Plays Well With Others – More Thoughts on the Job Search

I needz a job

I needz a job

While searching for a job, the interview is your opportunity to showcase your talents and the strengths that you bring to an organization.  But I have a few more random thoughts about conducting your job search that I thought were worth mentioning.

The Personal Touch

The first thought is a quick one.  In our high-speed technology driven world, a personal touch still makes a difference.  So be sure to send a thank you e-mail after concluding an interview, assuming you liked the company and the opportunity.  There was a time when a hand-written thank you note was the appropriate response.  However, current times require us to respond a bit faster than the post can deliver.  So you’ll be much better served by writing a sincere note of appreciation to the interviewing officer(s).  Remember, interviewing for a job is a form of competition and actions you can undertake on your part to make yourself appear to be the more considerate and thoughtful team player also make you more memorable and desirable to potential new bosses.

References are Worth Their Weight in Gold

The second thought is a bit more involved, but it boils down to the idea that your references are as close to your professional reputation as a potential employer can get.  Therefore, you want to build as positive a set of referrals as you possibly can.  Here are some tips – when you begin looking for a new job, be sure to let the friends and associates that you’ve listed them (or plan to list them) as references.  Make sure that they understand what the job is like that you’re applying for and also make sure that they know what, out of your manifold job qualifications, are the key ones you’d like them to mention if they’re called on for a reference.

Impossible Job Search?

Also, try to select a few references from different levels of your work experience.  A candidate who has several glowing referrals from coworkers is good, but a candidate who has glowing referrals from a boss (even if it was from two or three jobs in the past), some coworkers, and a subordinate or two is even better.  References are seen by potential employers as a means of understanding how you’ve worked in with your team in the past.  So the more perspectives on your work you can offer, the better.

Bad References are an Albatross Around Your Neck

Finally, when it comes to references, remember that YOU are in control.  So never provide the names of people as references for whom you don’t know what they’ll say.  Certainly, you don’t want anyone to provide scripted answers.  However, you do want to know, in general terms, that Sally will be able to talk about how good you were at meeting deadlines and that Nigel will be able to vouch for the excellent process you developed to provide the company with a bulletproof disaster recovery process.

I once had a friend who we were considering hiring.  I called his first reference, who was a boss from two jobs in the past, who only said that she remembered who he was but that she could not remember anything else about his job performance.  Two of his references would not return my calls.  And a third reference, a coworker of his, only said that he was a competent programmer who was punctual.   Does this paint a good picture for my friend?  Absolutely not.  No one was willing to go on the record that his performance was ever anything better than mediocre.  And most people, in fact, either wouldn’t respond or simply hedged.  In a situation like that, you’re been better off not providing references than to provide references who are evasive or unwilling to impact their own reputation by commenting on yours.

So, to conclude, try to apply a few nice, personal touches after the interview.  A quick email thanking those who interviewed you is a good start.  Also, remember the importance of your references.  Try to build a handful of strong references from several different levels of your professional background.  Choose references that will give honest and unforced appraisals of your work while also provide good things to say about you.  Checking references is one of the last hurdles in landing a new job, but also one of the most important.  However, it’s also one that you are most able to control.

– Kevin

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