Create your own business cards It may seem strange to create business cards if you’re thinking of changing roles, but if you have an online portfolio, electronic resume or even an up-to-date LinkedIn page, they can help interviewers remember your name and find your work. Design a simple business card with your contact information, applicable social media links and the path to your online samples to hand out to everyone you speak with during the interview process. They’ll serve as an easy reference if they want to follow up with you prior to another meeting or making an offer. Your resume may end up in a stack with others, but a personal business card will be sure to set you apart.
Read about the company instead of spring cleaning: Don’t limit your online research to the company’s website. Take the time to find current news and articles about your prospective employer, the good and the bad. Maybe they’ve recently completed a merger, or won a promising award in the industry that would make a good topic of conversation. Being up to date on a company’s latest news will prove that you care about the direction and trajectory of the organization you’re joining, not just the position you’re applying for. This tactic will also bring to light any existing red flags if they’ve been named a bad place to work or have recently experienced layoffs.
Utilize your reasons for leaving If you’re unhappy in your current position, and interviewing for new opportunities, use the reasons why you’re looking to create better interviewee questions. If you’re unhappy with management, ask “what management tactics do the leaders here practice?” If you didn’t see opportunity for advancement, ask “what’s the career path someone in my role would typically take?” Make sure you’re not using your questions as a venting session, but don’t miss the opportunity to find out more about your potential work environment. By asking better questions, you’ll seem more informed about the industry, but you’ll also be able to determine if you’ll face the same challenges in your new position that you’re managing in your current role.
Don’t proactively point out flaws. You should always have answers ready for gaps in experience or skills that may appear on your resume. If you’ve planned ahead for these questions, you may be tempted to preemptively explain shortcomings to ease the interviewer’s mind. However, you should avoid bringing up any areas of weakness unless you’re specifically asked about them. Maybe a specific skill isn’t critical for the department, or the hiring manager doesn’t question why you would only spend a year at your first job. By bringing up potential red flags, you risk making minor issues seem bigger than they actually are, and you could be making an interviewer more worried about the gaps instead of putting them behind you.
Use your hobbies to talk about skills. You’re probably prepared for most of the standard interview questions about your professional life, but you should also prepare your answers about hobbies and your personal life to highlight other skills you can bring to the position. If you trained for a 5k or half-marathon, you can use that to show dedication and perseverance. If you lead a book club or charity initiative, that shows both planning and leadership skills. While you should mention industry organizations or activities you participate in, don’t focus only on work-specific hobbies. This can make you seem less well rounded. Most importantly, don’t talk about a hobby you’re not active in to try and appear more interesting or adventurous. You don’t want to be caught off guard by any follow-up questions.
Wait to give your two weeks. If you’re interviewing for a new position and it seems promising, you might be tempted to put in your two weeks now, and take some time off while finalizing details at your new company. However, you should wait until you have a few things in place before telling anyone you’re leaving. Make sure you have a written, signed and firm acceptance letter in hand from your new company. 13% of employers say they’ve pulled an offer during negotiations, so while it may seem like a sure thing, don’t assume you’ve got the job before it’s absolutely final. Also, make sure you have any files, emails and contacts that you’ll want (within your legal rights) before you announce your departure. Certain industries will end your employment immediately upon your announcement – particularly if you work with proprietary information. So don’t assume you’ll get to go back to your desk to gather files or portfolio pieces after you speak with Human Resources.
Practice patience with the process. When you’re in the hiring process, it’s important to follow up, but don’t be too pushy about hearing back. If securing a start date seems like it’s taking longer than ever, that’s probably because it is. Fast Company says that the average hiring process from first interview to first day now takes around 23 days on average. That’s up significantly from the average of 13 days that it took only four years ago. Be sure to send thank you notes to all of the interviewers you meet with, but resist the urge to send additional communications asking about next steps or inquiring on whether or not they’ve made a decision.
You need friends in high places. Referrals are critically important when searching for a new job. Referred candidates are hired over their non-referred counterparts about two out of three times. But your referral becomes even more valuable the higher they are within the company. If your reference is working in an entry-level position, your chance of being offered the job is around 53%, but if you can secure a reference from someone in a director-level position or higher, those odds skyrocket to nearly 91%. If you’re applying with a company and have a few references to choose from, always choose your higher-ranking acquaintance.
Get advice from a hiring pro If you have a friend or family member who is responsible for hiring new employees, ask them to look over your resume. They’ll be able to tell you what questions they would ask you during an interview and highlight any concerning spots or missing information. Even if they aren’t in your field, they’ll be able to offer advice from the perspective of a hiring manager and help you see yourself from the position of your potential employer. Ask if they’d be willing to do a practice interview to help you prepare answers to any potentially tricky questions. Send them the thank you note that you’d typically send after an interview and they can critique that too!
Don’t jeopardize your current role Interviewing for a new job can involve a lot of interviews, phone calls and distractions. If you’re already in a position, you could be asking for trouble if you’re current employer finds out you’re looking for a change. To avoid any red flags, tell your potential new employer about your situation. Ask them if email will work for communication, instead of phone calls. If you need to meet face-to-face, ask if they could set up a time before work, or after hours. This will draw less suspicion than long-lunch breaks or suddenly frequent “doctors appointments.” If you need to do multiple interviews, ask if they can all be scheduled in a single day and take the day off your current job to take care of them. You don’t want to hurt your position at a current job hoping for a new one. Luckily, most potential employers will do their best to understand and accommodate.