Marketing one's self
- Having Dedication
On Perry Bradford's 27th birthday, which was February 14th (Saint Valentine's Day) of 1920, vaudevillian Mamie Smith recorded Mr. Bradford's song, “You Can't Keep A Good Man Down”.
What that means, according to Idioms @ TheFreeDictionary.com: “You can't keep a good man down” is that “a person with a strong character will always succeed, even if they have a lot of problems”.
The phrase may seem highly judgemental, indicating that people are not “good” unless they have certain qualities such as perseverance. (For a person who who tries to make moral decisions in life, yet is not currently being successful in job interviews, such a phrase indicates that the person is not “good” despite being “moral”, which can be quite disheartening.)
However, the phrase does indicate a lesson available to those willing to take the lesson to heart: When life gets rough, people can still conquer obstacles. Told more clearly, a book by Jack Gangstad quotes his grandmother, “You can't keep a good man down. You can't keep a good woman down. Good people will bounce back up.” The phrase does not say, “Good people never have difficulty.” The phrase does indicate, though, that a “good” person, who has experienced troubles, will not be willing to forever remain in a sub-desirable state. Instead, such a “good” person will decide to get back up, expending the effort needed to improve the situation. No matter how awful the circumstances, they won't be able to keep a good person from (eventually?) rising up and achieving success.
The father of ][CyberPillar]['s creator/founder stated, “If you don't have a job, your job in life is to get a job.” This person recognized that trying to find a job can be very frustrating, and generally offers about the worst possible pay (absolutely nothing) in the short term. Actually, the pay is even worse than free: There may even be some costs (purchasing gasoline to travel in a car; buying clothing that looks professional, paying for food and shelter-related expenses for however many days it takes to get and so forth.) This is unpleasant.
There are even more unpleasant aspects to hunting for a job. Things get even more unpleasant: Substantial time may be taken by the need to fill out forms, or even tests. Success is often not instantaenous: some professional jobs may involve multiple rounds of interviews with multiple candidates, leaving some people with absolutely nothing even after waiting days or weeks between interviews. Once somebody is successfully hired, many organizations don't even bother with contacting everyone else, leaving everyone else in a state of wondering about their status (unless they contact the potential employer again, although they might (correctly) feel like they shouldn't contact the potential employer too early because they don't want to look like a nag.)
However, a characteristic often found in many of history's most recognized successful people is that they did not use their struggles as an excuse to just remain unproductive in society.
A recommended course of action, even before spending significant effort to get a job, is to make a decision that success will be achieved, even if the success is not immediate and does not come as quickly as desired. This way, if anticipated success does not happen, the response is pre-determined: don't give up, and do keep trying. If one thing does not work, perhaps try for something else that works. But, try, try, try, and keep pursuing until something good does occur.
(This text may be expanded upon in the future.)
- [#jobresum]: Resumé/résumé/resume/“curriculum vitae” (“CV”)
A resume is a tool which many employers do highly value. A sub-section has been created to discuss this concept. See: Resumé/résumé/resume/“curriculum vitae” (“CV”)
- [#jobintvw]: Interview
A lot of the information provided about creating a resume may also apply to an interview. For example, consider every person who is in charge of hiring to be a potential ally in the common cause of the employer discovering the right person to hire.
For a possible new employee, hopefully that right person is the new employee. However, if the new employee is not going to work out, there may actually be some benefits to the employee by having the employer realize this early on. If an employee is not going to be employeed very long anyway, it may be best for the employee to not get hired, even for a short period of time. One reason is so the employee doesn't start to feel a sense of financial stability which ends up being a false feeling. (It could be particularly disasterous if the employee makes promises, such as obtaining a financial loan or spending money on a credit card, only to find out after the promises were made that the expected income is going to quickly dry up.) Another possible benefit to not being hired at a place that won't work out is that the employee may feel compelled to keep looking elsewhere, and may end up finding the right place.
- Arriving early
This guide isn't going to go into too many of the common-sense details, like not wearing a bunch of sloppy clothing to an interview for a position where people typically dress professionally. However, here is a tidbit that may be a bit of a unique insight.
Once a newly hired employee was driving to work for the person's very first day at a new job. Preparing took a little bit longer than first expected, and so the person was in a bit of a hurry to get to work on time. The person drove a car onto the freeway, which was generally the fastest way to get around the city.
