How to Score Your Dream Job

May 8, 2013

In today’s economy, it can be difficult to establish yourself in your dream career. In fact, finding any job can be challenging. Catherine Blake, founder and president of Sales Protocol, shares how to better your odds in the job-seeking process. 

In your experience, what’s the best way for people to secure the interview?

The cover letter is alive and well. Unless you deliver a solid cover letter demonstrating your strengths, credentials, and the value you can bring to the organization, you are going to get overlooked.

Obviously, doing the research on the person hiring and the organization to see how you are connected to them is huge. However, you still need to deliver the goods via your cover letter to land the interview.

Remember, the prospective interviewer is going to Google your name to see what pops up, so leveraging your online brand to your advantage is brilliant. You are what you publish online. Be intentional.

What crucial things should you do after an interview?

I recommend a two-pronged approach:

  • First, write a follow-up e-mail covering your favorable impressions of the organization and recapping some points made during your interview.
  • Second, send a handwritten thank-you note on quality stationary to each individual you met with. You want to thank them for the opportunity and share what impressed you the most about them.

Now will you remember to get their business cards? I hope so!

What’s your advice for job seekers?

Job candidates have to remember that the prospective employer is the customer. We need to treat them with respect and make sure that we are running the ball down the field at all times.

Demonstrating your leadership by being proactive, being prepared, and delivering value will show that you are focused and serious. The best advice I can give is, “Honesty is the best policy.” Be honest. Be prepared.

If you know your top five strengths, why not come up with a prepared story for each? Show me how you used your strengths on the job, in a school project, or in a volunteer capacity to deliver value. Get them thinking, “If you can do this for others, you might be able to do this for me.”

How can a job candidate stand out?

The candidate who arrives well turned out, understands business etiquette, and is polite and professional to everyone they meet will score points.

In addition, using résumé folders with copies of your résumé, cover letter, and reference list is a best practice. Bring at least five résumé folders fully loaded to leave behind. There is rarely just one person who wants to look you over.

Prepare for the tough questions. And make sure you know and can honestly talk about your blind spots are and how you are working to improve them. We all have them, and it’s better to admit that you’re not perfect than to try to hide things—only to have them come up once you are on the job. For example, I do lots of writing, but I am weak on proofreading. This is why I team up with someone who can proof my work before it goes to press.

How useful are networking events? How should job seekers approach these events?

Networking events are hugely important. The goal is to get the other person’s contact information so that you can connect with them on LinkedIn and other social media, make a favorable impression, and deliver value.

Most importantly, your goal is to ask how you can help them succeed. Also, please remember that the other person is there to network, so be brief and move things along so that they can meet others in the room. You can always arrange a meeting when you’re back in the office.

Also, don’t drink. You would be amazed at how much information you can gather when you are fully alert and on the top of your game. Find out what the other person does, make sure you get a card, and ask how you can help. Then move on.

Looking for more career resources?

Workshops

Workshops through the Career and Academic Resource Center focus on many topics, ranging from study skills to career advancement. Workshops are offered in the fall and spring semesters. So make sure to check back to see what will be offered.