Searching for a job has become a real hunting game, and digitalization has brought many new variables. Some years ago, it was possible to simply send an open application or register to a CV database of a big organization and make it to the interview. I sincerely doubt that this happens anymore.
Increased unemployment has touched all of us on some level as the employment rates all over Europe have been on the rise during recent years. This is why I want to look into the opportunities and practicalities of a winning employment process. Did you know that surprisingly, many successful journeys have started precisely during and even because of difficult economic times? Forbes has gone so far as to list 10 good reasons to start a new business during a downturn. So here we go, six tips for catching your dream job:
1. Be brave and contact the decision-makers directly
An email or an open application simply doesn’t cut it. In my opinion, the whole concept of the "open application" is a waste of time. The decision-makers in any organization are most likely to be in a constant hurry and have an overwhelming to-do list. This kind of work relies on incessant prioritization and the most important thing will never be browsing through random open applications.
A recruitment professional Janne Ruohisto has said that 90% of all job applicants are using their time at official applying channels searching for open positions when 90% of all employers are using their time searching unofficial channels, networks and evaluating their current employees’ potential for new positions. It means that these two parties looking for each other are using only 10% of their time in the same waters. Events, phone, social media, handwritten letter and even visiting the potential hiring organization without any scheduled meeting are much better ways to look for a new job than sending open applications.
The first goal of your winning employment process is to open the conversation. A very successful Finnish serial entrepreneur and author Mika Mäkeläinen describes in his book Heaven+Hell how during his early career he used to walk a certain street back and forth for days just to meet the person he wanted to meet ‘by coincidence’. Be brave!
“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”
- Helen Keller
2. Tell what you are good at and how would you benefit the employer
We are all good at something. If you haven’t found your professional strengths yet, think about them through your hobbies and things you like to do. The more you do an honest self-reflection, the better you are in deciding what you want to be good at. You can really tell from a person if they have truly decided to succeed at something in life, and this decision gives extremely good competitive advantage when hunting a job.
The next step is to think about how you can make money with your strengths. Almost every commercially successful organization or individual is focused on helping other people on some level. So think about an industry, a country, a city or simply your own neighborhood and how you could make something for the people there better, faster, cheaper, with less effort etc. Many lifelong journeys have begun by using this simple path of thought. Thinking from this perspective, too many job applications are written from too general perspective and don’t focus on any business critical activity. This is often the reason why such applications won’t open the doors even to the first conversation. So think in advance before approaching the employer about how your skill set will bring serious additional value (often money) for that prospected employer. And remember, we all have an unlimited potential within us!
3. Study and learn everyday, it doesn’t require any position or money
In many countries formal qualifications are highly valued, especially university studies. Sometimes I feel like the formality aspect is overrated and the actual potential or skillset is underrated. For example, If you start looking at the backgrounds of successful entrepreneurs, you’ll discover that a surprising amount haven’t finished their formal studies. But, each and every one of them has learned their way to constantly study and learn new thing. Today, the three most important things needed for efficient learning are passion, determination and an internet connection. If you have these you can learn anything!
There are three simple steps that help you choose where to put your efforts. First, define what field you want to be the best in, and be as detailed as possible. Second, after deciding what you truly want to learn, make yourself a purposeful study plan and never give up on it. Third, you have to learn what the most efficient way is for you to learn. Today there are numerous different ways to educate yourself like audio books, digital books, Youtube lessons, webinars, online courses etc. The amount of free and available learning material online is astonishing. Also remember that the best people always have some mentors around them, so if you haven’t got any yet now is a good time to get some. If you have difficulties finding your passion read this.
4. Show your passion and take responsibility for your own motivation
Imagine yourself interviewing a person who you know to be a top talent but his voice is gloomy and his energy levels are low. For some reason, it’s very hard to get excited about the talent in this kind of a meeting. So keep yourself energetic by taking care of your physical condition by exercising regularly, sleeping well and eating healthy. Mental wellbeing creates the other half of your energy reserves so have also some time off from work and spend that with your family, friends, hobbies and anything that gives you good vibes and a relaxed feeling.
When the basic cornerstones of life are in the right places, you will most likely be energetic, motivated and positively attuned. In my opinion self-motivation should be like brushing your teeth – twice a day keeps the negativity away! You can start right now by watching the short version of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s early life story.
“If I can see it and believe it, then I can achieve it.”
- Arnold Schwarzenegger
5. Explore the unknown and search companions with matching values
Soul searching is the road to success, humility and gratitude. If you haven’t figured out your own values yet, I strongly suggest you to do so. You can start by thinking about what really means something for you in this life and what you feel is important. You most likely won’t find them overnight so give this process some time and put some serious effort on it. Once you have found who you really are, what you feel passionate about and what are your true values, you can start searching for the matching companion. Remember that this has nothing to do with your age, gender, background or anything else except values.
It may sound strange at first but if you really think about this matter it’s obvious that working in a team with a divergent value base will not stand the test of time. Now, when you start searching for your new job based on your values, you may find yourself in a completely new industry and profession. It may also require moving to another country, so be prepared to explore the unknown! Also, consider seriously becoming an entrepreneur. More and more workplaces are already present in an entrepreneurial manner and salaries are paid according to performance, not so much on the basis of hours worked.
6. Always be networking
Your personal network is always the strongest and most unique channel to search for business partners whether they were customers or co-workers. There is no such thing as too big of a network, so connect with new people every time there’s an opportunity for it. In my opinion, it’s very hard to network naturally if you are needy. Everyone can tell if someone is networking just to gain something. So be genuinely interested in other people and search for a discussion anytime and anywhere but do so without any urgent needs.
You never know who are you going to meet and where your new acquaintances are going to take you. The world is now extremely connected and it’s super easy to build your network, for example, by using LinkedIn and Twitter. Many companies want to hire good networkers and people with strong personal brands. If you want to learn more about personal branding read this blog post by Ville Tolvanen, Forbes Top 3 Influential CMO.
by Sami Kivensalo, COO
Psst. Download our free guide "How to measure enthusiasm at your workplace".
Written by Sami Kivensalo
COO at ZEF, adventuring life with warrior's heart and entrepreneur's mind. Passion for tech, sales, marketing, leadership, culture and product development. Also quite decent badminton player and guitar shredder.