Yes, I'm playing catch-up between my blog and here, since SQLBlog doesn't syndicate content automatically. This was originally posted on the Professional Development area of http://www.sqlpass.org during the summer of 2010 and then reposted on my personal blog, http://KevinEKline.com, on Nov 16, 2010.
While searching for a job, the interview is your opportunity to
showcase your talents and the strengths that you bring to an
organization. But I have a few more random thoughts about conducting
your job search that I thought were worth mentioning.
The Personal Touch
The first thought is a quick one. In our high-speed technology
driven world, a personal touch still makes a difference. So be sure to
send a thank you e-mail after concluding an interview, assuming you
liked the company and the opportunity. There was a time when a
hand-written thank you note was the appropriate response. However,
current times require us to respond a bit faster than the post can
deliver. So you’ll be much better served by writing a sincere note of
appreciation to the interviewing officer(s). Remember, interviewing for
a job is a form of competition and actions you can undertake on your
part to make yourself appear to be the more considerate and thoughtful team player also make you more memorable and desirable to potential new bosses.
References are Worth Their Weight in Gold
The second thought is a bit more involved, but it boils down to the
idea that your references are as close to your professional reputation
as a potential employer can get. Therefore, you want to build as
positive a set of referrals as you possibly can. Here are some tips -
when you begin looking for a new job, be sure to let the friends and
associates that you’ve listed them (or plan to list them) as
references. Make sure that they understand what the job is like that
you’re applying for and also make sure that they know what, out of your
manifold job qualifications, are the key ones you’d like them to mention
if they’re called on for a reference.
Also, try to select a few references from different levels of your
work experience. A candidate who has several glowing referrals from
coworkers is good, but a candidate who has glowing referrals from a boss
(even if it was from two or three jobs in the past), some coworkers,
and a subordinate or two is even better. References are seen by
potential employers as a means of understanding how you’ve worked in
with your team in the past. So the more perspectives on your work you can offer, the better.
Bad References are an Albatross Around Your Neck
Finally, when it comes to references, remember that YOU are in control. So never
provide the names of people as references for whom you don’t know what
they’ll say. Certainly, you don’t want anyone to provide scripted
answers. However, you do want to know, in general terms, that Sally
will be able to talk about how good you were at meeting deadlines and
that Nigel will be able to vouch for the excellent process you developed
to provide the company with a bulletproof disaster recovery process.
I once had a friend who we were considering hiring. I called his
first reference, who was a boss from two jobs in the past, who only said
that she remembered who he was but that she could not remember anything
else about his job performance. Two of his references would not return
my calls. And a third reference, a coworker of his, only said that he
was a competent programmer who was punctual. Does this paint a good
picture for my friend? Absolutely not. No one was willing to go on the
record that his performance was ever anything better than mediocre.
And most people, in fact, either wouldn’t respond or simply hedged. In a
situation like that, you’re been better off not providing references
than to provide references who are evasive or unwilling to impact their
own reputation by commenting on yours.
So, to conclude, try to apply a few nice, personal touches after the
interview. A quick email thanking those who interviewed you is a good
start. Also, remember the importance of your references. Try to build a
handful of strong references from several different levels of your
professional background. Choose references that will give honest and
unforced appraisals of your work while also provide good things to say
about you. Checking references is one of the last hurdles in landing a
new job, but also one of the most important. However, it’s also one
that you are most able to control.
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