This professional felt like he met nothing but failure in his past job searches, but while it was a difficult experience, he learned valuable lessons that would impact his life and career. He shares his story and advice with us, as did other professionals, from a housekeeper to a night auditor.
I am an event promoter with four years experience in the industry. Though I got the opportunity to apply for my current job through networking with friends and previous employers in the industry, my career is certainly not without failures. Perhaps the most painful failure, and ultimately the most valuable, came with my very first application for event promotion.
I had been searching for a job for several months when a friend suggested I come with him to a local event he was scheduled to DJ and host. While there, I was introduced to several of the managers of the venue. We spoke for some time, and after developing some rapport I asked if they were aware of any openings in event promotion. They offered to set up a meeting with the venue owner, which I gladly accepted.
As the meeting neared, I began to second-guess myself. I was unsure of my qualifications and my ability, and I considered cancelling the meeting altogether. The day of the meeting, I was a nervous wreck. I met with the owner for about an hour, but I knew I had no shot at the job. At the end of the interview, the owner offered the advice that would profoundly change my job search, and in many ways my life. “If you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will either.”
It certainly seems trite now, the kind of advice you’d expect to see espoused by a self-help guru on television, but it was exactly what I needed to hear. I went home energized, and immediately set about working on the problem. Eventually, I arrived at several concrete issues that factored in to my lack of confidence, and they have since become a fundamental guide any time I find myself seeking a new job. If I were asked for advice in successfully applying for a job, I believe they are the most helpful points that I could share.
The first mistake I made was an utter lack of research. Although I had been determined to become an event promoter, I honestly knew very little about what the job entailed. Now I do as much research as I can before applying to a job, and it has helped immensely. If possible, I begin by talking to other people who hold similar positions. I try to get a sense for exactly what their job involves, the skills required, and how they feel about their work. I also do research on the internet, including browsing message boards and forums related to my field of interest. By researching a job before applying, I can be confident that I have the skills necessary to perform well. Having this knowledge also improves my desirability as a job candidate, as it demonstrates my willingness to put in extra effort and prepare thoroughly.
The second mistake I made in my search was failing to self-assess. Even if I had known exactly what the job required, I probably wouldn’t have known whether I was capable of doing it because I hadn’t taken the time to assess the skills I actually possessed. The key aspect of a job search is the ability to leverage your strengths and downplay your weaknesses, and in order to do that effectively you need to know what those are. If I had taken the time to assess myself before applying to be an event promoter, I would have been confident I had exactly the strengths needed to succeed, including strong interpersonal skills and a talent for organization. Of course, this process only works if you can be honest with yourself. It does no good if you convince yourself you have skills you don’t actually possess!
Finally, I simply didn’t sell myself effectively. It took a number of disappointing failures for me to realize just how important this fact is. Skills and technical proficiency are certainly important, but they’re rarely enough to secure a job. I had all the skills necessary to succeed at the jobs I applied for, but I was sending the wrong message. Rather than conveying that I was an intelligent, charismatic, well-organized person, my nervousness and lack of preparation conveyed the opposite. Many employers make a decision on applicants within the first few minutes of an interview, and often much sooner. Since this isn’t nearly long enough to communicate all of the skills and qualifications you may possess, it’s absolutely crucial to manage your appearance and first impressions.
These experiences have become invaluable lessons, and I owe all of my success to these early failures. Because I integrated all of these lessons into my job search strategy, I was able to land the position that I have now. I researched the position extensively, spoke with several people who work in similar roles, and read any information I could find online. I then assessed my own abilities, and how effectively I would be able to complete the work required. Through doing these activities I gained valuable confidence in my ability to be successful in the position.
The day of the interview, I took every step possible to project the image I sought to present. I entered the interview confidently, conscious of my body language and speech. My preparation allowed me to convey the personality needed for my position, and my employer was very impressed with my knowledge of the work. Applying the lessons I learned through past failures allowed me to excel in my interview and secure the job. Ultimately, success is never guaranteed, but preparation and confidence can ensure that you present your best possible self.
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