Landing your dream job – meaning a job that is interesting and pays well – in these uncertain times may seem out of reach.
At the same time, some people easily move up their career ladder and get their dream job without a hassle. Somehow they even like the job-hunt. They tell you all the ways how they rocked the interview and won a well-paying package.
And ‘worst’ of all: These people are not even more qualified than you. They started where you did, but somehow move ever closer to their dream-job without a struggle.
In this post I want to share with you a proven plan that helped me and hundreds of my MBA students and corporate clients to land or create a rewarding job. I call it:
The Ultimate Guide To Winning The Job Hunt
Most important: It is a rather simple process that can lead to tremendous professional wins. So you can save months spent on career coaching or ‘transformation’ exercises. Instead, you can use a step-by-step process with each part building on each other for maximum impact.
How to land your dream-job: The Ultimate Guide to Winning the Job Hunt
Part 1: A winning professional profile aligned to your unique strengths
The most successful and high achieving professional are crystal clear on two things: Their 1) professional story and 2) their authentic motivators. Both guide every step of their job-search and help them massively to move to a successful and fulfilling career.
Added bonus: the Professional Story and the Motivator Style will help you answer the classic “three strengths and weakness questions” (part 4).
Your Coherent Professional Story
This is a structured story of where you came from and where you want to go. I use it with my executive MBA clients, and it always has a profound impact on their next career steps. Science proves that a professional (and life story) is so powerful, because it allows us to make sense of our past and helps us re-invent our future. As we think in stories, your professional story is also very powerful to convince others in later stages of your application. For example, it can guide your cover letter or help you in the interview when you have to summarize your background.
Your Authentic Goal Motivators
These are basic ways why we are motivated to achieve a goal and how we do that. They not only guide why we want to grow in our career but also how we achieve our goals and when we are most likely to be high performing. In the last two decades Columbia University scientist Torry Higgins showed us that knowing and using our authentic motivators not only boosts our productivity but also energizes us to achieve our goals.
A simple way to find your Motivation Style
Use the “I am/ I am not" exercise, where you simply take a piece of paper and write on the left side I am (e.g. expert) "I am not" (e.g. generalist).
Then check how you feel when working towards your goal with the below questions. Together with the Human Capital Advisory firm aqai we use these two simple methods in our workshops to quickly help executives find their unique ways to reach their important goals.
- Do you search for a job because you search excitement and want to achieve an important career goal? Or
- Because you finally want to feel calm because you know you secured a job that ensures your career?
These two exercises will give you the tools to discover your motivation style and then use it to energize your motivation for big job-hunt goals.
Part 2: The high-impact search strategy for your dream job
Especially if you are a high-achieving professional time is precious. Thus you should strategically use your job search (and invest your time) to see rapid result.
Optimize your job-search with clarity booster questions
- What type of job you want to apply to (surprisingly many applicants don’t know this and mention “something with Marketing”),
- Which market are you applying to (location, industry, prestige of the firm),
- How you track success (e.g. X applications per week with follow up calls), and finally
- Where to find an open position.
The last point can be the difference between a struggle of applying with 100s of applications and an easy and exciting smooth ride. To help you get started, I summarize the three strategies (from basic and easy to advanced and difficult):
The three most important strategies where to find your dream job
The obvious and biggest source for jobs are job platforms such as monster, trovit, linkedin, glassdoor, etc. While you will find millions of jobs on these platforms, be aware that millions of others will also use these platforms. Therefore, I recommend you also try to search for jobs on specialized platforms. Companies place a job ad on these sites as they struggle to find the right candidate. These can be platforms for college graduates, start-up and technology specialist, headhunters, and of course the company webpage (HR loves to see candidates who read their ad).
The hidden job market
Many jobs are not advertized or you are unaware of where they are posted. However, in this hidden job market the competition is far lower.
So how do you find those hidden jobs?
The simplest way is you mention to important people that you are searching for a job. Start following thought leaders on LinkedIn as they may post (share) jobs from their network. Finally, you can simply call companies and ask if they are hiring. In my Career Crash Course, I spend quite some time on this hidden job market. The trick here is to show your future manager ´how easy it will be to give you a job and that there is a low risk”.
