3 Smart Tips
1. Be the squeaky wheel. Many candidates over the years have demonstrated that they are uncomfortable with promoting themselves and wonder why people less qualified not only get the job they’d like but are consistently promoted. Humility will never get you on the radar in business. I’m not suggesting that you go about bragging in an obnoxious way, but don’t hesitate to take credit where credit is due. Ensure people outside of your department know what contributions you have made. My colleague, Neil Meyer, wrote the December blog on the pitfalls/opportunities of the holiday party. Take heed and use this opportunity to meet and greet. If you are interviewing for a role, ensure that you can clearly articulate what you bring to the table and what you have accomplished. Practice with friends, family and anyone who will listen so that your explanation comes out naturally. It’s a pitch, after all. Make it count.
2. Differentiate yourself. Think long and hard about what you bring to the table that other people don’t. For me, I have an Art History background but with grad school finance courses and years of experience in finance at Deloitte and Deutsche Bank, I’m a unique mix.
Then, you need to think about how this will benefit your current or future employer. Once again, using me as an example, the ability to go from an Art History degree to working in a Big 4 firm demonstrates my ability to jump into the deep end of the pool and figure out how to swim. I graduated college and within 3 months and only 4 expedited, intense graduate accounting courses under my belt, I started to audit one of Deloitte’s biggest clients in Boston. This ability to quickly adapt has served me well throughout my career and would greatly benefit a future employer.
3. Research. Know who you are speaking to and what their story is. This is probably one of the most underused tools in your tool belt. Make personal connections to people with whom you work and interviewers. Here is a fact: people like people who are like them. Everyone knows that so be the one to employ it to your advantage. You can use LinkedIn or simple conversation to determine these connections and then build upon them slowly. If you are in a job, this is critical to build momentum and if you are interviewing, it can mean the difference between hiring you or someone with a similar background who didn’t utilize the information at their fingertips.