Job Hunting is No Picnic…or is it?

Searching for and securing your perfect job isn’t fun. The process of finding your dream job can leave you feeling depressed, dejected, and downright down on yourself. In other words, it’s no picnic. Or is it?

Picture a picnic basket. Your basic picnic basket is made up of five components: blanket, food, drink, service-ware, and the basket itself. In order to have a perfect picnic, you need to have (at least) all of the basic components.

Similarly, when job hunting, you need to make sure you have all the basics. Let’s think metaphorically… Your blanket is your resume; it’s the foundation of your search. Your food is the research you’re going to do that makes you stand out from the crowd. Your beverage-of-choice is practice, practice, practice. Your service-ware is made up of the tools that you’re given by your Job Shop recruiter. Finally, the basket is how you present yourself before, during, and after the interview.

  1. Rest upon your resume. Your resume is the blanket of your job search. You wouldn’t unpack your picnic on a dirty blanket, or a blanket with holes. You want a clean, sturdy blanket that’s also aesthetically pleasing. The same goes for your resume. Your resume must be perfect. Proof it. Proof it again. Ask your friend who majored in English: Writing and Composition to proof it. Ask your Job Shop recruiter for his/her opinion. Do whatever it takes to make your resume flawless in every way.
  2. Feed your mind. Do your homework. You’ve been hearing that since grade school and maybe you haven’t heard it in a while. I’ll say it again-do your homework! You spend hours on the Internet anyway, so make a few of them productive. Study up on companies that you would love to work for. This is even more important once you’ve secured an interview. There are three major benefits of/reasons for doing your homework: because you need to learn if you really want to work for the company; because you want to be able to wow and amaze your interviewer with your knowledge of the company; and because your competition is doing it.
  3. Take practice shots. I know you’ve been on job interviews before. I know that you know all of the tough questions. I know that you already have all of your answers prepped. I know that you have a mental list of all of the brilliant questions that you’re going to ask. And I know that one or two of you have choked during an interview that you should have aced. How do you avoid such interview wreckage in the future? Practice! Ask your frustrated actor friends (or your partner, or your mom, or anyone you can trust to give you honest, constructive criticism) to role-play a job interview with you. Give your “interviewer” a list of questions (ask your Job Shop Recruiter for a list of practice questions) and then ask him/her to critique you. Do you sound too nervous? Do your answers come across as contrived? Do you have too many filler words/sounds (“um,” “uh,” etc.) or nervous pauses? Practice really does make perfect…and more importantly, not practicing shows.
  4. Fill your toolbox. Your picnic requires tools-service-ware. Imagine your picnic without plates, cups, forks, and spoons. Enough said. Ask your Job Shop recruiter for the tools that you’ll need for a successful job search. Interview checklists? We’ve got ’em! Lists of tough/commonly asked questions? We’ve got ’em. Rules of interview etiquette? We’ve got ’em. And more. Ask. Take. Use.
  5. Wrap it up! If you’re trying to impress your picnic date, you’re not going to throw everything into a hole-ridden Wal-Mart bag, are you? Of course not! You’re going to use a lovely basket or maybe you’re just going to turn your blanket into a pretty basket by tying the four corners together and…never mind. The point is, presentation counts in picnics and in job interviews. Dress appropriately (one step up from the company’s dress code is the rule of thumb). Show up on time (and by, “on time,” I mean ten minutes early). Know the name/s of the person/people you’re meeting with. Be polite to the receptionist. Offer a handshake that mirrors your interviewer’s style. Say please and thank you. Ask your Job Shop recruiter for a list of interview “dos and don’ts” and memorize it. The old adage is true: you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

Of course, this doesn’t cover everything. Sometimes it rains. Sometimes there are ants. Sometimes your picnic date turns out to be a dud. Life takes unexpected turns and so does your job search. But knowing that you’ve covered the basics at least sets the stage for easy recovery from the unanticipated. Happy picnicking!

By Julie Besaha

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