Reader is a young black man living in the south and has had difficulty finding a job, based in large part he feels to open or subtle racism. How do I overcome this obstacle to get a job? How do I nail the interview? What should I do to prepare?
Thank you for your question, and I can certainly relate to some degree. Although clearly I am not a black man in the south I was a single-mom of one-year old twin babies and a 5 year old when I was last searching for work in a down economy. I remember thinking, no one will hire me! Hell I wouldn’t of hired me! A single mom with 3 very young kids, is a recipe for disaster! What happens when they are sick, or I needed to travel? I thought it would be something I might not be able to overcome.
But as a matter of survival I needed a job! And I needed a good one because daycare for 3 small kids is equal to many people’s entire salary. So I knew I just had to sell myself harder than anyone else. They needed to LOVE me and know that there is no one else on earth that will do the job with as much passion, determination and get results like me.
Step 1. Failure is not an option. You WILL get a job, period. Change your mind set to that and believe it. When you actually believe that it will happen that will relieve a ton of immediate pressure which will allow you to focus and stay calm throughout the interview process.
Step 2. Your Resume! Because the last 2 years I have spent in a hiring role, I know how critical a piece this is. It’s the thing that either gets you noticed or gets recycled. If you don’t already have one, Google many examples of resumes and go to work building a stellar one. It’s ok to use “fancy” language to spice up what your responsibilities are, but they do need to be based in fact and need to reflect what the actual terminology is for that specific field. Try to list out your responsibilities as best you can in one sentence for each one. Each job should have at least 5 of those bullet points. It should be clean, neat with all the basic required info. No more then 3-4 jobs listed, gaps in employment should be stated with a reason, it shouldn’t be more than 2 pages long, be sure to provide 3 references, (this will save a stall in the process when they are ready to check your references). Be sure to include your email, cell and Linkedin URL.
Step 3. LinkedIn Profile. If you don’t have one of these, set it up! This tool is used by employers to recruit and will be the first thing they do a search for when they have your name, (and of course they will Google you too, so be sure your online presence is ready). Make your profile as complete as possible and be sure to put your picture on it. It’s basically an online version of your resume, so employers will look to be sure all the info matches up.
Step 4. Get the interview! Be tenacious! When you have found the job you want, apply send your resume and follow up. There’s a fine line between being persistent and a stalker so tread somewhat carefully. But every job I’ve ever loved I was a little on the stalker side! I never gave up until they gave me the job! Get the contact information of hiring manager and send a short intro email (no more then 1-2 very short paragraphs), a few sentences expressing your interest in the position. Appropriate follow up is twice a week, one in email, one in voicemail.
Step 5. Nail the interview! When you drive into the parking lot, start envisioning this as your new job. It’s a month or a year from now, and this will be the place you park every day. When you walk into the building and wait at reception for your interview do the same thing. My trick is I have always envisioned myself walking into work, running a little late, traffic was bad, coffee in hand looking a hot mess. Just walking through the doors like that, like it was any day at work. Then I take it in and determine if I could do that there, if that is the right place for me. If it is I go in and make them love me! I am cool calm and collected but friendly and on my toes. I’ve spent the time visioning what it will be like on an ordinary day to have this job, and I want it!
- Come prepared. Make sure you researched the company first, come with a note pad and a list of 4-5 questions. Always be prepared to ask questions!
- Dress the part. It’s always better to be over dressed for an interview then under dressed, always.
- Make Eye contact throughout the process.
- Have a good strong hand shake.
- Sit up straight. Sounds stupid, but believe me the employer is looking at every little mannerism. Give them reasons to only say good things when you leave.
- Do research on who is going to interview you. Google them, look them up on LinkedIn.
- Then follow up! Send a hand written note to the person who interviewed you. Do the twice a week follow up until they either give you the job or tell you that you were not selected. In your voice mail and email follow up’s be sure to show your enthusiasm for the position and for what you will bring to it.
You will get the job that is right for you. And though race does likely play a role in your search, don’t let it! Be the man they want to hire. Make them love you, be clear about what you bring to the table. And don’t let ANYTHING stop you from achieving your dreams. Good Luck!
~Written by Sarah Centrella for Thoughts.Stories.Life.