In the last few months, I've met with hundreds of people that are unemployed, underemployed, or passively looking for new opportunities. Below are a few quotes from John Kennedy Toole's, The Confederacy of Dunces, (how not to answer interview questions) along with a few practical tips to amp up your job search.
The Confederacy of Dunces
How NOT to answer interview questions:
- Question: In your current role, what are your top 3 responsibilities?
- Ignatious J. Reilly Answer: "I dust a bit...in addition, I am at the moment writing a lengthy indictment against our century. When my brain begins to reel from my literary labors, I make an occasional cheese dip."
- Question: How would you describe your ability to stay motivated in an ever-changing environment?
- Ignatious J. Reilly Answer: "… I avoid that bleak first hour of the working day during which my still sluggish senses and body make every chore a penance. I find that in arriving later, the work which I do perform is of a much higher quality."
- Question: Are you currently interviewing with any other companies, or do you expect to receive an offer for another position prior to engaging in our process?
- Ignatious J. Reilly Answer: "Apparently I lack some particular perversion which today's employer is seeking."
- Question: You seem to have held a high number of jobs in the past few years. Is there a reason why you have moved around so much?
- Ignatious J. Reilly Answer: "Apparently I am pushing a jinx about the streets. I am certain that I can do better with some other wagon. A new cart, a new start."
- Question: If we asked your former supervisor to give us a reference, how would he describe your performance and professionalism?
- Ignatious J. Reilly Answer: "Employers sense in me a denial of their values...They fear me. I suspect that they can see that I am forced to function in a century I loathe. This was true even when I worked for the New Orleans Public Library."
CXO Tips to Amp Your Job Search
Here are a few quick ideas to help amp your job search:
"When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign: that all the dunces are in confederacy against him."
- Create a target "hit-list" of 15-20 prospective companies. This list doesn't have to be comprehensive or all-inclusive, but the creation process can help you "take dead aim" and "draw a bead" on your job search. Focus on company size, industry, vertical, and location. Use Business Chronicle lists like the "Pacesetters" or "Best Places to Work" to get ideas.
- Meet with people that can help you with "one-to-many" relationships. This could include recruiters, agency owners, salespeople, executive coaches, or anyone that is out "shaking hands and kissing babies" on a consistent basis. Provide them with a copy of your target list and ask for introductions.
- Stop wasting your time applying for jobs online. Your next job will most likely come from "who you know" versus "what you know" and it's nearly impossible to rise to the top of a huge stack of submitted resumes.
- Spruce up your resume a bit. Have someone that's fairly creative take a quick look at the document. Soften the font (I like Corbel), make it easy to read, format it properly, and keep both .pdf and .doc versions convenient if requested. Name the file properly - I would recommend "Ignatious J. Reilly Resume" or "Resume - Ignatious J. Reilly." Why? First, proper naming makes it easy for recruiters and hiring managers to save and recall your document. Second, it's to easy spot someone that's juggling multiple resumes for different types of jobs ("Ignatious Business Development - Version 2" or "Ignatious Marketing Version 3").
- Consider temporary employment or working as an independent contractor. Start your own LLC or S-Corp. Depending on your flexibility and versatility, you may succeed in a "temp to perm" position if you have the patience to see it through, and you will be earning some income in the meantime. Once you learn what the tax implications are for freelancers/business owners, you may discover that you can go this route if you find the right clients.
- Try to keep a positive outlook. Every contact you make and every interview you experience will bring you closer to hearing those magic words, "When can you start?" If Monday comes and you are still out of work, plan your job-hunting campaign for the week and remember that you may be starting a new job the following Monday.