Ahh, the golden goose, the ‘one day’, the… Dream Job. I think that in an honest moment, we’d all admit that we have one. I know that I do… But like most of us, you may think that dream job of yours is completely out of reach. I know that was my thought process for too long. And what’s worse – it doesn’t have to be true.
(Photo courtsey of Al Emmert)
Today I have Eliza with us to discuss the nuts and bolts of things you can do today to put you in that dream job tomorrow. Here’s a little about Eliza to get us acquainted:
Eliza used to be overweight, burned out, had a slew of health problems, no savings and in a ton of debt. Glamorous right? She has since done a 180 on her health and is now on track to retire by 45. Her goal is to share her tips on living a healthy happy life while pursuing financial freedom because she believes that you can achieve, and deserve to have both. You can get her free guide, Financial Freedom Made Easy at Wellness & Wallet.
Here are Eliza’s 8 tips on how to land the dream job!
Could you imagine actually landing that dream job you see on LinkedIn or Glassdoor? You know, the job that you don’t think you can get but would probably skyrocket your career and land you a way better paycheck?
I used to think that those jobs were just for people smarter than me, who have a more impressive resume, and just better than me overall.
I’ve changed that mindset over time because I’ve developed strategies that make me the winning underdog when I apply. I don’t want you to have the mindset that I used to have. In fact, I will show you how to land your dream job. All you need to do is make a few tweaks on your approach.
My Underdog Story
I want to share with you my story to show you that my techniques work. What I will share with you in this post will show you how to land your dream job as well. If you don’t really want to hear my story, just scroll down straight to my tips.
Accountant in a Finance World
I went to a small state school in upstate New York for Accounting. I went there because it “felt right” and was hard to get into. At the time, I didn’t really think about the fact that it wasn’t a well-known school and most people in NYC, let alone across the country hadn’t heard of it.
If I continued with a career in Accounting, I probably would have landed a solid Big Four job because the school had a pretty good network for Accounting. But, after 2 internships doing Accounting, I knew there was no way I could stay in this field and keep my sanity. Let’s just say it wasn’t the career for me. I decided that I wanted a job in Finance after college instead. So, began my story of being a perpetual underdog in my career.
My school didn’t even have Finance as a major. But after working my butt off using the techniques that I will teach you, I landed a position in a Finance rotation program at a major bank in their headquarters in Charlotte, NC.
My first position at the bank wasn’t glamorous. It was expense forecasting and analysis and it got my foot in the door. But, it was painfully boring and my goal was to work in Finance in NYC. I knew I had to land a better position if I was going to be able to compete with candidates in NYC. So, I networked and interviewed really hard to land a position on the Finance team for a foreign trading desk. Much more impressive than expense analysis… but still in Charlotte.
The Road to NYC
I asked for advice from as many people as possible on how I can impress future employers in NY. By reaching out to many people in my industry, I got in touch with a great recruiter who offered to give me advice.
Since his job is to place people in new jobs, he also shared a position with me that I thought was out of my reach in NYC. It was a role in a Fortune 100 Financial Services firm in their Corporate Treasury department doing liquidity management and stress testing. Now, remember, I was an Accounting major with 1 year’s experience forecasting expenses and about 3 months on the job for financial reporting for a trading desk working in North Carolina.
In my mind, my only relevant experience was Microsoft Office. And let me tell you, every recent college grad has “proficient in Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint, etc.” on their resume.
From Excel Nerd to Relationship Management
Well, needless to say, I landed that job and after a little over 2 years I had decided that I wanted another challenge. I felt confident in my Excel, reporting, and analysis skills from all of my jobs to that point but I knew I had other skills that were lacking. My soft skills could use some refinement and I was a total introvert so I wanted a new role that would help me improve where I was lacking.
I had my sights on the Bank Relations team.
This was the most coveted team in the Department. They worked with every major bank in the world and almost every group at the company. This team was always praised at town halls because they worked on very visible deals.
Another reason people wanted to be on the team was that they were taken out by the banks
They were taken to fancy lunches, brought to box seats at sports events, and other exclusive events. There were a lot of perks.
I had zero relationship management or sales experience. Yet, I used the same techniques I had used in the past and landed a spot on the team, without one even being open yet.
Out of State Private Equity
My final dream position happened this year (2018). After a little over 2 years on the Bank Relations team, I decided that New York City living was just too stressful for me. I needed a slower pace in life so I decided to pack my bags and head out west for Denver. No recruiter or company would talk to me while applying out of state so I took the jump out West.
I only had a month to find a new job that would provide me with a salary that wouldn’t erase the savings of the move to a lower cost city.
I networked as much as possible while working remotely for my previous employer. This led me to my latest position working for a private equity firm in a role that is part asset management, part compliance, and part investor relations.
Like all of my previous roles, I didn’t check all of the boxes for the job requirements
I was hired on potential. So how do you get hired on potential? You have to work hard and use these strategies to land your dream job:
This is the number one way to get your foot in the door anywhere. You don’t need to know someone high up at a company. I’ve had my resume submitted to hiring managers through entry-level analysts. Getting someone to hand your resume to a hiring manager versus those automated resume systems is critical.
It’s hard to cheat a system.
Even if your resume gets past the system, often it is handed to someone in HR who doesn’t know exactly what the hiring manager is looking for because they aren’t an expert in the position. They may understand some parts of your resume, but often they don’t understand the full value that you can bring.