Create your own dream job niche
The last strategy takes time but is for sure the most successful. Instead of applying to jobs, you create your winning profile and have recruiters/ managers approach you. I have seen several cases where companies only created a position for the candidate. The person thus had a guaranteed job. As this strategy is so effective in the long term, I challenge my clients to invest several months on niche building exercises. For example, they learn how to create content on LinkedIn, become a thought leader by speaking to local speaking events (Zoom workshops) and use the right way to approach headhunters.
If you are in the job-hunt right now, it will be difficult to see immediate results. However, start right now to build your professional niche as this can be the fastest way to an outstanding career later (see Part 6). Let me know in the comments how you will challenge yourself to create your job niche!
Part 3: A robust application deck to pass the hardest hurdle to land a great job
My other Blog post discusses in-depth why the application deck is so important and how you can use my free Job-hunt Checklist with 10 simple steps to boost your job-search success. Recruiters and hiring managers scan your application deck to find reasons to reject you, therefore spend considerable time to:
Build a rock-solid CV
All your achievements should be backed and quantified. Also adapt the CV to the job add.
Write a convincing Cover Letter
Use your professional story (Part 1) to draft your letter and ensure you talk about the requirements in the job ad.
Join a conversation with your company
The most successful applications are when you already started a conversation with the company. I recommend a very simple approach to my workshop attendees to involve the hiring manager.
Part 4: Winning Job Interviews tips and tricks
Master the most common interview questions
Last week a headhunter told me that the main reason why she rejects candidates is because they could not answer the basic question “what do you think we do here at xyz company”. Don’t be among them and know the basic questions:
- Tell us more about yourself?
- How did you get to where you are?
- What are your three strengths and weaknesses?
- Why do you want to work for us?
Refine your Value Why
This is one of the biggest booster for your interview success. Be very clear on Why the company should hire You. Why you are the perfect candidate. If you did Parts 1-3 then this will be easier. In essence, you will try to create a Value Proposition to the company. One simple way to do this that I teach my MBA students is to create a Storyboard for you as a candidate.
Be comfortable with the case interview study
A case study is the go-to recruiting tool used in highly competitive industries such as Strategy Consulting, Private Equity, and Executive trainee programs. It is a highly structured way to solve a complex problem which helps recruiters assess your cognitive skills. Most likely you will not apply to these job, however you can truly shine if you know the basics of how to solve a case study (remember most candidates will never do this, which can be your super-power).
Ask smart questions
The best candidates that I interviewed asked me questions that showcased their understanding of the position and industry. Hence, a winning career strategy should include the steps needed to find a powerful interview question (e.g. which press articles to read, how to read the annual report, etc.).
Part 5: A science backed toolbox to negotiate a higher salary
Know your salary expectations
For your position, industry, and location you should have a rough indication of what you can expect. Be clear about conditions, benefits and bonuses.
To find specific salary ranges, check the additional Resources at the end of my other Blog.
Create your best alternative
Be crystal clear on your boundaries and your best alternative options. This will give you confidence in the job-search and guide you “when to just walk away”.
Master the salary negotiation by knowing behavioral science
Negotiating salaries is not a random event or mysterious art. The science of human behavior and negotiation strategies can work wonders here. My system allowed me to negotiate a 20k EUR higher salary, by becoming aware of ´who speaks when´, ‘how to place your salary expectations’, ‘when to negotiate’, ‘what to do in rejections’, ‘why managers normally always can pay more’ and ‘how to use alternative benefits to get a better deal’.
Part 6: Authentic resilience to deal with set-backs & build long-term success
Congratulations. You made it.
You mastered the job-search and won an interesting position that pays well. Especially if you invested time into Part 1 (your professional story) and Part 3 (your job niche) you will likely see massive professional growth in any position or company.
However, any job search strategy should also include strategies how to deal with set-backs and how to grow your professional career on your terms. Finding a great job is the just the start. The trick will be to use your unique strengths to thrive.
These tools will be the most important if you want to achieve your goals while having a fulfilling life for many years to come.
Master the career success boosters:
Try answer these questions before you start your new position. This will ensure you use your most evolved thinking to strategically grow your career. Once you job demands take over it will be very difficult to plan how you can thrive on your terms.
I know this 6-Part Career Toolbox seems long and overwhelming...
But the beauty is that if you work through each part, you can (nearly) land any job. Each step is very simple and builds on each other. Over time, Those little wins can make a big difference and catapult you to the professional person who owns their career on their terms while living a fulfilling life.