this.
4-Change/alter the opening statement to express that you are specifically looking for the job that you are applying for and why. This doesn’t need to be War and Peace so just a paragraph with three sentences will suffice. This can seem tedious, but it works.
5-Proof Read the CV or even better than that, get someone else to proof read the CV. If you have spelling mistakes and grammatical errors it doesn’t just say “literacy mistakes”, it screams that if you can’t be bothered to get your CV right you could have the same attitude in employment.
Another area of strategy is not just to rely on one recruitment agency to find you a job. Use various agencies and discover companies that you’d want to specifically work for yourself. In essence, hedge your bets. I am not meaning to criticize the recruitment industry, but like any industry there are some good and some bad companies out there and over the phone they may sound decent and friendly, but objectively will they get you the job you want? The only sure-fire way is to hedge your bets.
The interview itself is the half way point between job searching and securing the job and is therefore half of the work required to get you the job you want. Do not look at an interview and think it is the be all and end all as statistically you will fail more interviews than you succeed in. On the other hand, do not view an interview as one foot in the door as you still need to impress. I have also written up a post on How to pass an interview:
There is much said on passing interviews and what you need to do written by recruiters, HR and people involved in the industry. The difference is that most of them are written with the impression that you need to be bubbly, happy and clever in how you answer certain questions. Although they may be beneficial in certain interviews they fail in general to provide useful information that you can utilise in most interview scenarios.
Read the link above to see the detail, but I touch on something I call “sussing out the interviewer” and how and when to do it. It’s not something I see written about often, but I know of a few senior level people that use this technique and although it won’t secure you the job alone, it certainly increases your chances.
The key difference between people who pass interviews and those that don’t tends to concern confidence. Even Psychometric testing will see confidence as a benefit, so it goes a long way in all methods of interview. But it’s important not to confuse confidence with being bubbly and friendly as that’s more about extroversion. Confident people tend to be more assertive and forward in their subconscious and conscious actions, where as unconfident people are more reserved, hesitant and cautious especially when out of their comfort zone.
Upon first meeting the interviewer for example, confident people tend to be attempting to suss out the interviewer immediately, whereas unconfident people veer their attention to calming their nerves. You need to use the first couple of minutes, when they’ll be doing the thinking and most of the talking anyway, to try to work out what they are about. You can then articulate your answers to be more accurately in line with the way they’d want their questions answered thus giving them the best first impressions of you. This then sets the right tone for the interview and gives you a much better chance of success.
There are also a few basic tips that can be overlooked and forgotten, but just to cover all bases regarding the interview:
1-Wear a suit, shirt and tie with smart shoe’s or a business-like dress or outfit dependent on your gender. Smell nice (that doesn’t mean overdo it on the aftershave or perfume). Comb your hair or have a haircut. Presentation is the first impression and if you look like you’ve made an effort that bodes well for those first impressions.
2-Turn up 10 minutes early for the interview. DO NOT be late. Promptness say’s a lot about character and in an interview lateness is frowned upon.
3-Be diplomatic and professional when commenting on previous employers. Openly being critical and disrespectful is not a wise move and can be a real turn off to an interviewer.
4-Use your hands when speaking. It connotes confidence and we’ve already covered the importance of this word.
5-READ my post on interviewing. That’s obviously important. 😉
Here it is again:
To conclude this post you need to ensure you cover three bases when it comes to securing a job; the right mindset, the right strategy and the right interview technique and approach.
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