No matter what stage of your career you are in, there will come a time when you are trying to get a new job. This job could be an internal promotion, an external opportunity, a project with a new client, or even your very first job. It does not matter what level of position it is. You want the job and you are qualified. So what do you do? Make them hire you.
Think about that for a moment.
What does it mean to make someone hire you?
And I do not mean by any coercive or shady means.
I mean by showing them they would be making a mistake by not hiring you. That hiring you is clearly the best option and that they would be missing a tremendous opportunity if they did not.
It is as much a mindset as it is a display of ability. Making someone hire you is not just about having the most impressive resume or well rehearsed interview answers. It’s about taking the initiative and proving yourself.
Yeah, you need the skills, (though, not all of them!), but ability is only part of the equation.
“It’s about taking the initiative and proving yourself.”
How I got my first job
I was 18 and a freshman in college. I was fortunate enough that my parents covered rent, but I needed money for other expenses.
There was a golf course nearby and they held a lot of events – things like weddings, corporate events, birthday parties, etc. – so I decided I would try to work for them.
At this point in time I had zero qualifications to work as a banquet server, but I was determined since I had heard tips from a position like this were good (they were!).
So I created a resume, cleaned up, and went to the golf course. I walked in the front door, into the office, and asked to speak to the manager about working for them.
I got the feeling that he was a little taken back by the situation. A little bit like, “What does this guy want? A job? We aren’t even hiring?”
That’s right. They weren’t even hiring.
This was the first thing he told me. But I persisted.
I said that is “OK”, but I am still interested in learning about the position. I asked if he had a few minutes to answer some questions. He did, so I started firing away.
I asked what it takes to succeed, what they look for in a candidate, what the job requirements are, what a typical day consists of, etc.
We ended up talking for about 15 minutes. That is not very long, but it was long enough to leave an impression.
First impressions matter
As I was leaving, he told me he was impressed with my initiative and that they would be hiring in a couple of months. If I was still interested then, I was to give him a call.
I did not wait those couple of months to get in touch again.
About a month later I checked in and told him that I was still interested. I noticed other employees in a certain dress and asked, if hired, if there was specific clothing I’ll need for day 1 on the job.
Before we hung up, he asked me to come in for an official interview in a couple of weeks.
A few weeks later I went in for the interview and left with the job.
During the interview, he again expressed that he was impressed with my initiative and follow up. He said that doesn’t happen often.
I was excited to hear that – it means I had done something to set myself apart from others. My experience may not have been exactly what they were looking for, but I made myself known to them.
I committed to the process: I asked questions and followed up, I demonstrated to them what I would be like in the job, and I pursued the job with confidence.
“…it means I had done something to set myself apart from others. My experience may not have been exactly what they were looking for, but I made myself known to them.”
I had locked up the job before others had a chance to get a foot in the door. I had made them hire me. By continuing to follow up and never letting them forget who I was, when it came time to make a hiring decision, they thought of me first.
Take the initiative and prove yourself
Some of you may be thinking that this was a lot of effort for a job as a banquet server. If you’re thinking that, I am willing to bet you have had a tough time landing that next job you’re after.
Harsh? Maybe. But effort is so important to your ability to succeed and achieve.
It does not matter the job – from executive to entry level – taking the initiative, demonstrating your commitment and putting in the effort is necessary to get ahead. It’s necessary in order to set yourself apart from the crowd.
By setting yourself apart, you leave a memorable impression. You leave the hiring manager or HR rep thinking and talking about you.
By going above and beyond what others are doing, you are proving yourself as an employee, a team member, and a contributor.
This go-get attitude is what allowed me to secure a job offer within the first couple months of my senior year. While others around me were scrambling for jobs, I put in the effort up front and landed one early.
It’s what allowed me to leave that company a few years later for my current job, where I received a nearly 20% increase in pay.
I have talked before about the importance of saving, but another way to improve your financial position is to increase your earning power.
Many times with a promotion or new job, you are looking to increase your wage. By doing so you create a new gap in your budget – a gap that should be saved and invested.
If you go from making $40,000 per year to $45,000, you now have an extra $5,000 a year, or $416.66 a month to work with.
That is a nice extra chunk of change each month. But it is important to prevent lifestyle inflation to the point where that raise is no longer noticeable.
My suggestion? Save all of it – increase your retirement contribution or pay off high-interest debt like credit cards.
By increasing your earning power and avoiding lifestyle inflation, you are improving your financial security and reducing your financial stress.
What’s your story?
Do you agree with this? Do you think that your skills and experience are significantly more important than effort and initiative when it comes to getting a new job? Or do you think they are both equal in the process?
This is story is based on my personal experience. I have taken the same approach into interviews where I was not offered the job, but I am not the only person with this attitude.
Whether offered the position or not, I always felt that my initiative in the process always left a good impression.
I am not saying your experience or skills do not matter. But that they are only part of what it takes to land that next big job.
I am interested in hearing your thoughts, so please leave them in the comment section!