Navigating today’s tight job market is almost a job within itself. As any astute job seeker knows, searching for the ideal position requires patience, persistence and hard work; however, seasoned professionals and recent graduates alike often tend to rush into the process, failing to adequately prepare for an interview and end up disappointed and stressed.
Following these essential do’s and don’ts will bring you one step closer to tackling the market and landing a position in print.
+Reach out through networking.
Networking should become part of your career-related endeavors. When it comes to the hiring process, recruiters turn first to their own networks. You may not be searching now, but fostering valuable relationships with clients and colleagues can lead to referrals in the future. Organizations like Printing Industries of America or the National Association of PrintingLeadership can assist in developing a solid foundation from which your network can grow.
+Develop your personal brand.
Your personal brand is your reputation and the value you possess. It’s the identity you use to market yourself to companies. Google yourself, just as a recruiter might do. Do the search results represent you well? Communicating your personal brand consistently across all channels and touch points will help you set your own reputation and establish a strong presence.
+Build your experience.
Standing out as an ideal candidate takes a little more effort than just joining networking and professional organizations. Employers seek candidates who are actively involved in organizations and invest time in learning more about industry trends and opportunities.
Contributing to industry growth by mentoring and taking the initiative to finding new solutions to industry challenges will help you set yourself apart in the print industry. Learning new skills, specializing in a certain area or niche, and focusing on technology, social media, and integrated marketing campaigns—not just ink on paper—will also give you a leg up against the competition.
+Brush up your resume and social media profiles.
Keeping both your resume and social media profiles current are crucial. You don’t want to portray yourself as “stale,” but rather as an evolving entity.
Mistakes are all too common when creating a resume. List accurate, specific information in chronological order and zero in on aspects such as the client mix, sales volumes, industry awards and honors, year-over-year growth rates, skills, programs and equipment used and other areas in which you were successful. Limit it to one to two pages and allow someone to proofread it to ensure there are no grammatical errors.
+Research and practice.
There is truth to the old adage that practice makes perfect. Research the company you are interested in applying. Know the specialties of the company and the equipment it currently uses. Don’t exaggerate in the interview; instead sell yourself with your strengths and the value in which you can bring to the company.
+Bad-mouth past employers.
Bad-mouthing past employers only reflects negatively on the candidate and shows a lack of maturity and professionalism. Resist the urge to do so and focus on the positives versus the negatives. Potential employers are looking to hire someone who is an organizational fit and being spiteful will risk your chances of success.
Present the skills you have. Potential employers understand that recent graduates and entry-level candidates do not possess the same magnitude of skills that a career veteran does. However, employers do value ambition and an eagerness to learn and grow.
You know yourself and what you are capable of better than anyone else, and there is no reason to be nervous for an interview. Just remember to dress professionally and neatly and arrive 15 minutes prior to the scheduled time. Bring your resume, references and a list of questions about the direction of the company and the role for which you are interviewing.
Treat each interview as a unique, personal meeting with value, preparing for the experience in as much detail as possible. This is your chance to sell yourself to a company as though you are selling a product to a client.