Step 1 – Hone your craft.
You don’t have to be the best at it, you just have to hone it, to know that you can do it with a relative degree of certainty. You’re certainly going to be able to improve at it over time, you just don’t want to break down with pressure on the day. Try to learn something unique or do something using a method no one else does or is hard to do.
Remember that the harder something is to do, the less people have done it also, and so it puts you in greater standing.
Step 2 – “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”
You’ve heard this used in derision, maybe the last time a job interview didn’t go so well. You heard some other candidate got the job, they were friends with interviewers late cousins friend. You come home to let people know of your disappointing day, and someone will definitely say it.
It’s not that you think you’re magnanimous, but you’re better than that guy, right? You’ll tell yourself you were way more suited for the job – but of course you weren’t.
For a long time, I thought the phrase was only to be used for consolation, but it isn’t true. It’s to be used in celebration.
What this phrase actually means, is stand out. Do something that gets you noticed. If you’re not passionate about something, you shouldn’t be doing it as your career. And so many people aren’t passionate about it so they go in blind and to a degree stand no better than mere chance at succeeding in the interview.
However, let’s say you’re passionate about cars (of which I know virtually nothing about, so great choice of example) and you want to land a job where you work with or on cars all day. Well you find there’s an opening at a car dealership, or a mechanics, and you go for the interview, it doesn’t go well for you so you sulk home and the same phrase you’ve heard a million times is uttered once more. You’ll continue with unemployment or that menial job you hate for now. NO!
If you’re passionate about cars, it’s really what you want to do? Go to a convention. A meet-up. Anything. Find out where other people are meeting with the same passions as you! How could this go wrong in any way? Take a convention for example, it would have the biggest names in cars – and sure you can try your luck there if you’re bold or have the experience – but importantly the small guys will be there. The guys who’ve paid x amount for a booth and they only return they’re looking for is interaction. Interaction with you! To know they’re time and money isn’t being wasted.
Go up and talk to someone, anyone! Rather than awkwardly making accidental eye contact and then shying away, just look right at them, nod and go forward. They’re looking for someone to talk to, and you’re someone.
Be honest. Tell them what you want, why you’re there. Most folk with the saavy to have a business or a booth somewhere can smell bull s#%t sales patter, so come at them as a human instead. The way I see it, the interaction can only go one of so many ways:
1 – They tell you that they like you, have a job opening, and offer you an interview right on the spot! (But it isn’t a regular interview, because they already know they like you)
2 – They seem interested, and give you a business card or you give them one.
(Don’t lock it away in the drawer, show you actually bothered to remember them, email them once you’re home to thank them for their time, then contact them again when you’re going in for the kill. Or they might contact you!)
3 – They say they aren’t looking for anyone right now, but they know a friend!
(Now you’re that guy who knows a who, rather than what a what!)
4 – They say they aren’t looking for anyone, they’re new to this and don’t know anyone.
(Quite unlikely at a convention, but either way, you know them now. They’re looking to improve the same way that you are, they’ll throw help your way and you’ll reciprocate! People remember gestures like that, so if they do come into a position that’s valuable to you, they’ll come to you as one of the firsts)
Not a single one of these scenarios are hurting your chances!
And you’ll feel less alone. It’s scary to know you know how to do something and want to do it, but you’re on the outer circle. People doing a worse job are getting the position first. So embrace it, be the guy someone knows.
Because the fact of the matter is, if they knew the person at the interview, a bond goes a longer way than you think, so that other person was right for the job at the time, just as you are right for it now.
And when you finally make it to the top. Return the favour. Don’t think you’ll be the person who goes for the what’s of the world, scouring the globe for unseen talent, return the favour and be kind to the ambitious, they’re the ones who want to go far, and they’ll return the faith you put into them. Loyalty goes a long way in a career.
Step 3 – Volunteer. It’s like conventions times a million.