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Opportunistic interviewing and serendipity

These are the craziest of times, especially if you are looking for a new position. Let's assume you have focused your search on certain types of jobs and types of employers. You have developed a preferred list of both. You have scanned the horizon, conducted research, compiled your questions, and engaged your network for assistance. Your resume is in order. Then job openings start to pop up through various sources---Through your web searches and through referrals. Some seem close but others are are just not a fit. You make quick decisions not to apply to those that are "beneath" you, have titles that appear to be foreign, or are in fields/industries you do not know. You have decided to be focused and only apply for positions that exactly match your search criteria. WARNING! You must resist this classic case of job search myopia. You know, when you look for a tree and miss the forest. Let's be honest, your search criteria is not set in stone. Once you create too many filters and requirements, you can easily overlook and just plain miss opportunities. Frankly, lazy people use this exact match principle, this myopia, as a way to avoid the hassle of interviewing. But in this type of market you have to get out there and actively uncover opportunities. Serendipity is a powerful force. By looking for what you want you discover new things and people discover you. I can tell you hundreds of stories when an interview for an "interesting but not what I want to do" job results in a surprising match. Or when an "overqualified" candidate interviews for one job and is referred to another opening, often not posted. And even, where employers alter the job to fit the interview candidate's unique experience and abilities. My point is: limiting your job search, limits the possibilities.

For those of you who are still not getting what I am saying. If you have a pretty good idea of what you want to do and have some preferences for employers, then the trick is getting inside the tent, the internal network of that employer. If you have the skills and impress, that carries weight in the organization. Employers want to place good people and may even refer you to opportunities outside of the firm. You want everyone you meet to say, "We have to hire this person." Bottomline: Don't dismiss opportunities to interview based upon superficial and narrow criteria. Apply more, interview more and the goal is always to get the offer!

Here are a few reasons and tips why you should interview as much as you can:

1. You need the practice. Some of you have not interviewed for awhile. Answering questions you may have asked candidates is very different. You need to refine your story and you can only do that through practice. Here's a couple of sites to help you Interview Help , 35 questions and answers

2. You refine your search. By getting out there you learn about trends, new positions, your perspective shifts and you see new paths which previously did not exist.

3. Your network gets stronger. You have engaged your network to be referred to preferred employers and to recommend you for specific positions. And you meet new people who are connected to your network.

4. Job search and interviewing is a second or full time gig. Applying for positions, engaging your network, and interviewing takes an effort that can not be intermittent or casual.

5. You are not only a buyer but a seller. Being prepared and asking great questions about the position and the employer shows your interest. You can't just be an effective responder, you need to assert yourelf too. Here is a guide to questions YOU should ask. Questions for the employer

6. Be self-reflective. Show the interviewee you know yourself--your strength and your weaknesses. What areas would present challenges AND how you would address them. Much more convincing than "I have what you need and I can do anything I put my mind to."

Here are the 5 questions I e-mail to all candidates that make the paper cut. I require a written response from VP to assistants before I interview.

*Why are you interested in this position?
*Why are you leaving or why have you left your current position?
*Why do you think you are qualified?
*How does this position fit into your longer term career plans?
*What is your minimum salary requirement?

Amazing the range of answers I get. :)

Take this approach and the job search and interviewing can be a lot more enjoyable and rewarding.

Thanks for reading. John


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