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Seeking opportunity – taking initiative in landing your next job

Everyone can show initiative

So you have no experience, knowledge or skills? You can’t possibly show initiative until someone “trains” you, right? Wrong.

You, more than anyone else, will need to show initiative, to get your first position, exactly because you have little training or experience. It’s called hustle. You can do a lot of little things to demonstrate initiative even without a lot of experience and really position yourself for success

Pre-Preparation

PPPPPP – Prior Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance

Invest in preparation; all of the little things that will tip the scale in your favor when you are applying for a position and put you ahead of the competition.

  • Further your English proficiency in a demonstrable way
    • Enroll in a program or otherwise take classes
    • Get certifications, scores, grades or some other tangible proof of your proficiency
    • If you do nothing else, create a group of your friends and name it, and meet every week to speak in English and correct each other. Add the name of this “group” to your LinkedIn profile
  • Improve your English typing speed
    • Take online typing classes
    • Certify, verify your typing speed and put it on your resume. Do you know what your typing speed is in English? If not, you should find out and if it isn’t good, work on improving it
  • Invest in self-promotion
    • Update your LinkedIn profile and try post weekly in LinkedIn in English
    • Have a resume available for the job you want in English
    • Add all activities, groups, etc to your resume
    • Ask people for written references and/or if they would be willing to provide phone references
  • Don’t have a job, have extra time on your hands?
    • Volunteer for a group, charity etc. It can make your resume look better and add valuable experience.
    • Add this to your resume, LinkedIn profile
  • Read some books about business, success, motivation etc
  • Improve your US cultural awareness
    • Watch as many US TV shows and movies as you can. This will both improve your English and your cultural awareness, aptitude which will be helpful when engaging with prospective employers from the US
  • Teach yourself a skill whether it be coding, web design, network admin. You don’t need to go to school, take a class etc. With some dedication and hard work, you can teach yourself. Here is a story of one guy who did
  • Spell and grammar check your resume, then re-check and re-check and re-check. Then have other people check it
  • Create different versions of your resume for different types of positions
  • Create a cover/intro letter, one for each type of position
  • Follow people you are targeting for employment or networking on LinkedIn and then
    • Like their posts, without over-doing it
    • Then after a month, engage with some posts with thoughtful comments, validation of their posts etc. Continue this engagement through for the duration
    • Make sure to post content, yourself, that may resonate with people that may see it. A good way to do this is to share helpful articles you have read with some comments. “I found this to be a very helpful and informative article because it provided insights into improving my productivity that really worked!”
    • Then after another month, send them a well thought out connection invitation indicating that you have really benefitted/learned from their content on LinkedIn
    • Continue to post, engage
    • After another month, endorse them for some relevant skills – not more than 2-3
    • Then when you see a good opportunity to make a move, like seeing or hearing of a job posting at the company, reach out via a message to ask them to consider you, including resume etc
    • Note: For this to be done right, it takes a long time, so the best time to start is NOW.

Next step to success

80% of success is just showing up – Woody Allen

Now that you’ve demonstrated some initiative and are ready for an opportunity, it is time to lean forward.

Apply to all jobs that you can, availing all means e.g. job boards, your personal network, job fairs etc. It is critical to “pound the pavement” and not stop until you’ve secured a position

Expand your network. Volunteering, classes and LinkedIn are all good opportunities

Don’t wait for someone to knock on your door. Show up at theirs.

But the other 20% is important too

Don’t just show up with your hand-outstretched. Being proactive is …

  • Thoroughly gathering all available information BEFORE asking questions. Nobody has time to provide you information that is already publicly available
  • Don’t immediately ask to be trained. Unless you are applying to a training program, the employer will expect you to be trained, or at least to add value … that is why they will be giving you money for
  • Tailor your presentation to the requirements of the job. If the job requires travel, then you’ve got itchy feet. If the job asks for English proficiency, highlight the aforementioned skills and knowledge.
  • Take time to research the company and demonstrate your knowledge. People are narcissistic, they love it when people learn/talk about them and their company. It is a great way to build rapport and good will
  • Take the perspective that you are there to help them. Frame everything in terms of what you can do for them/the company. What value can you add? What impact can you make? How hard will you work? Remember, they are basing their decision on their own self-interest. You can think about your self interest *after* you have been offered the job
  • You can’t guarantee success but you can guarantee that you will put in more effort to learn and succeed in the position than any other new hires and that if you need to learn something, you will invest the time, before, during and/or after work to learn it. A nice trick is to say that, if hired, you will be the first one in and the last to leave

Things you must do

  • Always attach your resume. Remember, you will get one chance to send something in, make sure you send everything. Leave anything out, and you might not get a chance to include it
  • Include a cover letter
  • Always mention something you learned about the company and, even better, the person you are engaging with, ideally in a complimentary way e.g. “I see you are a graduate of So-and-so university. My uncle went there and I know it is a fine institution”. This is called an “ice breaker” and may get you to the top of the stack.
  • Indicate that you are happy to provide references upon request (this allows you to notify your references first)

Possible add-ons

  • Always indicate that you will be happy to interview, in person, or virtually any time, any place on short notice
  • Indicate that you understand that the person may be busy, but that you may helpfully follow-up in a few days via email, if you haven’t heard back. That means your follow-up email, and even a call won’t come as a surprise because you can say “I’m a (wo)man of my word, and, as I indicated, I’m helpfully following up! :)”
  • Indicate that you are so confident that they will be happy with your efforts, that you would gladly accept a trial period to demonstrate your worth, before full compensation and benefits are provided

In your interview

  • Bring multiple hard copies of your resume
  • Have written references available
  • Show up early
  • Be well dressed
  • Be pleasant and greet everyone you meet
  • Use a firm handshake
  • Send a thank you email within 1 hour of end of interview
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