Job searches are simple — go find a job. But they’re complicated in that there’s a big blob of stuff you have to do to get the job. We miss the fact that we have phases to go through and need different skills in each to succeed.
Comments on Dice show people responding to something not related at all to the phase the article is about. It is like the article is about apples and readers respond with something related to oranges. Certainly, both are fruits (job search), but what you do with them is different. So, what are the phases?
Getting the Phone Interview
This is getting a person who can start the hiring process to notice you and all the wonderful job skills you have. This means marketing yourself — through your resume, your social media connections, posting your resume in the right places (ahem, like Dice), or working with your business network. All of these are about getting someone to think you could do a particular job enough to interview for it. It is not about getting a job, but getting an interview.
The skills for this relate to marketing. Having a personal brand. Knowing what your best skills are for the work you love to do. Knowing the business results from your work. Actually producing great business results with your work. Writing a killer resume. Researching where to post your resume to best help people find you. Knowing how to work with your business network. Having the initiative to contact a hiring manager when you find out he or she has an opening that fits your experience.
The entire set of skills here are related to marketing, producing results in your current job, and building a business network — all to meet your goal of getting the phone interview.
The Phone Interview
This stage is about one thing and one thing only: demonstrating you have the job skills to do the work, so that you can move on to the next phase of your hunt.
The people doing the phone interview rarely have the necessary understanding to do the job you’re seeking. They’re often recruiters or human resource folks who understand general job skills, not whether or not a piece of code is written correctly.
That’s reality. Your need here is to communicate in a way that makes the person doing the interview understand that you have the necessary skills to produce results.
Many people want to take the deep dive and show they know their stuff. What happens, though, is they lose the interviewer because they don’t explain clearly — and simply — how well we know our job. We don’t get the check mark against the job skills on the (all-too-long) job description and we don’t move on. Then we whine about people not understanding what we do — when we didn’t explain it in a way the person could understand.
The phone interview is purely and simply about getting the face-to-face interview. Prove — and communicate — you have the job skills and you’ll position yourself to move on.
The Face-to-Face Interview
Unlike the phone interview evaluating your job skills, this is a meeting with the hiring manager and others close to her. At this point, there’s an implicit acceptance that you have the job skills to do the work. This interview is showing you’ll work through obstacles and can work with the team to produce business results. Here, your needed skill is all about conveying your work through stories of context, actions taken and results achieved.
It’s also about your ability to decide if you can work with this manager and this team. You need to decide if there’s a corporate cultural fit so that you don’t die from boredom two weeks after starting, or go crazy from a chaos culture a day after you start. In other words, this about determining if you will fit the job and the company, not about if you have the skills to do the work or to get someone to notice you.
Three Phases Each Requires a Different Focus
You need to use different skills in each phase of your job search: marketing, communicating and evaluating a fit. You also need to remember to focus on your current work and answering the needs of each search phase. If you’re in a phone interview and asked about working with the team, it’s not really a question about working with the team. It’s a question about deciding if you have the soft skills needed to work with the team. Each job search phase requires this change in focus.
Knowing what phase you are in helps you understand the questions being asked and how to focus your answers. When others don’t, you get the advantage.