Job Hunting Tips

It’s strange to realize I’ve been a manager at Ye Olde Day Job for more than seven months now. One of the most surreal parts so far has been the process of hiring new employees, doing everything from reviewing applications to writing screening questions to conducting job interviews.

In some ways, it reminds me a little of being an editor. Some stories just aren’t that well-written. Others might not be the right fit for your project. Then there are those that are good, but are they good enough? And of course, I hate the rejection part…

Having done this a few times now, I wanted to pass along a few observations and suggestions. I hope they’re helpful!

Read the Guidelines: When you’re submitting a story, the guidelines are a test. If you submit a 10,000 word story to a market with a 4000-word upper limit, you fail. Same thing with a job application. If the application says to include a cover letter and you don’t, that’s going to cost you. If it asks for a copy of your transcript and you don’t include that, you’re much less likely to get an interview.

Learn to Write Well: I suspect I’m more critical of people’s writing skills than most, but your ability to write complete sentences and paragraphs in your cover letter, to present a clean, grammatically correct resume, these things do make a difference. And whenever possible, ask someone else to review and proofread your material before you send it in.

Research the Employer: This is advice I’ve heard for years. Having sat on the other side of the table, I finally understand why. Not only do you look more invested if you’ve taken a few minutes to study the company online before the interview, but it lets you tailor your interview answers to the company’s specific goals and needs. It really does make you stand out.

Practice: Interviews make a lot of people nervous, even when they’re fully qualified for the job. If you can do practice interviews through your school or a job training program, that will help. If not, get a friend to throw practice questions your way. You can find lots of standard interview questions online.

Make Sure You Understand the Questions: When you’re interviewing, make sure you listen to and answer the whole question. If you’re nervous, it’s easy to get tunnel vision about a particular key word and miss part or all of the question. Wait to hear the entire question, and if you’re unclear about anything, ask them to repeat or clarify.

Be Confident in Your Skills, but Don’t Lie: Don’t be afraid to talk up your strengths and accomplishments. You’re there to make yourself look good! But don’t lie. It won’t end well.