Please don’t read this if you’re overjoyed with your employment situation or secure in the knowledge that your job will be there for you next week, next month, next year. Don’t read it, seriously. You are obviously one of the chosen few who have no need of benefiting from the advice offered in this article, proven time and again to have helped job seekers.
But, if you are among the many who find themselves uncertain about your future employment and career, answer the following question: do you want a higher paying job? Don’t answer immediately; you may want to think about this for a bit; there are advantages to being stuck in a dead-end, low-salaried position. For instance, think about…
Being content to slave for the rest of your life for a company that devalues your worth as an employee and a human being. Hey, you can stimulate the economy; specifically, the coffers of a licensed psychiatrist whose services you may wish to access as a direct result of your current job. The shrink will no doubt advise you that all masochists think as you do and to prove it, she’ll point to that lovely embroidered sampler above her desk, the one that reads “Misery loves company.”
Think about returning home every evening exhausted in body and spirit to face yet another pile of bills. Why fret when you can turn those bills into something useful, fun, and environmentally sound? Make a nice bonfire with them! You’ll save on heating bills and if you invite your neighbors over to roast marshmallows over the blaze, you’ll be the, ahem, toast of the town.
Think about being passed over for a promotion and a raise as that younger, cuter, skinnier kid with the big mouth, phony-baloney mega-smile, and pricey braces snatches it right out from under your nose. His time will come. So what if he’s got the bigger office, better view, the assistant you were denied, and the higher paycheck now? In twenty years, that kid will be where you are. Karma happens, so rejoice.
What? You’re still fuming, boiling, and/or contemplating that leap out the window although your office is right above the lobby? Must you live this way? Heck, no! Open the nearest window (no, not to bungee jump without the paraphernalia). Instead, do your best impersonation of Peter Finch as Howard Beale in Network. You never saw the movie? Never fear. A mature (older) news anchor for a television network, Beale, about to be displaced from his job, shouts from a high rise window to the world “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not gonna take it any more!” You’re too shy to scream like a banshee and make a spectacle of yourself? Don’t fret: you don’t have to. But, if you’re serious about taking control of your career, put that intention into action. The following are but a few suggestions you may wish to consider, in striving to join those who have landed better paying, more fulfilling work:
- Plan — yes, methodically plan! — and then write the most compelling resume and cover letter that you can conceive, and don’t lie. Trust us, your future employer will conduct a thorough background investigation; if he uncovers inaccuracies on your resume, he will yank the job offer before the ink has dried … right after you’ve given notice to your current employer, of course.
- Do brag, in a professional way. Showcase some — not all! — of your accomplishments. You say you have no accomplishments? News flash: we all have them. You’re simply not viewing your achievements as such. Locate them, clarify them, and highlight them on your resume if you want to appear more than the garden-variety type of employee as you compete with thousands for your new job.
- Include a cover letter. Go on, do it — don’t skip this important step. A well-crafted cover letter explains why you want a particular job, why you respect the company, and what you can bring to the table. Often, a strong cover letter is the make or break factor in a manager’s search for the best job candidate.
- Don’t walk in blindly. Research the company prior to the interview in order to have something meaningful (translation: intelligent) to share on their interview. Know what you are walking into: the interview is actually an information-sharing session as well as a professional once-over by the prospective employer. Share information other than the data that appears on your resume. Let the employer know what you can contribute, based upon your analysis of the company’s mission, product/service line, and initiatives as well as your own competencies.
- Don’t fumble around the Internet. Use your PC or Mac to maximize your opportunities by accessing both the overt and the hidden job markets. You didn’t know there was a hidden job market? Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, and yes, Mr. and Ms. Job Hopefuls, there is a hidden job market. With a bit of focus and creativity, you can capitalize upon it and perhaps even land the job of your dreams!
- Dress the part. We know: you’ve grown attached to those ratty old sweatpants and pajama top in which you usually tumble out of bed in order to hit the computer running. That bonfire you started for your bills and the enjoyment of your neighbors: toss the sweats and PJ top onto it. Invest in a suit, yes a suit, and if you can’t afford one, secure help in procuring one.