There are countless ways to find a job but I am going to walk you step by step what I did to land 4 final round interviews and 3 job offers in 90 days. To set the scene, I will start from the beginning. At this point, I was 9 months removed from graduation living at home, in debt and struggling after a failed startup. I decided to suck it up and go look for a “real job.”
At first, the task seemed insurmountable. What will people think about the failures? I’ll look like a quitter I kept telling myself. After finally cutting my self some slack I formulated a plan.
The end goal was to have a full-time job after 90 days. Needing to be more specific for this goal I worked through the questions below.
What industry do I want to work in?
After long deliberation, I decided I wanted to work in Healthcare / IT. Why? I wanted to work in an industry that had innovative companies looking to better patient care. (I come from a family in the medical field and this made me feel like I was contributing to the world)
What type of position?
Growing up in a small town in the Midwest I wanted to be able to travel the country! I researched different positions that I might qualify for and that would lend themselves to travel. Then I found one called “Implementation Consultant” in my specified industry.
Now that I knew the industry and positions I could start tailoring my research. I started googling “implementation consultant” and “Healthcare IT. I kept a list of companies that offered this type of position. Then I researched “Top Healthcare IT Companies” and went down the list to see if they offered that position.
After the manual searches and getting a feel for what was available, I broadened my tactics. I subscribed to automated emails from job engines like Indeed, Monster, Glassdoor etc. I set specific parameters with each one to capitalize on any recently posted positions.
I signed up with different recruitment firms and connected with various independent tech recruiters on LinkedIn.
I created a few different versions of my resume and cover letter for each specific opportunity I was targeting. I used Novoresume during this process. (Note – I had tremendous success using them but every company and situation is unique)
After I had my list of companies, I ranked them and created my short list. To put me in the best position to succeed I tried to find a mutual connection through LinkedIn BEFORE I applied at that company. If I had someone was I mutual connection I would send them a message like the one below.
Sorry for the message out of the blue. I am looking at a position at [Company]. Since you are a fellow [School] Alum, I was hoping to be able to pick your brain for 5 minutes about company culture, etc? If not, all is well. Thank you and have a great day!
If they said yes then I made sure when I called them I had a list of questions I would ask a few of them were
How is the company culture?
What’s your favorite thing about working there?
What do the highest performers in this role do differently than everyone else?
If I was lucky enough to get a position like this what would a potential career path look like?
I would actively be taking notes during these discussions and if they were going well I would close the discussion by thanking them and ask “Would you be open to the idea of referring me for the position?” Most of the time they answer yes if they believed I was qualified and wouldn’t tarnish their personal brand. (Side note – Most companies offer some type of bonus if you refer a candidate that get hired. Just another incentive for them to refer you.) If they said yes usually they would have me email my resume, cover letter, and job requisition id. Once they give you the green light to apply or if they tell you it makes no difference then apply and send them a follow-up email letting them know you applied.
The First Phone Interview
Most of the time I would at least get a first round phone screen after the referral. This first round phone screen was usually just behavioral questions and easy ones like “What made you want to apply etc?” I almost always tailored my answers (if true) to incorporate information I learned from speaking with that person at the company. I would highlight those examples and say how it “gave me the insight and confidence to know that this would be a great fit if given the opportunity.”
Preparing For The Next Interview
I would write a thank you email expressing my gratitude for the opportunity to apply. If I was feeling confident about advancing to the next stage I started working on a Powerpoint explaining why I would be a perfect fit for the role. I wrote out quantified examples of how I met and exceeded their listed requirements and preferences. The intent was to help me prepare for the interview by building confidence and having this in my back pocket to present if the time called for it.
Also, I continued researching all about the company. I wanted to prepare for as many scenarios as I could to avoid being caught off guard in an upcoming interview. In addition, I would prepare a list of questions to ask in the interview.
What does the career path look like?
What is your favorite thing about working at the company?
If you could go back to when you first started your career and ask yourself one piece of advice what would that be?
For the people who were most successful in this role, what habits, traits, or characteristics set them up for success?
The Final Round Interview
If I was feeling bold at the end of the interview I would ask “How did I do?” or “Can I have the job?” the hardest part was sitting with the initial silence but when I did it was amazing to hear the responses. Then as a cherry on top, I would occasionally hand them a binder with my resume, cover, letter, Powerpoint and said it was for their viewing or anyone else involved in the decision making process who couldn’t attend today. In addition to the binder, I would send a video or hand them a USB with short video using Biteable explaining how I am the perfect candidate for the role. Lastly, I would hand or mail them handwritten thank you notes for the opportunity to apply.
A few days later I would get a call from the recruiter being offered the position. I would express sincere gratitude for the job offer. However, I would not accept it on the phone. I would say “Thank you very much for the job offer and opportunity. Could you please send the hard copy of the offer letter with all of the specified details for my review?” This gave me the opportunity to review all the of the numbers without feeling the pressure to provide an answer on the phone. I also used this time to compare the job offers I had on the table side by side.
Since this was my first “real job” post-college it was a bit more difficult to negotiate compensation. But since I had multiple job offers and the companies wanted an answer as soon as possible I was just transparent with them about the situation. I told them I had a couple job offers on the table and was reviewing everything and would let them know very soon.
Ultimately, I selected the company that offered the best opportunity for professional growth. I called the other companies and thanked them for their job offer and let them know I decided to go another direction with my career. I also wrote thank you note again because I wanted to keep the doors open down the road if we were to cross paths again.
That’s how I did it in a nutshell. It was a rather simple process but not easy. It took discipline doing the self-reflection and deep research to assure that this was the industry I saw myself in the foreseeable future. The goal was to show these companies if I was willing to do this much preparation work for an interview imagine what I would do for a large project or lucrative opportunity. This is the tool that was by my side throughout the entire process. Hopefully, you find as much value as I did with it.