This post is in partnership with Megabus, thank you for supporting brands who support TCM. As always, all thoughts, opinions, experience, and advice is my own.
Last week I had the opportunity to travel with Megabus as part of their Career Coach Program! Megabus is a safe, convenient, and low cost bus service. It takes you from city-center to city-center on an awesome double decker bus! They have free Wi-Fi, outlets to charge all your tech, and tickets starting as low as $1!! I was so surprised to see how cost effective it was to get from Fort Lauderdale to Orlando (just over $20!).
Their Career Coach Program aims to help job seekers expand their search while giving them the training and tools they need to land a new gig. Since, LBH, it can be hard to find work sometimes, especially if it's outside your city. They offered free round-trip tickets across the country for job seekers – how cool!? Interviewees could complete entry here to receive a redemption code for 1 free round-trip ticket.
Planning for the ride reminded me just how much I love helping job seekers! I knew I had to share some of the tips I prepped for the riders with you guys too! So without further adieu…
The Best 10 Uncommon Job Seeking Tips That Will Actually Help
1. Tap into the hidden job market
Did you know that 80% of jobs are never posted online?!? Meaning if you're spending all your time combing job posting sites, you're actually doing yourself a huge disservice and missing out on so many opportunities! Instead, focus on building connections. Talk to the people in your existing network about what you're looking for and to keep you in mind if they hear of any opening positions. Often times, new hires come from past connections, not a cold resume in a pile of 600 others.
2. Clean up your digital footprint
When was the last time you opened up an incognito/hidden browser window and typed your name into Google? Hopefully it was right before you started your job search! I recommend people Google themselves and check out all of their social media profiles from an incognito/hidden browser window since that's most likely what a random person will stumble upon if they searched you. – Meaning if you do it from your normal browser, because of how cookies work, it'll show you results that you're most likely looking for based on things you've clicked in the past. This gives you an opportunity to take down anything you don't want others to see or be prepared for what others might come across and decide how you want to handle it moving forward.
3. Optimize your resume
Ideally, every resume you submit will be tailored to every job. Meaning you never submit the exact same two resumes, ever. I know that sounds a bit exhausting, but if you're applying for jobs online it's especially crucial due to ATS (automatic tracking systems) that filter for key words in your resume.
One fun little hack when applying to jobs online, is to put the job posting through a word cloud like this, and then see which words they most commonly used in the posting. Whatever the top three or so words are should 100% be integrated into your resume! This increases the likelihood you're hitting on their keyword filters.
4. Expand your efforts
If you're not tied to your city consider finally taking that leap to the city you've always wanted to live in and expand your job search efforts there. For example, how Megabus is running their career coaching program really allows job seekers to network with one another on the ride to expanding their efforts in new cities.
If you're tied to your city, consider asking people to introduce you to others in your industry for networking coffee dates. Or check out local meetups for professional networking events. Often times there's more going on in our cities then we realize so be sure think outside your routine.
5. Take notice of opportunities
In any given day, chances are you're meeting a new person, having a chance encounter, or at least you could be. Every person you talk with is a networking opportunity. Take note when you're being invited to share a bit of your story and where you're at. For instance, if someone asked you “what do you do?” or “tell me about yourself?” How would you respond?
PRO TIP: Close with a goal statement or actionable ask! For instance, “Currently, I'm looking for a software sales position at a company with long term growth potential. If you know of anyone in that industry or a company like that, I'd love to hear more about it!”
6. Prep accordingly for the day of the interview.
So your interview isn't until 11 am… but I'm going to recommend you stay off social media and any texts/phone calls for 3-4 hours before. You see, the last thing you need heading into an interview is getting caught up in unnecessary personal drama, taking your head out of the game. Personally, I had someone in my life that was a massive trigger for me, and I swear she always knew when I had an interview or big meeting set up. Like clock work, she'd call an hour or two before. It drove me wild and I know I can't be alone.
Another thing to note, if you are taking a service like Megabus, walking, or some other form of transportation that isn't a car, I typically recommend NOT wearing your interview clothes. I recommend people show up within a half a mile of the interview 45 minutes before the meeting time and find a coffee shop to decompress at. Meditate, get in the right headspace, research the company a little more, and then when you're settled go to the bathroom and change into your interview clothes.
The other part of this is realizing that the interview *actually* starts the moment you step on the companies property. Meaning make sure you're dressed appropriately, your not on your phone, and you're not stuffing your face with food. You never know who is watching or who you may run into that could be important later on.
7. Nail the most common interview question: ‘tell me about yourself?'
This is almost always a guaranteed interview question – but one people rarely prepare for. Make sure you nail your “elevator pitch” right out of the gate. You'll start off feeling confident; and generally most interviewers know within the first few minutes if they want to hire you or not. Here's a simple little formula:
a) Start with a defining moment that piqued your interest in this type of work
b) Weave in any strengths or accolades that supported your interest in the work – painting a picture that you're innately good at it aside from being drawn to it
c) Think about the one skill your interviewer is craving for in this role, and tie it into either your strengths from above, or a testimonial you received from a past employer, colleague, coach, teacher, or friend. So for instance, instead of saying you have excellent time management skills, say you realized you were really great at time management skills when your past employer pointed it out and noted how you'd done the work of 3 employees in the given time!
d) Close with your goal and where you're at now. Example, “looking for a company that aligns with my values and has long term growth potential.”
8. Remember to interview them back!
Employment is a two way street. Just like any other relationship in your life, you both have to choose each other. Take it from someone who was fired twice in a month (read more here), wanting to work for your employer is essential! So don't forget to come prepared with your own questions for the company. Consider: How long do people typically stay in this role? Where do they typically go after it? Are their promotion opportunities? Etc.
9. Perfect your post-interview follow up
Send a digital thank-you note in 24-48 hours and make a note of something personal/unique you and the interview talked about that you really enjoyed. Personalizing this can go a long way as it shows you truly care and are detail oriented.
If they are taking some time to make the decision (more than a week), in your email note that you'll be sending a formal thank you to via snail mail. I think this adds a little extra personal touch and drive – but isn't necessary if they are making a decision within a weeks time.
One of the biggest mistakes most people make, especially after a long job search, is taking the first offer thrown out. Remember to always ask for more. This is going to set up your earning potential for years to come. If they can't do more money, see if they can do more vacation days or remote days. Since most people don't use all of their vacation days anyway, many employers are happy to give more. You aren't going to lose the job because you asked for more and it can help with resentments you may develop down the road about being undervalued.