This city had some college students who decided to break the law. They were going to try to peacefully protest to achieve some recognition of political ideals that they wanted to communicate. Knowing that drivers are unlikely to want to commit manslaughter, a rather large group of people started walking onto the freeway. They successfully managed to slow and even stop traffic. Surely this became a substantial inconvenience for the lives of the drivers. However, it was being effective at allowing the protestors to achieve their goal, which was to get attention so people would think about the cause that they were promoting.
Fortunately for this newly hired employee, the Southbound traffic on the freeway was the traffic being stopped, and the newly hired employee was traveling North in some separate lanes of traffic. So the newly hired employee ended up arriving right on time. However, even though the ending happened to be a happy one for this employee, he remembers seeing that traffic was backed up for miles on the Southbound lane of traffic. It was basically just good luck that the newly hired employee wasn't affected by the actions of the protestors.
Of course, had the protestors affected the Northbound lane of traffic, they wouldn't have had any real way to know that they were going to end up really ruining a person's big day (which really was the case for the person who was on the other side of the freeway). This was a big day for the person: the interview actually did lead up to landing a good job that lasted for years and really launched a professional career. There might have been others, too.
Most drivers would just end up being slightly inconvenienced, and perhaps a bit late for a job that they are normally on time for. It is likely that many of these protestors thought it would be a fun activity, and joined in the activity, not really considering that they might cost somebody a valued job, or that somebody else might be unable to deliver medicine to a family member who needed the treatment (and may continue to suffer until that treatment is delivered). That is an entirely made up scenario that might not have happened... or maybe it did. Who knows? (Even if the first people who were stopped weren't affected, the twenty-third car in the line of stopped traffic may have had little options. And the protestors may not notice the car.)
However, that's really a tangent discussion. The more relevant point here is that having some more spare time may have allowed the driver to not need to rely on luck.
- Have answers ready
One question that has started to get asked in many job interviews are: What are your weaknesses? (Or, perhaps more applicably: What are your opportunities for improvement?)
Unfortunately, years ago advice has been given that experts, who research the job interview process, have determined the following conclusion: There is often no answer that is really good for the person being interviewed.
This type of question is, however, often very revealing about a person's weaknesses. Asking this question may often be to the benefit of the person asking the question. So, as unpleasant as it may be, this question does often get asked.
It is good if the answer will match what is said by any previous employer. In fact, at least one case the actual question asked was something more like, “If I were to ask your previous supervisor” (who was actually named directly when the question was asked), “what would that person say is your greatest weakness?”
Having a good, solid answer may make a person seem more prepared. It can show a level of self-assessment, which may be common among people who are trying to improve themselves.
One way to try to handle these questions may be to answer the question (so that the answer does not seem evasive), but then try to lead the conversation to a more positive topic. When an answer is being asked for, that may often be an opportunity for a person to naturally control the conversation, so try to move it to a more positive scenario. Get off of this sort of wretched topic as quickly as possible. Try to not focus on this portion of the interview: show people that you are going to look for a more positive situation. Doing so may actually successfully communicate a very good thing: that a response to an unpleasant situation is to do what is necessary, but to get things back into pleasant land.
Try not to describe anything which is excuses anything that is bad. Such descriptions are called “excuses”, and many supervisors don't like “reasons” that excuse bad things. Instead, they want to see that a person resolves bad things, so that bad things are resolved instead of being allowed to continue.
One possible answer, which may work well in some situations (and terrible in other situations), is: inexperience. (This may make a lot more sense for an entry level position, and much less sense for someone trying to become a manager or other leadership position in the company.) This could also re-inforce the idea that the hiring managers may be better off by re-positioning existing staff, instead of hiring an outsider. So this can work terribly, but it might also be an okay answer. The inexperience being referred to could be inexperience in the general field, or inexperience with a specific implementation. (Any person who has not worked in the exact same position for the exact same company must have some amount of inexperience that can be cited.) The natural solution, of course, would be to start getting experience. That weakness may likely be a short-term issue that can be quickly resolved by hiring the person being interviewed.
For people with some working experience, another possible answer might be a lack of opportunity to further pursue a specific objective. For instance, people only have so much time available. If lots of time (or some other resource) was spent taking care of certain tasks, that could have limited a person from being able to help in other ways. If a person can successfully communicate the idea that they didn't help more in one area because they were too busy helping out in another area, that might be a relatively decent answer to this sort of question. (However, such an answer might also easily give the impression that a person was dissatisfied with doing some work that was necessary. So, such an answer may also have certain risks.)
