Looking for a new job is not for the careless. The smallest job search infraction — an off-the-cuff response that is not well-received or an uncovered ghost from your professional past — can mean elimination in the pursuit of your next position. As you begin (or continue) your search, anticipate the following key issues and how you would respond to various situations.
Are you serious about a job change?
While we are all curious to see what else is out there, be careful about pursuing opportunities that are a dead end or bad fit from the start. If you would be uprooting a family for a potential job move, consult with them about this possibility before getting into the interview process. If you are happy with your current employer, forego interviews with competitors.
Indecisiveness and eleventh-hour offer rejections waste employers’ and recruiters’ time and may leave a stain on your reputation.
Salary and other details
Compensation is key of course. Inform your search consultant about all the components of your current compensation package and clearly articulate what you require in your next position. Consider salary, bonuses, vacation time, retirement planning benefits and any other factors. Discuss your needs around relocation, if that will be necessary, and be clear about how you want those expenses covered.
Even if they are not on your resume, career (or personal) blemishes will show up during a more extensive background check. Share your relevant history with your recruiter and allow her to decide how to best address these negatives with the employer.
The last thing you want is for an organization to discover a secret that you failed to disclose early in the process. Then you have two problems on your hands—the ghost from your past and your lack of honesty.
“Nice to meet you”
The interview itself, obviously, is critical. First and foremost, prepare, prepare, prepare. Do your homework before the initial handshake. Know the organization’s history and the background of your interviewer. Scour their website. Read their blogs. Follow them on Twitter and LinkedIn. Like them on Facebook. In short, go in armed with knowledge.
And follow these other interview secrets:
- Talk to your recruiter beforehand—she’ll know what to anticipate and how to plan for the interview.
- Accept feedback—be open to constructive input from your recruiter on how you can improve your presentation and responses. This advice can guide you during your current opportunity as well as interviews down the road.
- Listen—your interviewer wants to listen to what you say but also wants to see how well you listen to others. Ask questions, show interest. Remember that you have a decision to make as well—does this opportunity jibe with your personal and professional goals? Strive for a two-way dialogue.
The social you
Your hiring organization may invite you for a dinner after the formal interview. Show your host who you are outside the office, but be ever-cognizant of the fact that the interview is still underway. If the HR department or an organization host sets you up with a local realtor, understand that they may connect with the realtor after your outing to ask how you related in that environment.
A new door
Interviewing can be a tedious process, but one you should always learn from. Trust your executive recruiter to guide you through the uncertainties and to help you make the best impression upon a potential employer. Refer to the above interview secrets as well as to common sense. In time, a new door will open.
[This blog post has been updated from a previous version posted on July 10, 2012.]