If you are looking for another position internally, just applying to your company’s system is just as ineffective. Showing initiative by speaking to people on the team in addition to the hiring manager can really help you stand out. It shows that you are actually curious what working on and with the team will be like.
People want to work with someone that they get along with and who wants to be there. Reaching out like this shows your enthusiasm and makes you memorable. This is how I landed the Bank Relations position.
2- Finding People to Network With
To find people at a company you have a few routes. I’ve talked to people in my social network – friends, family, old coworkers I trust to ask if they can help me find people who can pass along my resume. Everyone has a social network even if they hate networking. Use your network because you never know who they know. Even if they don’t pass along your resume to a company, they may know an incredible recruiter who can do the heavy lifting of the job search for you. This is how I found the recruiter who got me to NYC.
There are also plenty of free or low-cost networking events that are in every city. Many times, I would meet company recruiters at these events or other people in my industry who knew someone who was hiring. If you absolutely hate networking (I’m an introvert so I totally get it) just remember, it’s only for a short period of time. And, a few hours of something you hate can be a trade-off for spending your days at a dream job that excites you.
If you’re looking for concrete advice on networking as an introvert, I have a whole post dedicated to it here on Wellness & Wallet.
3- A more modern way to find people to help is by reaching out via LinkedIn
Sometimes, if you apply on LinkedIn for a position, you can see who posted it. It will be a recruiter, not the hiring manager but this is still better than applying to a black abyss. When this is the case, I would either send an Inmail or a connection request explaining that I had just applied to the role, one sentence on why I would be a good fit, and that I appreciate their consideration and would love to talk further.
Usually, I would be ignored but sometimes they would respond back and it helps to differentiate yourself from another random person applying.
4- Knowing the Company
Okay, so you have your foot in the door and landed the interview. Your hard work doesn’t stop there. You need to research this company as much as possible. Know what they do, who their competitors are, everything the role might entail, and where the company is heading. An interviewer can smell a mile away someone who doesn’t know the company.
You want to show them that you love what the company does, know how it stands out from its competitors, and that you’ve read up on the latest news stories impacting the company or the industry. They want someone who will be proactive in the role and this will help your case. It’ll show them that although you may not hit all the qualifications, you are putting in the effort to learn even before you start the role.
5- Showing Interest
You’ve done all this research and are confident that you know everything there is to this company and the industry. Now you have to use this knowledge to come up with your interview questions. No matter what, you are going to have a chance to ask questions to the interviewer. Sometimes it’ll be a few questions at the end other times, other times it can be the whole interview.
Creating questions based on your in-depth research of the company and the industry shows your interest and preparation. You may not be able to spit random facts about the company to your interviewer (because that would probably be weird) but you can show your knowledge by asking smart questions. Is there a new innovation that’s happening in this industry? Ask how they are planning on using it to their advantage. Are there new regulations facing this industry? Ask about those. Be creative in how you fit your research into questions to ask your interviewer.
6- Explaining Your Worth
The final piece is all about you. Since this is a job you are underqualified for, you need to control the interview to show that you have so much more value than meets the eye.
Besides normal interview prep – practicing sample interview questions, knowing your resume completely in and out with your best accomplishments, having your elevator speech ready, etc., you’ll have to do a few more preparation steps. You’ll need to explain transferrable skills and address concerns. For more interview advice, check out this post on Wellness & Wallet
7- Transferrable Skills
Knowing your transferrable skills means that you’ll be able to show the interviewer your skillset is different but it actually applies to the role really well. They’ll see that you not only handle the role but that they would rather have a high performer like you than someone who just ticks all of their boxes. You are going to be their perfect candidate.
To effectively explain transferrable skills during the interview, print out your resume and the job spec beforehand. You are going to have to go through each bullet of the job spec and start writing down any possible experience that you have that might be a fit. Be creative.
In a recent interview (which ended up very well but I turned the opportunity down), I was asked how I would handle difficult property managers while staying professional if I were to take on this role. They were concerned that my previous relationship management experience was with more white collared bankers versus the blue collared property managers that they deal with. (This was a real estate company, again I had zero real estate background.)
So, I dug deep and got creative. I explained that I spent 5 years in retail during high school and college and was well equipped to handle difficult customers. I promise you that you can find an experience to relate to almost anything. Sometimes I even use my previous unrelated roles as proof that I can learn new roles quickly.
8- Address concerns
I always like to address any concerns during the interview process. Some people advise that you shouldn’t bring them up because it will just highlight them. I suggest that you address concerns with positive phrasing.
By getting them to bring up their concerns, you get one more final opportunity to reverse those concerns.
One of the questions I always try to get into my interviews is “I would love to know if there are any pieces of my experience that you need more clarification on or have any concerns about?” You don’t have to use this exact phrasing but the key is to not point out a specific flaw. The last thing you want to do is say, “Do you still think my lack of experience is a concern” because they might not have even thought of it as a concern until you said it. But, if they mention a reason for hesitation, you can do one final pitch to address their issue.
While these strategies haven’t landed me every position I’ve applied for, they have made sure that every position I’ve gotten was a reach job from the prior one. Once you start applying these strategies to your job search and interview process, you’ll be amazed at how effective they can be.
Have any other tips on applying for reach jobs? Comment below and let us know!
Thanks for reading!