SKILLS DEVELOPMENT / 24 July 2020Soft Skills: Why They are Harder Than You Think and How You Can Acquire Them
Growing up, parents and grandparents (and aunts and uncles, older cousins, etc.) love to tell stories about how working builds character and how you need to study and work hard in school so you can get a good job later on. They share their wonderful experiences getting hired for the summer at the local ice cream shop, diner or fast food restaurant, you name it. In sharing their memories of these past jobs, they detail how it built their work ethic, character, responsibility, and independence. All the less pleasant, sometimes downright bad, experiences they went through while on the job helped make them who they are today.
So, what about when you DON’T get the job? What do you do when all the effort you are putting into your own job hunt doesn’t really seem to be paying off? With all the tips on how to prepare to “sell yourself” in job interviews, why does it seem like no one talks in detail about all the interviews they went through where they didn’t get the job--the interviews after which they didn’t even receive a follow-up interaction? How did they find the job they finally ended up at?
BEFORE THE INTERVIEW
1. Have a good attitude and realistic expectations
In this day and age, no matter if it’s shelter, food, basic necessities, money--it seems like there is never enough to go around. No wonder we all want to land the perfect job right off the bat. Getting into the right job on your first try is the exception more than the rule, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still apply for the jobs you want.
Just remember not to pass up all the entry-level jobs and internships available to you on your way up the career ladder! Entry-level jobs exist for a reason; they are a critical way to get your foot in the door of your dream career as well as being great networking experiences that open up even more opportunities you may never have considered before.
Be aware of your own worth. Figure out what the skills you already possess are worth in your career and don’t be afraid to ask for what you think is fair compensation, in terms of not only money but also respect. At the same time, be aware of others’ worth and give the same kind of respect to all others as you expect from them. Never be demanding as an interviewee, but don’t be timid either! If the fit is right all around (the job for you and vice versa), there will be less to compromise on.
2. “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket”
When you are ready to interview, search for positions at multiple companies. Of course you want to land your dream job, but remember that is the exception more so than the rule. If you only give yourself one shot you will have a lot more disappointment to deal with. Besides, the more companies you apply for, the more options you give yourself when job offers are actually made.
Once you have your list of companies you want to apply for, make sure you have a general resume ready to customize for each of those postings. If all the jobs are the same type, great! There should be less customization needed, which will help you be more efficient with your time.
If you happen upon a listing you like, even if it’s not the same type of job you first had in mind or you feel like you are not completely qualified for it—apply anyway! At the least, you might still get an interview and at the most, you may end up with a job offer after all. If the fit is right, it will work out.
3. Always be kind and gracious in your interactions
Even if the job you are applying for will not require you to be in daily contact with other people, you will at least need enough social skills to not only get through your interview but to have as good an interview as possible.
On the other hand, there are several jobs where you will have to be in constant contact with other people and you need to be able to get along with individuals in all different types of roles. You should keep in mind that as an employee of any company, you are a member of a team. If even one member of the team does not work well with any of the other team members, work efficiency will suffer when problems arise between the individuals.
People are always watching how you act, especially when you walk into an interview. If you don’t make a good impression on everyone you meet before, during and after your interview there will be opinions exchanged that can prevent you from receiving another interview, let alone a job offer. Remember the importance of a good character.
AFTER THE INTERVIEW
4. Don’t overthink and don’t panic
If you don’t receive a confirmation on completion of your interview when to expect a call (or email) back to return for either another interview or accept a job offer, don’t be afraid to confirm right before you walk out! You don’t want to waste time just hoping and waiting for an interview for days after it happened, especially if you thought it went well.
You shouldn’t be too worried anyway, as long as you have already applied to multiple jobs and received their multiple invitations to interview. Keeping busy with multiple interviews will keep you busy enough that you shouldn’t have much time for worrying.
5. Follow Up
Send an email to the interviewers. Thank them for the opportunity to apply, and don't be afraid to ask them to keep you in mind for any opportunities in the future. It shows the employer that you have no hard feelings and that you would still be interested if they had any job openings. You can also ask for feedback to see where things went wrong or to know why you were not a good fit. This will help you with any future interviews.
6. Ask for feedback
One of the worst things about applying for jobs is wondering why you didn't get the job. Was it something you said? Was it typos on your resume? Did they just not connect with you? Perhaps you need to expand skills, experience or education. If that is the case then you can plan accordingly. You can check ProSky out to help you gain more experience or to help gain more skills. Maybe they really liked you but the position wasn't the right fit. You will want to keep in touch because you never know when the right position will come up.
7. Never give up
Interviewing can be exhausting, especially if you’ve been to several and haven’t heard anything back from many of them. Don't give up on yourself. There will always be more opportunities, but you will miss them if you are too hung up on disappointment over the opportunities that you missed!
In sports, it is often said that “the best defense is a good offense”--you can use the same mentality with job hunting and interviews; the best way to avoid pitfalls like disappointment and feeling like a failure is to prepare a detailed “plan of attack” so to speak. Make sure you are prepared in the first place, no matter the scenario. Proper preparation will allow you to handle the outcome of any interview, whether that outcome is positive or negative.
Preparation includes always updating your “plan of attack” by using resources like insight and/or feedback from previous experiences. Don’t be afraid of yourself, and don’t be afraid of what others’ impressions of you are--just get out there and slay those interviews so you can make it to your dream job one day (maybe sooner than later)!
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