Career strategists on YouTube share the secrets to landing your dream job
You’ve devoted time to building skills and gaining experience, now how do you turn those talents into a job offer? We partnered with career strategy expert, Professor Heather Austin to compile a guide and companion playlist to help you land your next big opportunity.
Professor Heather Austin has helped thousands of job seekers find their dream careers and succeed in the marketplace. Prior to founding her career strategy business, Heather spent 13 years in academia teaching thousands of students from all across the globe. She's now bringing her experience to an even greater audience through online courses, 1:1 coaching and weekly live streams on her YouTube channel. She answered some of the most critical career strategy questions for us and shared some of her favorite content recommendations and resources.
What is the number one undervalued way to get a job?
Prof. Austin: The number one least-appreciated way to get a job is networking. Did you know that 80% of new hires are found through networking, and a huge amount of these positions don’t even get posted? This means that if you’re a job seeker, networking needs to be your top priority.
No matter where you are in your career -- from just starting out to 20 years in the workforce -- networking should be at the top of your list if you’re serious about getting a new job!
Sometimes we think of networking as a coffee date or a cocktail party, but that could not be further from the truth! If you want to advance in your career, you need to be ready to make connections anytime, anywhere.
One of my favorite go-to resources for networking is LinkedIn. It’s the perfect platform to make new connections, nurture existing relationships and stand out from others in a competitive job market. Start by optimizing your LinkedIn profile.
What can an applicant do to stand out when applying to jobs online?
Prof. Austin: One way an applicant can stand out when applying to jobs online is to create an engaging resume and cover letter that tells their true career story. These two items should work together to showcase an applicant's greatest accomplishments and demonstrate their proven ability for the position.
This all starts by tailoring both documents. This might sound time-consuming, but trust me, it’s worth it. It will demonstrate that the applicant is a serious candidate. Generic resumes and cover letters are a big turnoff to employers.
The next thing a candidate can do is to use their resume and cover letter to show that they are the solution. They need to demonstrate that they can help the company solve their biggest problems. This can easily be done in a professional highlights section with bullet points on a resume or by telling an interesting story in a cover letter.
Finally, the applicant needs to focus on their accomplishments. They can use their resume and cover letter to emphasize their talents in action by giving clear and direct examples of how their accomplishments directly relate to the position they are applying for. And keep in mind: Employers love to see numbers, meaning quantifiable results will go a long way.
What are the most important things to do to prepare for an interview?
Prof. Austin: Interview preparation is one of the most important parts of the job search process. It only takes 30 seconds to make a first impression. You want to make those first few seconds really count in your interview by looking alert, capable, and interested. This is where good interview preparation skills come in handy.
One of the first steps to preparing for an interview is to do your homework. Interviewers love it when candidates come into an interview knowing about the company and the position. Before interview day, review the company’s mission and organizational goals and find out why they are hiring for the position in the first place.
Next, know your accomplishments! Jot down 5 to 7 of your most important career accomplishments as they relate to the position you are applying for. Make a note of the details surrounding each accomplishment and be able to retell it in a story format to your interviewer.
Finally, reduce interview anxiety and stress by preplanning your interview. This includes choosing your interview attire ahead of time and selecting a set of questions to ask your interviewer during the interview. Your questions should touch on the position, the company and the team.
If you’re prepping for a video or phone interview a lot of the same principles apply. However, you’ll need to pay special attention to other items such as your location, your audio and your video. Grab your favorite pair of headphones, select a location that is free from distractions, and ensure that if you’ll be on camera, you’re at eye level with the camera.
What do hiring managers look for during the interview?
Prof. Austin: During the interview, hiring managers are looking for A-players. A-players have a proven ability to get things done ahead of schedule, volunteer for projects and admit when they’ve made mistakes.
A-players can also demonstrate that they can easily adapt to changing circumstances. And although a great attitude, positivity, and high energy are very much needed and wanted in the workplace, hiring managers are looking for four main competencies.
The first competency hiring managers look for is effective communication. Employers want to hire someone that understands the big picture. They want someone that understands the frustrations and problems the company is facing. The best way to demonstrate this competency is by being a good listener, asking good questions and building good relationships.
The second competency hiring managers look for is emotional maturity. They want someone that can work through problems, take constructive criticism and not take things personally.
Resourcefulness is the third competency hiring managers look for. Their ideal candidate will demonstrate ways they’ve been able to use what they have to make things work. They can show that they are a lifelong learner -- that they’ve gotten the necessary training they’ve needed to do their job well.
Last, but not least, and probably the most important competency is someone that is action-oriented. Hiring managers are looking for individuals that are proactive and focus on solutions. They want someone that is helpful during challenging situations and that uses their critical thinking and creative abilities to solve problems.
Applying for jobs can be frustrating - how can an applicant stay motivated?
Prof. Austin: Job search fatigue is real. Especially for jobseekers who have received multiple rejection notices and haven’t had a lot of “wins'' along the way. Stay motivated and on track by remembering three key things.
First, don’t take it personally, hiring professionals are sometimes working with hundreds of candidates at one time. There can be many reasons why they choose one candidate over another.
Second, every interview is an opportunity to learn. If you don’t get the offer, ask the recruiter or interviewer what you could have done better.
Finally, take care of yourself. Meditation, yoga, long walks, and spending time with people you love are fantastic ways to overcome job search fatigue.
If you’re hungry for more, check out our additional guide from Colombian career strategist, Claudia Palacio.