So your job sucks. You could resign yourself to a life of dull (or even miserable) days in the office or you could set aside some time and get a better job. Here are 9 great tips to help you put together a great application, ace the interview, and ultimately work for a company you’ll love rather than hate.
#9 Put Together a Resume That’s Actually Compelling
While I’m no fan of the resume – as they’re often documents skimmed rather than read – they’re still requested by the majority of jobs you’ll come across. You don’t want to reinvent the wheel, but a little creativity can set you apart and help you stand out from the pool. Online tools can be of great help when it comes to creating something a little less ordinary. Visualize.me can create an attractive infographic. Sites like impress.ly/ help you create professional landing pages that can serve as digital resumes. About.me and Wix can be tailored to do the same. Use the tool that suits you best and make sure your page or resume stands out.
Often times it is just as simple as choosing the right font and color. It doesn’t take much to make a resume look nice, so put in that little additional effort to keep yours from ending up in the generic pile.
#8 Ensure Your Resume Isn’t Filled with Common Words and Redundant Phrasing
When writing your resume, you don’t want to use the sort of language that’ll make you sound like everyone else. That means avoiding overused terms (motivated, innovative, dynamic) and cliche phrases (detail orientated, team player, excellent communication skills).
Also, terms like “references available upon request” are implied statements, waste space and do not need to be on your resume. It helps to read your resume from bottom to top to help catch errors, and when you’re done you can run it through RezScore to find out where you can still improve.
#7 Search For A Great Company Rather Than A Position
Getting a great job isn’t just about doing something you enjoy, but also about working in a good environment. That means you want to seek out companies who have a reputation for treating their employees well. You don’t have to apply to Google, or other companies well-known for their great benefits, but just seek out companies that interest you and do a little research.
All you have to do is call them up and talk to pretty much anybody. Just tell them this: “I’m thinking about applying for a job at your company but I wanted to know what it’s like to work there. Would you mind telling me how you like it?” Most people will be happy to share their opinion and if they’re busy you can always schedule a call later. If the company sounds good, you’ve likely just made a friend who you can call back when you’re ready to apply and get some additional help.
#6 Learn To Make Even Your Irrelevant Experience Seem Relevant
I’ve never gotten a job because my previous work experience was particularly relevant, but rather because I learned how to spin my past experience to make it seem relevant. This doesn’t mean I lied, but instead concentrated on tasks in previous positions that were applicable to the job I wanted to get.
If your current job is much different from the one you want, think about anything and everything you’ve done at your current job that’s out of the ordinary. Often you’ll find examples of things that relate to the job you want because you were always excited to do that kind of work if it presented itself where you are now. If not, you can always start creating relevant experience now so you can use it when you’re on your interview.
For example, if you work in a non-creative field but want to become a designer you would have plenty of opportunities. If you make lots of graphs and flow charts, finds ways to make them more attractive. If your company is having an outing, ask to design the flyer. When I worked in customer support, I used to create posters about inside jokes in the office or images based on funny things customers said.
Sometimes I’d show these at interviews if I needed to demonstrate my Photoshop skills. As silly as that sounds, it not only demonstrated my capabilities but also showed how close I was with my team. When you put yourself into you work, you’ll find that your seemingly irrelevant experience can easily be tailored to most of the jobs you’ll apply for. You may have to start lower than you’d like, but if you work hard you’ll work your way up pretty quickly.
(For more tips, read this.)
#3 Dress Well For The Interview
Dressing for the interview doesn’t necessarily mean putting on crisply-ironed formal wear. Depending on the company, they may prefer you came in your everyday attire or just wore something that shows you can look nice without overdoing it. If you’re not sure what you should wear to an interview, just call the company and ask to speak with the human resources department. Let them know you’re coming in for an interview and that you want to know the expected dress code.
In most cases, they’ll be happy to help you out. If you have to go in uninformed, however, business casual is generally a good bet. While nobody really knows what business casual actually is, you’ll be safe in a nice pair of pants and a button down shirt or jumper. Your goal is really to show that you’re capable of grooming yourself and looking presentable. If your clothing fits, is well-ironed, and isn’t something you’d wear around the house you’re probably in good shape.
For some extra assistance, the Dress Code Guide can help you figure out the proper attire.
#4 Know How To Give Great Answers To Common Job Interview Questions
What’s your greatest weakness? It’s an obnoxious question but you’ll hear it on the majority of job interviews in your life, and there are many others where it came from. (There’s plenty of debate on how to answer this question. I’ve always found the best strategy is to pick a skill you are actually bad at that sounds relevant to the job but really isn’t.
Then you come across as honest but your weakness won’t hurt you. You have to answer the questions if you want to get the job, so there are two things you want to do: understand the motivation behind the questions and prepare your answers in advance.
Understanding the motivation is generally as simple as putting yourself in the company’s shoes. Why would they want to know your greatest weakness? Probably more to know how you respond to a question that asks you to be vulnerable than to actually find out where you can improve. They may also ask because they want to know if you can realistically gauge your abilities accurately. Once you consider the motivation behind these common questions it’ll be easier to tailor the answers you want to give.
You don’t want to script them out and memorise them in advance, of course, but developing a list of sound bites can help you go in prepared while still being able to provide natural responses.
#5 Learn To Read Body Language
Learning to read body language is helpful in a lot of situations, but understanding the cues you send out and reading cues from others can be immensely helpful in a job interview.
It’s especially important that you come of as pleasant and charming right off the bat because many decisions are made on the basis of a first impression. The most important thing is to avoid negative body language. You just want to avoid nervous ticks like touching your face and letting your leg become restless. You also don’t want to slouch or sit to rigidly. Basically, your goal is to appear comfortable but professional. If you can do that, you’ll be in good shape.
#2 Negotiate starting pay
Congratulations, you got the job! But you might be throwing away an extra month’s salary if you don’t engage in the age-old tradition of price haggling. Many employees meekly accept whatever salary is offered which is a big mistake. If applying for a competitive job, chances are the company will really want to hire you if you’re chosen and they may be willing to pay you a little bit extra to get you on board.
All you have to do is ask if they’re negotiable on the offered salary. You’re not demanding more money, but simply asking the question. They’ve already offered you a contract so there’s no risk here. The worst that can happen is they will inform you this is the maximum they are able to offer. As long as you weren’t pushy there’s likely no harm done. It’s one of those low-risk questions that can often yield a high reward.
#1 Leave Your Current Job Without Burning Any Bridges
If you hate your current job, it can be tempting to let everyone know it when you leave. As cathartic as that may seem, it’ll cause you trouble down the line. You want to leave your current company on good terms. You never know when you may encounter a coworker again or need to call that company for information or a favour.
Burning bridges simply isn’t in your best interest. If you hate your job so much that you’re afraid of saying the wrong thing, however, you can reference these sample resignation letters and read tips on how to resign gracefully. Before you quit for real, run your plan by a friend or two to gauge their reaction. It always helps to have a few outside opinions to help ensure you don’t make a mistake you’ll regret.
This story has been updated since its original publication.