It’s 3.29 am on a Saturday morning and I’m sitting at my computer applying for a job. It’s a consultant job at the United Nations, and pretty much the only kind of job that I’ll do these days. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not because I don’t need the money, because I do. I have big dreams, and I am boot strapping those dreams, so the money will always be welcome.
The reason why it’s the only job I’ll ever do these days is because it gives me time to work on my other pursuits. In the past 4 weeks I have applied to 3 positions. All part time consulting positions, all squarely in my area of expertise, that I absolutely enjoy. It’s like how we used to break out the crayons as kids to color on white paper, the web is my canvas and html snippets and web apps are my crayons. And I have been called for an interview on 1 of them, and by the time you read this, it may be 2 of them. (Update: I got called for an interview for 2 of them).
I realize that being called for a job interview 2 out of 3 times is not exactly every time. But it’s the times that I don’t get called that I realize I should have trusted my gut instinct and not applied for that position. You know the feeling I’m talking about. That feeling that warns you that buying that lottery ticket is setting you back a few dollars and is most likely not going to pan out. Or that feeling that if you spend this money on this trip, you may be in the red for a long time. Or that feeling that tells you that you really should get that crack in your car windscreen fixed now, or risk paying way more if you delay. I’ve learnt to listen to that instinct and it’s served me well. In my job applications, it’s the one that tells me that the job is either not really open for candidates, or that I’d be a poor candidate for the job.
1. Find out if they are really looking for someone to interview someone for the job
Case in point, I have been hired in the past by an organisation that had already identified me as their preferred candidate. All they needed was a rubber stamp to show that I was the best, or to meet an organizational rule so they had to put out a job advert. In these cases, organizations can go one of two routes. They can either make the requirements ridiculously specific such that no one else will come close to qualifying. Or they will make them so broad that there is really no hope of finding a candidate in the pool that actually fits the job. Which means their preferred candidate still comes out on top. And that’s only in cases where the position is already spoken for. If you are in doubt, it’s best to apply and ask questions later. Or if you are really bold, find the hiring manager on LinkedIn and get their email address using Hunter.io. Then drop them a line asking if they have someone in mind already or if you can apply. I always say, it makes your name familiar to them, and you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
In most cases though, it will be a genuine recruitment. And the number one way they will use to filter you out during shortlisting is your years of experience. Please note that while they have said they’d like 3 years of under/post graduate experience, what they actually mean is this. Look at your current or previous job roles and pull out the exact things you do or did that match this particular job you are applying for. Next, figure out what percentage of time you spent doing these exact things. For example, I developed web modules as 30% of my tasks as a Knowledge Management Officer at UNDP in 2012. Next determine how much time you spent on the job if it was part-time. If it was full-time, then add up the number of years on that job and get 30% of those years. That will help you figure out how much experience you have in that area. For me, that would have worked out to 1 year of experience, if I was working full-time for 3 years at that job. It gets tricky when you work part-time as a consultant which I do alot of these days. You’ll start dealing with fractions and the like, so make an estimate and round it up or down to the year. When in doubt, round it downwards. The main point is, your 2+ years of experience, well, it’s not quite 2+ years of experience. Unless you are applying to a role that is exactly like the one that you have right now. Oh, and you can do the same for your post graduate study, it does count towards your years of experience, but only if the job calls for a Bachelors degree. If it calls for a Masters, and you’ve studied full time to get your Masters, then no can-do. If you studied while working, throw that time you worked in there, you earned it!
So for starters, when certain organisations, like the UN, call for a certain number of years of experience, take it seriously.
2. Trust your gut, do you meet the requirements for the job interview?
Next, trust your gut. Once you’ve trained it to be brutally honest and once you start to actually READ the job requirements, it will guide you will. Yes, you do need to speak French for this role. Though this too you could bypass in the rare situation – one of the jobs that I applied for and got 5 years ago required French, but guess what? I applied (after the deadline) and got the job without French. I’m still working on my French though, you never know when it will come in handy.
The one trick that you need to know to get called for a job interview every-time is simple. Write your cover letter like a sales letter. And yes, that means you can tease your readers to want to meet you to find out that one trick to increasing their ranking in google search results. Or why it would surprise them which hosting you would choose over cloud hosting and on-location hosting. Or how you envision some new modules that will get their site in front of the right users. A disclaimer though, this will only work if you meet the least requirements that will get you past the shortlist. That’s because human resources will do the shortlist and they have no idea what you do, what you could be capable of doing if you got the job, and they frankly don’t much care. To them you are one name among hundreds, and they need to be able to tick all checkboxes to make sure that you qualify to get to the next stage. Be brutally honest, and as clear as you possibly can about your years of experience, your academics and your skills if any of them are in the list of requirements. In fact, put them in the exact same words that the job advertisement needs, that’s you free checklist right there. It’s like having the answers to the exam questions. I’m not saying lie, because that won’t work. When you are caught out you could be blacklisted by the organization which would be much worse than missing out on one little job interview.
3. Write your cover letter like a sales letter, the one thing that will get you your next job interview
So back to the one trick that you need to know to get called for a job interview every-time. Write your cover letter like a sales letter, and tease your readers to want to meet you to find out that one trick you know. See, the reason for this is that no likes to miss out, also known as FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). And not least your interviewers. Since the position is open for hire, that shows you that there is a skill that is missing from the organization that it is hiring for. So when you are hired, you should be an expert in your field.
