By Shea Ki
Employers will not spend much time with you if they sense you are not goal-oriented.
Football season is in full swing and my house is filled with the shouts, hollers, and scents of salty snacks and frothy beverages most Sunday afternoons. It got me thinking that you can learn a lot from professional athletes about how to best prepare for high pressure and intense performance situations—including the job interview!
So, ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL...and career success?
Teens and young adults spend huge amount of hours each day in practices at sports, rehearsing for music, or studying for tests. You may be realizing that there is usually little time focused on preparing for a job or internship interviews. Or perhaps you are aware that interviewing is a very competitive opportunity and that there are others who have their head in the game to win it. Either way, your approach to making a good first impression matters. These methods will help you earn a positive track record with employers.
Get On Your Game Face: Practice, Rest, Repeat
One thing I’ve noticed about professional athletes is that they come on the field looking sharp and ready to rumble. You don’t see wrinkles in their uniforms, slouched shoulders, or a defeated look in their eye.
Decide what will be your pre-game ritual for interviewing so you can start out just as charged up and ready. It should include choosing your best but also most comfortable professional attire and getting it ready the day before.
Many athletes who have challenges with anxiety use guided visualization to walk themselves through the game in their mind, paying close attention to the details of positive actions they desire to happen for a winning outcome. Give yourself ten minutes to do the same, picturing everything from that contagious smile and firm handshake to the valuable follow-up play of thank-you messages after the interview is over.
The best athletes also take very good care of themselves in between games. They know it will affect their performance if they don't get good sleep, eat nurturing meals, and take breaks between practices. Give yourself the same extra care even when things get busier with filling out job applications and preparing to be in the hot seat. Most of all, selecting the right coach to help you prepare is also going to be the ultimate game-changer to avoid common rookie mistakes.
Stay In Bounds: Find Ways To Gain Experience
Do not rely on the overused reasons for not having much experience. Yes, it can feel like a problem without a winning solution. It is a challenge to gain work history when your trading card (or skills and experience) in the world of work screams “newbie”.
But that excuse only backfires. It’s one many employers have heard before and it won’t do you any favors with making a good impression.
Although some hiring managers have empathy, many do not remember how difficult it can be to get started on a career path that is in line with your career goals. They may see your reasoning as a sign of a lack of resourcefulness or initiative which could keep you on the sidelines. Get above the competition by seeking out opportunities to job shadow and volunteering opportunities that are in line with your career goals. Although these experiences do not pay, they pay off in the near future. You will gain professional references for job applications from people who can speak to how you work and also broaden your network of professionals that can possibly refer you later to paid positions.
Don’t Pull A Tom Brady: Protect Your Reputation
You deserve to enjoy that Super Bowl moment feeling when you get your first big job or internship. How can you confirm that you are not cheating yourself from enjoying more money and opportunity down the road? Ask yourself these questions:
Nobody is perfect. Forgive yourself when you mess it up. Then get back on track. When you notice a harmful pattern beginning to develop, reach out to a trusted friend, family member, or guide. Let them know you made a mistake and need support before it deflates your professional reputation. All your hard work in preparing and practicing for the interview will be for nothing if people don’t have your back. When employers or others find out about your reputation, you want it to shine. The friends you choose and whether they are associated with positive achievements or negative things happening matters.
See The Goal Line: Know Where You Are Headed
Getting there with time to spare is essential as being late to a job interview gets an automatic yellow flag. Knowing where you are going also applies to more than finding out ahead of time what the directions are to get to the interview and how long it will take you.
Employers will not spend much time with you if they sense you are not goal-oriented about your future.You don’t need everything about your future figured out, but they want to know how working at their company aligns with your career growth.
Whether it’s the food industry, retail, a big internship on Capitol Hill or a summer job at a Fortune 500 company, a job candidate that talks clearly about their goals will score points. You want to demonstrate that you are going to be worth their time to train, pay, and be a representative of their brand. Avoid any penalties and check out My Next Move which is a free, beneficial website resource. You can use it to confirm if your current career game plan is still a winning strategy or if you need to draft a new one.
Avoid A MAJOR Fumble: Never “Wing It”
With everything so fast paced these days, the urge to just show up and “wing it” can be very tempting. Just showing up may have worked for you in the past perhaps, but you can rarely continue to rise up to a championship size paycheck without more preparation.
Companies expect that you have done your part in scouting them. You will get benched quickly from the selection process if you have not done some research on what the company is about and where they are headed. One of the best playbooks to look at when getting prepared for a job interview is the website of the place you want to work. You can often find stories of successful employees on their site, reports of the business’s performance, and often information about their mission and values. There is no foul play in using Linked In or other social media to follow places you are interested in working. This will get you more in the loop and may lead to talking with people who work at that company by requesting an informational interview.
Taking a time out to explore more about the labor market information about the field you are interested in creates more interview victories. Another free and accurate website resource for this is available at Career One Stop. You may discover from digging into how the profession will grow or not that it is not a career field that aligns with what you are looking for at all. You can then save your energy and effort for targeting a company that better fits your career game plan.
By tackling and putting into action these winning strategies, there will be less delay of game to your interview success.
Your turn- Cheers to you for moving towards your career dreams even when it can sometimes feel like you are in a muddy, messed up playing field. Fill me in on how your interviewing game is going. Be sure to leave a tip for others or a comment at the end of this post.
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Most of all, believe in you. I do.