Thoughts for Job Seekers and Those already Employed

Recently, I had an opportunity to attend a job fair at a university on behalf of my company.  We along with dozens of other potential employers set up our exhibit and watched as the young wannabe employees approached us.  Their goal: sell us on their talents. 

Most of the job seekers were well groomed and very polite however; some were less than prepared to approach perspective employers.  It occurred to me that there is a parallel between interviewing for a job and selling.  Of course, we are all in the business of selling.  So, from my job fair adventure, here are some tips for young job candidates and not-so-young employees who are selling.

Be prepared. If you are going on an interview, have more than enough resumes and by all means make sure you have a professional resume. Nothing sends a negative message to a perspective employer quicker than a resume that is poorly written or one that is full of errors.  Likewise, when we are meeting with prospects or clients we must be prepared to present our self and our company in the best possible manner.

Be well groomed. There were a few young people walking around at the trade show that I thought might have been going to a local skateboard convention rather than interviewing for a professional job.  You make an impression within a matter of seconds; make sure it’s a good one!

Make good eye contact.  When you are talking with someone look at them, not at the ground, not at someone passing by – look at them.  They, whoever they are, deserve your courtesy and attention.  Personally, I find nothing ruder than someone not looking at me when we are in conversation.  Also, if you are talking with more than one person, don’t lock your gaze on one individual. If you are addressing two or three people, make sure you shift your attention so you make eye contact with each person.

Be polite.  I was impressed by most of the candidates who politely waited while we spoke with other people and when appropriate, stepped up, extended their hand and introduced themselves.  Equally important is not lingering in conversation, and with the same politeness, excusing yourself to allow others the opportunity to be interviewed.  This same thought extends to us as we speak with prospects to simply be polite and to take care of business and when we are done, thank our prospect/client for their time and allow them to get back to work. 

Be confident.  Be confident in who you are and what you can bring to your perspective employer. Confidence is displayed in a firm hand shake, good eye contact, and clear (not mumbling) communication.  By the way, confidence is not found in a college degree.  Whether you are a high school graduate or a graduate of Harvard Law School, be confident!  As I once heard someone say, “You know what you know,” that is, don’t pretend to know about something you don’t know. “I don’t know” is better answer than a long rambling answer that in the end means, “I don’t know.” 

Bring a good attitude.  The world owes you nothing!  And those who believe that their very existence entitles them to the best job, the best pay, the best benefits, the best…is not the attitude any employer wants!  So, despite what you might have been told in the class room, the best attribute you can bring to your employer is a good attitude.  If you have a daily attitude that is appreciative of your job, whatever your job is, and your attitude is “Today I’ll prove my worth to my employer,” you will succeed. 

Listen rather than talk. One of the oldest axioms in sales is “if you’re talking, you’re not selling.” Whether you are talking to a perspective employer or perspective client, ask questions, and get them to talk.  You will learn nothing if you are talking.  It is important to have your questions prepared in advance so you come in knowing what you want to know.

Make sure you understand what you must do next if anything. You’ve had a stimulating conversation and you feel like you connected and you are now wrapping up your conversation and getting ready to excuse yourself, but wait!  Do you know what’s next?  Are they going to call you?  Are you supposed to call them?  Do they need something else from you?  Make it crystal clear what is going to happen next with a statement like, “So it’s my understanding that…is that a fair statement.”

My experience at the job fair also reminded me of the enthusiasm that we should all bring to our jobs every day.  Almost to a person, you could sense the deep desire the candidates had to show you why they were the best choice to join your firm if you would just give them a chance.  Maybe we could all use a little injection of that type of attitude that is far too quickly replaced with complacency.

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