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With increasing competition for entry-level jobs, the pressure of student loans, and the excitement of getting your first job, it can be tempting to fire a shotgun blast of resumes out into the world, and accept the first offer that comes your way. Related: 10 Rules For Starting Your New Job On The Right Foot But wouldn't it suck if after all that effort you wound up getting a job you despised within a month of being there? Then you're back to square 1, or worse yet… you decide to stick it out for a while, and wind up having a stress-induced quarter-life crisis to rival the Justin Biebers of the world… What if you put down the shotgun, and instead grabbed a sniper rifle? You load it up, survey the scene carefully and intentionally, and wisely choose the best target available… firing only once, and making a perfect shot. Most likely, everyone you know is relying on the shotgun approach… but you can be a sniper, and snag your dream job with an awesome company. Here's how…

Step 1: Determine the problem that drives you NUTS.

Answering this question is the key to finding out where you belong. Yes, you've got your education, which has groomed you to develop a skill to use in exchange for money… but where should you apply that skill in order to maximize your happiness and income, and make an impact on the world? For instance, I hate the idea of seeing my friends invest four years of their life and thousands of dollars into their education... only to wind up in a tiny cubicle they can't stand, wishing they were back in school. Hence this article. So, what makes you want to pull your hair out?

Step 2: Find the company that's doing the best job of solving that problem.

Get your Google on! Find a few possible targets, and then use the infographic below to narrow it down and determine the best. The company meeting the highest number of these badges will be the one you want to apply for. But before you do… because you're using a radically different approach to find this company, you'll need an equally radical approach to get their attention and the job. That's why there's Step 3 (below the infographic)... (infographic from: http://gamechangers500.com)

Step 3: Use a radically different approach to create an irresistible offer.

I have some good news and some bad news for you… The bad news is that employers have all seen the same, boring resumes and cover letters for years, and only 1% of resumes submitted lead to a job offer. The good news is that the other 99% are using the shotgun method. But you're a sniper… And now that you've zeroed in your target, you'll know exactly what to do. You know what they stand for and what drives them nuts, because it drives you nuts, too. So, share that with them in a unique way, beyond the cover letter and resume. Because I've got a secret for you… Great companies, like the ones who have more than a few of the badges in the infographic above, don't care about your GPA as much as you think they do. They want people who are fiercely passionate about solving the same problem as them, who are willing to learn, have some skills, and are going to be a great cultural fit. See, when you're applying for an entry-level job, your greatest asset is your potential. And that's revealed through your character. So, figure out what drives you crazy, find someone who's making it better, and get their attention in a unique and creative way. And if you need a little help, here's more free info on how to get inside access to some of the coolest companies in the world. This post was originally published at an earlier date.

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About the author

Ryan Niessen is a keynote speaker and co-creator of The Gateway Method: a simple, proven way to gain inside access to the world's best employers and get your dream job. Connect with him on LinkedIn or Facebook. Disclosure: This post is sponsored by a CAREEREALISM-approved expert.
Learn how to land a career you love

Everyone needs to feel their voice is heard and their contributions are important. Something as simple as sharing a drink the last hour of the day on a Friday with the team to recap wins and give praise can build camaraderie within the team.

All of the above are fairly simple to implement but can make a huge difference in morale and motivation. Have any of these tips worked well for young the past? Do you have other tips to motivate your creative team? If so, please share them with me!

Encourage curiosity. Spark debate. Stimulate creativity and your team will be better at handling challenges with flexibility and resourcefulness. Create a safe space for ideas, all ideas, to be heard. In ideation, we need the weird and off-the-wall ideas to spur us on to push through to the great ideas.

Sure, there are a ton of studies done on this, but here is my very unscientific personal take. When team members can make decisions about how they work on projects, they are more engaged and connected to the project outcome. When they see how potentially dropping the ball would affect the entire team, they step up. When they feel like what they are doing is impactful and valued, they are naturally motivated to learn more, and be even better team members.

Rarely does a one-size-fits-all style work when it comes to team motivation. I have found that aligning employee goals with organization goals works well. Taking time to get to know everyone on your team is invaluable. What parts of their job do they love? What do they not enjoy? What skills do they want to learn? Even going so far as to where they see themselves in five years career-wise. These questions help you right-fit projects, and help your team see you are committed to creating a career path for them within the company.

Most designers I know love a good challenge. We are problem solvers by nature. Consistently give yourself and your team small challenges, both design-related and not. It will promote openness within the team to collaborate, and it will help generate ideas faster in the long run. Whether the challenge is to find a more exciting way to present an idea to stakeholders or fitting a new tool into the budget, make it a challenge just to shake things up.