How successful you are may be directly associated to how old-fashioned you are. By old-fashioned I mean you have the social skills to impress your future employer. You understand the importance of decorum and civility. You are capable of representing yourself as one who understands and appreciates professional behavior. You know that how well you present yourself to a potential employer has as much to do with successfully landing a job as your experience and capabilities.
Unfortunately, the majority of people I experience in this position have virtually no awareness of the need for these skills. I think the cause lies behind the electronic age of communication and a lack of proper training from parents and educators. Whatever the cause, it is not helping them fulfill their potential.
Case in point: I received a call today from a student wanting to know if we were hiring summer interns. She left her number for me to call her back. A few hours earlier, I had received an e-mail from another person inquiring about a position. Here is the inquiry without identity:
My name is (name). I am currently a student at (name of education institution). I was wondering if you had any internship opportunities available for the upcoming summer. Thank you, (name)Are you surprised that I'm not really interested in talking to these people? I'm sure they are nice folks, but it's obvious that they don't have a clue about business. And I don't have time to find out if there is any potential beneath their naivety.
My advice is to treat your job search like an ad campaign. The potential employer is your target audience. Your communications with the potential employer are your ads. Remember, an ad only works if a consumer invites it into their consciousness. They pay attention only when they feel they will be rewarded. Potential employers are the same. The reward a potential employee must offer an employer is the indication that the potential employee can hit the ground running. A person that can do so approaches a job search in a very different way.
I have three interns. Here's why they were asked to join us: First, I received a letter explaining the individual's intense desire to do great work. Their notes indicated an awareness of our work by citing something that they particularly liked. Each followed up with a call to make an appointment at my convenience. Sometimes they called several times, realizing a busy person has other priorities in addition to hiring employees. Each of our current interns came to the interview fully prepared to demonstrate why he or she would make an exceptional addition to our staff. Each dressed and behaved professionally. Each sent me a handwritten "thank you" note for my meeting with them.
This is an example of how the cream of the crop gets a job. If you are not taking the proper attitude in approaching potential employers, your talent is irrelevant. The days of hiding the crazy geniuses in the back room are over. You have to be a genius in the back room and in the boardroom if you want to do great work, because that's what our business today demands.
Things are pretty tough these days. Unemployment is the highest it has been in 25 years. The ability to market oneself in a competitive field is difficult enough without giving employers another reason to ignore you. Give yourself an extra advantage over your competition. Learn the basic business and social skills that say you are worth the effort of a return phone call. If you are given an interview, remember that employers are looking for a reason to not hire you, because they don't want to make a mistake. If you're not sure what to do, go check out some books on how to get a job, do an interview, etc. Apply what you learn and you will find people more willing to give you a chance to prove yourself.