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5 Things That Helped Me Land My Job

2009 October 19

Sign of the TimesChanging careers can be a challenge. For me, it’s been quite a change with the biggest adjustment being the shift from thinking of technical solutions to user interface issues, to thinking of creative ways to connect with our customers. Well, that and learning about a whole new industry as well. A few people have asked me if I did anything special to help make my career change, going from a mostly technical job to a job in marketing. Not really, but I devoted a lot of time to reinventing myself. It was almost a job in itself and I learned a few key things along the way. Here are the 5 things that I believe helped me land my dream job.

Learn the necessary skills

Every job requires certain specialized skills to perform effectively. Social media demands no less and there are no easy shortcuts. Not only did I have to be technically proficient on the computer to set up all the social media platforms such as WordPress and Facebook, but I also had to learn new skills.

I started off this year with very little knowledge of video. The last video camera I owned was an old Sony 8mm back in the early 90’s and I never edited anything on a computer. So I had to learn how to shoot and edit video. I’m still learning how to do it better. And with the pace of change in social media, I’m always learning new things.

But where do you start? I think the most important skills you need to learn in this field include some very fundamental ones: writing, listening, public speaking and negotiation. Why negotiation? Because you won’t always get what you want and learning to negotiate will help you get what you need while allowing the other party to believe they’ve gotten what they wanted too.

Be nice to everyone

Making connections on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn is great, but nothing will replace a good old-fashioned handshake and personal conversation. Yet, as a borderline introvert, here was another skill I had to learn: the social part of social media. With these connections I had certain expectations of people based almost entirely on twitter conversations or emails. Don’t be too surprised or disappointed when you meet in person that they don’t live up to your expectations. That’s something I had to learn to accept and take it in stride.

My friend, Hardy Wallace, is someone who is always nice to everyone. It could be that he’s from the South, where they’ve made hospitality an art form, or maybe that’s just his personality. Whatever the reason, I admire his positive energy, and from him I’ve learned to play nice, watch my consumption of alcohol, and be a good listener. I’ve also learned to never write anything negative about an individual. Once you’ve tweeted or blogged it, something written never goes away. If you find that some people rub you the wrong way, just put on a happy face and deal with it.

Reputation management is an important part of social media and with the instantaneous nature of Twitter and Facebook, your reputation can be trashed in a matter of minutes. Be aware that when you’re out in the public, everyone around you has the means to broadcast whatever you say or do seconds after it happens.

Be confident in your abilities

I was asked in my interview if I could write in different voices and almost without hesitation, I answered, “Yes!” At the time, I wasn’t even sure exactly what this entailed, but I was confident that I could do it or learn to do it. I’m not suggesting you lie about what you can do, but if you’ve put something on your résumé, you should be ready to talk about it and have examples to support it.

Never underplay your role or make light of what you’ve done. Even if you only assisted in a project, you’ve still learned from that experience and when asked if you’ve done that before, simply say, “Yes.” Don’t explain your role unless specifically asked. Avoid using the words assisted, helped, participated, collaborated, and supported. Instead, focus on what you actually did. Instead of, “I assisted in writing scripts,” say, “I wrote scripts.”

Most all of us are new to social media, and there are very few experts in this field. However, if you’ve been doing this for a year and the person interviewing you has only been involved for 2 months, you are effectively an expert. Don’t sell yourself short.

Pay attention to details

Sometimes the difference between being considered for a job and actually getting the job may be in the details. Being detail-oriented shows that you take pride in your work and separates you from the masses or other applicants for that matter. I’m not saying that you should become OCD, but a few easy changes can really help. One of the most noticeable and easily overlooked details is spelling and grammar. It’s fine to abbreviate or shorten words when you only have 140 characters to work with, but that doesn’t excuse you from knowing the correct usage in normal writing. Personally, I can’t take people seriously if they don’t use “you’re” and “your” or “their”, “there” and “they’re” correctly. For many employers, if you don’t pay attention to something as minor as spelling or grammatical errors, they wonder what else slips by you. And if the job requires a lot of writing, well, I really don’t have to tell you how important the details can be. Whoever said, “Don’t sweat the small stuff,” has never had to find a job in such a competitive market.

Have fun (or at least look like you’re having fun)

I follow some people on Twitter whom I believe live a very morose life. No names here, but why do I follow them? To remind me what people don’t want to hear. Oh sure, every once in a while, I’ll get upset with my bank or my VoIP service and tweet about it, but if that’s all I did all day long, who would want to listen to me, much less follow me? Everyone has day-to-day problems that are mundane and equally as uninteresting as your own challenges. People are more interested in people who seem interesting…and fun. Try updating your status with statements having positive energy and showing your passion. You’ll be surprised how many people will begin to notice you.

Not all of these five things are easy to digest. In fact, a couple of them took me a long time to acheive, and I still have to work hard at it. But if you take them one at a time, it’s much easier to accomplish. And while there’s no guarantee that doing these 5 things will land you your dream job, I think you will become much more marketable in today’s tougher job market. Bon chance!

Copyright © 2009, Eric Hwang and Bricks of Wine. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Eric Hwang and Bricks of Wine with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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3 Responses leave one →
  1. Sarah permalink
    October 19, 2009

    Eric,
    These are great points especially in today’s job environment. Thanks for reminding us that attitude is everything. Also being kind to strangers is nice, but your point about being nice to those who may rub you the wrong way resonates as well. Congratulations on transitioning to a new role and growing along the way!

  2. November 4, 2009

    Hi Eric,

    This is a fantastic blog. Congratulations, and thanks for sharing your adventures! I’ll look forward to following your journey.

  3. February 2, 2010

    Eric,
    Thanks for allowing us to learn from your experience (from the 20 year HR veteran who is now enrolled in a wine program!).

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