10 things you MUST DO to bag your dream job offer
Fresh out of college? Here are a few things you must consider while applying for a job for the first time.
The job market for entry-level positions in India is hypercompetitive.
Based on my experience and discussions with professionals in the field, there are a few strategies, which can make a huge impact on an applicant's chances, if followed diligently.
1. Get serious
The first mistake most applicants make is that they don't approach the application process seriously enough.
Just how competitive is it out there?
According to Ruchi Mathur, AVP of HR at Zensar, an IT firm with about 6,000 employees, the company receives 1,000 applications every week from freshers or applicants with less than two years of work experience.
"We receive 20-25 CVs a day and maybe read just one of them," says Anuja Kishore, HR Manager, Teach For India, a leading educational non-profit group. Thus, you should figure out why you really want the job, and what are the reasons that make you eligible for this job.
2. Do the research
Every job posting calls for a unique set of skills and qualifications, and a candidate needs to be intimately familiar with these in order to write a good application.
First, suggests Anuja Kishore, conduct online research about interesting opportunities.
Second, speak to as many people as possible -- cousins, friends, brothers, sisters -- but don't approach them to get a job; approach them to learn what it is to do a job in those companies, the day to day functioning et all.
Understand different job roles in the market, understand what would excite you.
3. Call HR and ask
Once you've done all the independent research you can, don't be afraid to ring the companies themselves to answer your lingering questions.
"Applicants think it's a bad thing to bother HR before you apply, but actually it shows initiative and commitment," says Kishore.
"Nobody minds answering your questions. It may take a while but just persevere."
4. Limit yourself
Anuja Kishore comments, "We see candidates who respond to the competition by applying to a hundred jobs. This doesn't increase their chances. We recognise these applications immediately and discard them."
Once you've done your research and have a strong understanding of what each job would be like on a day-to-day basis, it's time for a thorough introspection.
Understand your strengths and development areas, and honestly ask whether you have what the company is looking for. Try not to get obsessed with the idea of working at a firm because of its name, and focus on what the job would be like -- is it all writing? Coding? Sales calls?
Picture yourself in the job. Apply to the ones that you can see yourself in.
Ten is a better number than one hundred.
5. Build your experience in the meanwhile
A career isn't a race, and you neither can nor should expect to reach your goal quickly.
If you're not yet a competitive candidate, then take steps to build your experience.
Anuja Kishore suggests, "Join a start-up or a smaller company initially. You'll get a more diverse experience in different areas, which will help build up your CV."
6. Illustrate your skills
Today it's remarkably easy to show rather than tell what you can do.
If you're a programmer, then do some side projects to show your skills.
If you are a strong writer, keep a blog. This shows HR managers that you are a self-motivated person, too.
Also, odds are that hiring managers will search for your online footprint. A LinkedIn search might throw up six people who have the same name as you.
Pro-actively producing online content will ensure that your online footprint stands out rather than blending in.
Try and maintain a clean online presence if you happen to be a Facebook or Twitter user.
In fact, if used correctly, these social media networks can also be used to your advantage. For instance, daily posts on Twitter, are almost become the norm for most companies who wish to be in touch with their customers, and more importantly to showcase their latest offerings. You too can market yourself as a brand.
7. Keep your application short, sweet and error-free
Your application should include a one-page CV (or two at the most, if you have over five years of experience).
Include a "short cover letter explaining your interest in the role and why you see a match between your skills and the job," says Ruchi Mathur.
Anuja Kishore adds, "You have about 30 seconds to impress me; if I don't find anything exciting it goes into my trash bin. Yesterday, I saw one (fresher application) that had mentioned skills in blue, experiences in red, and very humbly mentioned how he could contribute. Even though we wanted two years of experience, I couldn't stop myself from calling him."
Using colours is not the important lesson. The key is to know exactly what information is most critical to the person reading your application -- preferably just a few essential sentences -- and to make it as easy as possible for the reader to absorb that information. Wordiness, grammar problems and spelling errors are great ways to distract your reader -- avoid them. If English is not your strong suit, then keep your language as simple as possible, and have a strong English speaker review your writing.
8. Demonstrate commitment through flexibility
Even if you do everything right, the numbers are still stacked against you and you might not get the job.
Demonstrate willingness to do an internship or trial period, if you are hell-bent on working at a particular company. Or in the case of a non-profit, offer to volunteer.
This flexibility shows you're committed to this job and also that you are confident enough in your skills to take the risk that they won't ultimately hire you.
You will also be able to garner a good deal of work experience during this time.
9. Be professional
Most young job candidates have grown up on Facebook, where the communication style is casual.
People jump straight into a message with a cursory, "hey man" or sometimes without any introduction at all and then go on to use modified word forms like "plz" (please), "thxx" (thank you) and "yaaa" (yes).
Keep these words on Facebook and out of your application process.
If you do get a phone call, chances are that the HR manager you're speaking to is a few years older to you and will expect a level of formality in your communication. So don't talk to him or her like you are talking to one of your buddies. It's always better to err on the formal side.
10. Use technology
How technology can help you bag your dream job:
- Thoroughly research the job market online
- Read up about different job profiles
- Search for a job on Naukri.com and other job portals
- Remain up-to-date with the latest job openings using apps on your iPhone or any Android phone
- Maintain a clean and professional online presence
- In today's tech-forward times, use creative multimedia to support your resume, if you want to stand out among the rest