Unleash your creativity to convert no to yes. What to do when you really want an interview and the conventional methods aren’t working? Open your mind to all of the possibilities for enticing the person you need an interview with to let you have some of their time. Is the person you need an interview with devoted to a certain charity? Offer to donate 20 hours of volunteer work to that organization in exchange for an interview! As an employer, I’d be tickled at the originality, flattered that the candidate did their research and wants to do something to help the community (and make me look good in the process), and I’d want to give that person a chance because I’d feel like I’ve got a real problem solver on my hands—someone willing to go the extra mile. Keep in mind that some of the deepest employer fears are that you’ll drain resources, create more problems than you’ll solve, and do the minimum to collect a paycheck. Your offer—if you follow through—communicates to the employer loud and clear that you’re a hard worker and an imaginative resourceful person who doesn’t give up easily which should put you ahead of 90% of the other candidates.
Convert no into know. If you interviewed and didn’t get a job, politely follow up and find out whatever you can from the company that turned you down. Most will be apt to be tight-lipped but you might find someone with the heart to give you valuable feedback if they feel confident that your heart is in the right place (and that you’re not going to sue them!). The recruiter who helped you to get the interview, someone you know who works for the company, or a friend may also be able to help you deconstruct what went wrong and help you polish your skills for your next interview. (BTW, there’s a good chance that nothing went wrong and that the employer simply hired someone internally or hired the person they had their heart set on to begin with–possibly a friend–and interviewed others only to fulfill legal requirements). You can even try reaching out to the winning candidate. No one is going to be more happy to talk about their winning interview than the excited and proud new employee! (Most people are gracious and will assist you if you ask for help and it’s clear that your motivation is to raise your own awareness, not point fingers.)
Take pride in having good character even if it costs you a job. Be straightforward, honest, and direct in all of your dealings. Even when the employer hires a charmer who lied through their teeth but got the job due to being savvy and convincing, it could catch up with you when the employer fires that person and revisits your application. Be confident, not only in your skills but in your character. Employers are as concerned that you have the hard skills for the job as they are that you’ll actually show up, that you’ll be honest, that you’ll play well with others…all of those “Everything I Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” kinds of things that you probably take for granted about yourself.
Spend time clarifying your value proposition. What do you have to offer? If you’re into words like I am, make a list. If you’re visual, start scribbling and see what comes out. If you’re a thespian, act it out. Then once you’ve done a brain dump on this topic in the medium of your choice, synthesize the data and drill down until you end up with a pithy statement of your core competencies. Next: What do you want to offer your employer and the world in your next work experience? Again, feel and record this in its fullness then narrow it down, integrating all of the pieces until you’ve distilled a single sentence or two to describe what you want to offer in your next employment experience. With this information, make business cards and brand your online identity. (No, you don’t need to wait until you land the job to have a professional looking business card.)