Other answers that do not reveal problems (especially with reliability or professionalism), and which have already-identified solutions, can be good. This may require some fore-thought (to think about what the ready-made solutions could be). For instance, “I realized I was not equipped for the task that was being sought. Since then, I went to school and have have obtained the experience that was previously needed.” Such an answer could indicate that the problem has already been resolved. A lack of specific knowledge (or experience), that has since been obtained, may often be a relatively decent answer.
Towards the end of the job interview, the question may be asked, by the potential employer, “Do you have any further questions?” The best answer to be given by the employee is... (drumroll for dramatic effect...) the honest one. Certainly, do both of the following things (in order):
- Say “yes” (because that seems like the more intelligent answer)...
- and then sit there like a dummy while trying to think of an intelligent question.
(Doing the first of those things is a great idea. Doing the second, is not. And here is a guide to help prepare, so that the second one isn't needed.) Pausing for a second or two (or perhaps three) might be tolerated as a person has an opportunity to prioritize some active thoughts, but if the interviewer starts to think that a person is just trying hard to come up with any question for the sake of coming up with a question, or trying to extend the interview, then the interviewer will probably start to try to end the interview. This is simply because the interviewer will be wanting to value the interviewer's time better than making an unnecessarily long interview.
If there's no further questions that a potential employee feels as being needed to be discussed, that might potentially, possibly, actually be a positive sign that a lot of positive communication happened during the job interview. However, many of the most successful interviews leave an impression that there is more to be said, if only there was further time. And so, the interviewer will be feeling inclined to want to spend more time with the potential employee. The interviewer will be more likely able to do that (spend time with thet person being interviewed) if the person being interviewed gets hired.
Here are some questions which a potential employee may want to know about. If they haven't come up during the job interview, feel free to ask! These are questions that an outsider, who hasn't yet been hired, would often not be expected to know. Making sure this information is covered can make a person look intelligent enough to ask the questions, while having the side benefit of being able to know more details about the job. Plus, many of these questions may describe some things that the employer is pleased about. If the employer is pleased about being able to discuss such things, it may help the employer feel better about how the whole conversation went. (That may be a psychological tip: people often feel better about conversations when they do most of the talking. Perhaps the employer would really benefit more by listening more to the employee, but the employee doesn't necessarily need to make sure the employer knows every good thing about the employee. Often, what the employee really needs, in order for the job interview to go well for the employee, is for the employer to be feeling good things about how well the job interview went.)
- How many staff members are at the location?
- Who will the new staff member be reporting to, primarily? (The answer may be different than the staff who makes the hiring decisions, especially for a job like construction where an office with hiring managers may not be the location where the employee will need to regularly be doing work The answer may also be a team of supervisors, rather than a single person.) If it is a single person, what is that person's name?
- What sort of expectations does the company have of the staff members? (How is performance measured?)
- In very many cases, a company may provide certain resources, such as equipment, to help employees achieve success. Perhaps the company has certain operational methods that it uses to help achieve success. Learning more about how the company contributes to success, and partners with the efforts of the employees to achieve the success, may be a talking point that management loves to discuss.
- Does the company have any current goals that it is currently quite focused on?
- What is the company currently doing to achieve its goals? Are there plans which may be shared with the potential staff member about how the company plans to reach goals that the company has?
[#knofolwu]: What is the next step to being successfully hired? Also, is there any anticipated timeframe for when that will likely occur.
If the people hiring need time to make a decision, it is desirable to try to figure out when an answer is anticipated. Often, at least a generalized answer may be available. However, do not try to be too pushy for information that isn't available.
- Hint: Try to pose this from the perspective of someone who is eager to get on board, not as a person who is trying to satisfy personal curiosity.
- This helps an interviewee to be able to know when a follow-up would be convenient for the business. This sort of question really helps to be able to follow-up most effectively (and conveniently for whoever works at the business). So, interviewers will expect that this information is generally very appropriate for a person to inquire about.
- These last items (how? and, details, like: when?) are *** VERY IMPORTANT ***. Try hard to not forget this!
