The amount of charisma one oozes, the confidence in behavior and speech, and most importantly, the level of honesty one emanates - can either raise or lower their chances at a position more than their papers ever will.
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As I’m sure we have all experienced, looking for employment is a job itself. It can be incredibly frustrating, as different companies have different procedures for submitting applications. It can take you upwards of 30 minutes to complete just one application. Applying for jobs, as with most things in life, is a statistical game. One application might not make it. It has to be several a week, continuously, until something sticks. That was and continues to be my strategy. But what happens after you get a call-back, an interview. I have applied for so many jobs, and therefore have plenty of experience in this initial part of that process. Most of us do. The second part is a lot more niche, and this is where a lot of people stumble and fall. However, with the right tools, this can be the easiest part of your career development.
Your qualifications should be good
All other factors constant, your papers need to be good enough to get you through the door. Past that, your personality will matter a whole lot more. This is the realization I've come to regarding the job market. This is not to take away from how frustrating looking for a job is. I know it's not a pleasant experience. I've been there. However, how many times have you been in an interview, answered all the questions to the best of your ability, and still missed the position to someone seemingly less qualified than you? I'm guessing a couple of times. What made them the best choice? This is where your personality comes in.
Personality matters just as much
Employers are willing to take an average candidate with an exceptional personality over a good but bland candidate. The amount of charisma one oozes, the confidence in behavior and speech, and most importantly, the level of honesty one emanates - can either raise or lower their chances at a position more than their papers ever will. But this is on the condition that you are already in the room. If not, fix the initial step first. Make yourself more attractive on paper.
Experience has also shown that a level of detachment from an opportunity allows you as a candidate to be a lot more relaxed going into the interview. It's a balance between arrogance and confidence - the admission that you might not get the position, and that this is okay. I know that for most people, an interview, and therefore a job, offers the chance at a life-changing experience. However, thinking about this going into an interview will only serve to make you more nervous. Detachment allows you to be a lot more natural, both in behavior and speech. Your aim should be to try and make the interview as conversational as you can while remaining within the context of the situation. You can only achieve this if you are relaxed. Nervousness comes off more than we think, and it can be our enemy. Recruiters have a nose for nervousness. They will eat you alive if they sense it.
Gaps in employment
Time, and how you make use of it is also an important factor. Participate in entrepreneurship, art, activities and sports in your 'in-between jobs' periods. Employers are increasingly asking about this kind of stuff. It might seem trivial, but it matters a whole lot. Your use of free time speaks a lot about your efficiency, your work ethic, and your resourcefulness. No one wants to hire someone who's been idle for months, even years. It's not a good look. Do things you find interesting, and be willing to bring them up during interviews. It will make you a whole lot more interesting, and it has the chance of changing the interview into a conversation. This will only work in your favor.
Don’t be too rigid
Knowing the company's background is also extremely important. It allows you to gear whatever answers you give towards the company's motives. Instead of cramming specific answers to interview questions, see how you can link them to the company. A company executive wants to see how much of a fit you'll be to the company and its objectives, and anything that hints at this is going to help a lot. Understand the company's values, culture, the environment of operation, goals and issues. Read about the company from its website and its appearances elsewhere. Always try to gear your answers towards these aspects. It will show you understand the company, and we all crave understanding, don't we?