Even if they are not too impressed with your CV, and they better be, if they have even a small inkling that you have information or knowledge that is critical to their organisational process, they will call you in. That does not necessarily mean that they think you are the one for the job, but that’s where what you say at your job interview is very important. That’s where you let them know that you ARE the one for the job because if they don’t hire you then they will not have this intelligent, versatile, creative and driven individual who is as passionate about their organization as you are. Because you’ve read at least 3 or 10 of their recent reports on the area they are interviewing you for. Heck, reading a company report in ANY area will put you head and shoulders above most interviewees.
So in a nutshell, the one trick is write your cover letter like a sales letter, learn how to write a sales letter here, it’s a book on How to Write Copy that Sells by Ray Edwards that is now my bible when it comes to writing copy. And what better way to apply this than through selling yourself as a candidate. With some tweaks of course. And then make sure you also do the below to make sure you are not chasing up the wrong tree.
1. Find out if they are really looking for someone
2. Trust your gut, if you get that feeling in the pit of your stomach that you don’t meet the minimum requirements, don’t apply
3. Reach out if you have questions
4. And don’t forget to write your cover letter like a sales letter
What’s your one trick for getting called in for an interview?
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Ignore These 3 Things And Your Business Doesn’t Stand A Chance
Give them their due, and you’ll be singing all the way to the bank
A few days ago I had a very enlightening Business Breakthrough session with a young entrepreneur. They’ve been in business for 5 years but have not been seeing the growth that they wanted to see. And the main thing they knew they should have been doing more of, without a doubt, was marketing.
It reminded me of my family’s recent Easter trip away. We decided with only 3 days to go that we needed a break from the grind (I don’t recommend this to anyone, last minute holidays are not as sexy as they sound). We bought the tickets and booked the place to stay only 48 hours to our departure, it was like a scene from the Fast and the Furious! Now, usually when booking a vacation place I’ll window shop like mad before I settle on one. We’re talking Booking.com, TripAdvisor, Airbnb and Expedia — which is my absolute favorite for flights, but thats another story. The thing was, this time for some reason I made a bee-line to Airbnb and booked on there. Later on, once we arrived at our holiday destination, I could not stop kicking myself. See, I went back on Booking.com and found many other places that would have been a great fit for our family and at a much better price point. I had classic buyers remorse. But what puzzled me was just why I did not look at the other sites like I usually did.
We rent out our vacation home Upani in Diani on Airbnb. We actually get at least 50% of our bookings on Airbnb, so I am always on the site, in one form or another. Responding to enquiries, sending enquiries or checking out the competition (you know you do it too). So when I needed to rent a place for our family’s holiday, it was natural to go back to Airbnb, they were “top of mind”, as online marketing experts like to call it.
Never mind that their deals may not have been the best ones price wise. They were top of mind. And there-in lies the power of marketing.
You want to be top of mind for all your potential customers.
In fact there are three things you can’t ignore if you want your business to flourish. Whether it’s only just getting off the ground, or you are deciding if you will take a new path. These three things are your Mindset, your Message, and your Marketing.
And the greatest of these is marketing. The way in which you will share the other two with the world.
I credit Mike Kim for this particular lesson. He has the number one podcast in personal branding on iTunes. I recently attended an online bootcamp that he put together and it was phenomenal. You should totally check it out on his site if you get a chance, it’s amazing. In the bootcamp he outlines these 3 things as the main pillars of your success as an entrepreneur and I 100% agree with this since it represents most of what brought me success in business early on.
Marketing is the reason that Trump made it to the White House despite not being the most popular candidate. He was undeniably top of mind. It’s how you will let your customers know about your products. And get this — it even trumps price when rubber meets the road and your client needs your service like yesterday, pun very much intended! Plus do you doubt that the world listens when he tweets?
The number one way of being top of mind with your current and new prospects is social media.
In one month alone, I got 14.8K tweet impressions of my content on Twitter in Feb 2017.
I consistently see that the more I tweet, the more I’m seen, the more I remain top of mind. And thats money in the bank. In fact, tweeting is how I got my first coaching client. They were not yet on my mailing list, but they followed my tweets, liked what I had to say, reached out and hired me at our first meeting.
But what if you don’t have time OR ideas on what to tweet? There are really great tools available out there that help you 10x your results on social media with 1/10th of the effort. Some of my favorite ones that I use everyday are Buffer, IFTTT.com and Canva. Not a week goes by that I’m not fiddling in Buffer, creating recipes in IFTTT.com or creating graphics in Canva. What I love most about these programs is the ability to ‘set it and forget it’. You can decide on your content for the week, queue that content up, and then sit back as it drip’s out to your social media accounts.
Another product that I just started using last week is Missingletr. I got it through a great deal from Appsumo.com. It auto-generates a years worth of tweets and LinkedIn posts with images and auto-queues them for you. And did I mention it was automatic? Since your time is money, and getting in front of people means money, this will both save you and make you a ton this year.
It may not be available at the life-time offer I got it at by the time you read this but do head on over to Appsumo.com for other great deals that will super charge your marketing.
And do check back for my next post about the next of the 3 things that you can’t afford to ignore.
To your success.