- Knowing this, towards the end of the interview, is often a good thing. Fortunately, this is also a question that, if left out so far, might even be something that can be tactfully asked even after people wind down the interview (e.g. after making final handshakes with people). This has even been asked while being escorted out of the building. Asking it earlier might have been classier, but even just asking it late can be better than not thinking about this enough to ask at all.
- Do not be very disappointed if the answer is that the preferred follow-up method is to contact a person's secretary/receptionist. It is true that getting direct access to the decision maker may often, in general, be a better thing. However, redirecting follow-up communication (even including the task of information a person that they have been successfully hired) may be fairly common, so may not be an entirely bad thing. (In contrast, showing disappointment in a decision made by the person that needs to be impressed, may be an entirely bad thing.)
- Asking this might be (rightfully) interpreted as a question that is winding down the interview. So, asking this towards the end is probably preferred. But, do ask this.
- If the people hiring need time to make a decision, it is desirable to try to figure out when an answer is anticipated. Often, at least a generalized answer may be available. However, do not try to be too pushy for information that isn't available.
As soon as possible, if follow-up details weren't obtained, try to get them. If needed, getting these any time (even within the same or next day) may often be appropriate (as a generalilzation) - the sooner, the better. Hopefully that won't even be necessary, because hopefully they will already be obtained (during the interview).
After the interview, remain professional. Note that in many environments, non-staff members are not expected to hang around the premesis. Accept any escort out, or self-escort out. Once out of the building, make sure to be sufficiently far from the premesis that you're not seen, before getting too unprofessional. In places with relatively small parking lots, it may be best to drive a few blocks away (and then legally park) before hopping on a cell phone to socialize (like telling someone who cares, about how well the interview went).
Then, see what to do while a decision is still pending.
- Formalized credentials
These can also be helpful, depending on what sort of job is being pursued. These may be discussed in more details in text about formalized credentials.
- [#nojobyet]: While waiting for responses
Once information has been submitted, waiting for a response can be about the most aggrevating thing. However, sometimes it is necessary.
However, don't be complacent and just sit around doing nothing.
- When contacting a company that has not yet shared a decision
When contacting someone who may be involved in the hiring decision, always try to figure out what the next step is, and when it may occur. Don't be too pushy, as that may look undesirable. However, if information about a date is provided, keep track of that detail. (Record the date, so that this information doesn't get confused with other dates if any other potential employers also show interest.)
If that date passes, and someone who should have contacted you did not do so, then following up is probably very appropriate.
This really can work. At least one technical manager was known to have achieved his initial position with the company because he regularly kept approaching the owner (and C.E.O.) of the local company.
Be careful to try to not over-bug (because, once again, being pushy is generally undesirable). However, making one's self as known as possible (through repeated contact) is generally a good thing, as long as the efforts don't seem to cross the line where they may show some irritation.
The best way to not overbug may be to obtain, and then follow, guidelines from the organization. When talking to someone of importance, ask what sort of timeframe is preferred for a follow-up.
If information is not known, perhaps make some general assumptions. Following up a couple of days later may be good. Slowly extend the time between contacts to be once a week.
Once useful contact with an important decision maker has been found, don't forget to ask for the same information (and result in getting put back into the same predicament of not knowing the preferred timeframe). Successful contact with a decision maker may be an interview, or similar to an interview. (See the section about interviewing for details.)
An excellent idea, while waiting for any companies that have already been contacted, is to try to contact competitors. See if working for them may be an option.
Perhaps some other work may be available. See: finding jobs that need people to help.
Finally, consider improving familiarity with technology. This can often be done while learning information designed to help people achieve useful formalized credentials. There may also be other approaches, including following some of the tutorials available from ][Cyber Pillar][.
- Qualifications for this text
Upon hearing some of this advice (being verbally shared), some people have often responded with a recognition that this information represents a “new” perspective (that had been previously unknown), and that this information “makes sense”.
The original version of this text was written by the founder/creator of ][Cyber Pillar][. A friend (who had a degree in IT) said to this person, “You have been able to get more work in the field than anybody I know.” The sharing and applying of these techniques have been known to help (multiple) people successfully get a job. (Details are not provided here, out of respect for privacy reasons. However, even on a local level before this website had been launched, real-life evidence has proved that knowing these details has caused success.) This information works. So, figure out how to usefully apply it and how to achieve success.