Say hello to the ultimate job seeker advocate, Amie Thompson. She understands that the job search process can be overwhelming, so her goal is to alleviate some of that stress. In this feature Amie gives her top tips for networking, tells you how to tailor your resume to suit the role and offers some essential advice for acing the interview!
Please could you give our readers a quick recap of how you came to be a career coach?
Prior to becoming a coach, I spent my career working in corporate HR. Initially, I wanted to get into HR because I wanted to help people, and with a business degree it seemed like the best fit. As my career progressed, I found that I was spending a lot of time involved with things that didn’t directly touch the employees. So I left my corporate job to start my own coaching business – Sound Interview Professionals – which allows me to directly help people get jobs.
Please could you tell us more about your coaching business…
We aren’t traditional career coaches or resume writers. There are lots of people who provide these services. Instead, we focus on teaching our clients exactly how to update their resumes. In this job market, resumes need to be customised for each position. Our clients take a bigger share of ownership in making the updates, while partnering with their coaches. Our resume clients gain confidence and the ability to have a polished, professional resume on their own timeline. We also help prepare clients for job interviews and focus on a blend of traditional and behavioural interview questions.
What are the most important factors to consider when searching for a job?
People seem to underestimate the power of networking. When working with clients, my advice is that only 20% of their job search should be searching and applying for positions on the internet. The other 80% of the time is better spent finding connections, and talking to people, ideally face-to-face. I encourage clients to set up informational interviews, find volunteer opportunities and reach out to their personal network for help.
I’d also recommend creating a list of your top 10 companies you’d like your next role to be at. Then, each week take steps to engage with two or three of them somehow. It could be as simple as setting up job search notifications on their site, meeting a recruiter, or engaging with the content they post on social media. This helps you feel more connected to the company.
Finally, apply for stretch roles. A lot of my clients worry that if they don’t meet the requirements on the job posting, they shouldn’t apply. Those requirements are more along the lines of a ‘wish list’, so as long as you believe you can perform the tasks the position is looking for, and it’s not a mid-senior career type of job, go for it! Don’t take yourself out of the running for the position, let the company make that decision. Oh, and always negotiate your initial offer!
Any tips for a successful interview?
Prepare 10-15 stories that you can tell in an interview. Know those stories. Have them on a sheet of paper in your binder. If you are absolutely stuck, grab your notes. You probably won’t need them, but it’s a safety net. Also, try to build a rapport with the hiring manager. The better a rapport you build in an interview, the better they’ll be able to see you in the job.
Do you have any successful case studies that you’d like to share?
Just recently I had a client come to me looking to make a career pivot from the academic space into a highly competitive electrical apprenticeship. The opportunity was only open once a year, and people he knew had been attempting to get in repeatedly without success. Each year there were upwards of a thousand applicants who started the process, and there were only 15 spots. He had made it to the final panel interview when he contacted me for coaching. We met for two sessions to help him prepare for the interview. He put a LOT of work into getting ready and ultimately was able to get the apprenticeship on his first try. Over the past two years, I’ve worked with so many wonderful people, and there’s nothing that makes me happier than hearing they were able to get the job they worked so hard to prepare for.
You’re a keen blogger – what recruiting topics do you enjoy writing about the most?
That’s hard to say. Lately, the blogs posts I’ve been writing have come from questions that clients are asking, or topics I’m covering frequently in sessions. I enjoy writing content that I truly believe will help people in their job search; be it new tips and tricks with various technologies, or strategies for the entire hiring process.
What’s your essential advice to candidates?
Make sure you’re customising your resume for each position you are applying for and always reflect the language in the job description. Oh, and remember to write that all-important thank you note if you get to the interview stage!
Speaking of advice… what’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Be yourself. Not everyone is going to like you, and that’s fine. I think it’s really applicable in the hiring process too. So many people try to fit within what exactly a company wants, but there are so many people unhappy with their job. Find somewhere you don’t need to change who you are to be happy. Interviews are a two-way street, and people tend to forget that. Candidate experience is important, and if you don’t feel like you connect in the interview, it’s okay to pass on the opportunity.
Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
If you’re ever in the market for an interview or resume coach, I’d love to talk with you! Thanks to technology, we conduct sessions with clients all over via video conferencing.
To get in touch with Amie, email firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her on Twitter, or connect via LinkedIn. Also, be sure to check out Amie’s blog for tips on resumes, interviews, salary negotiations, legal updates and strategies for the workplace!