If you're anything like me, you've been here. Spending a Saturday night, scrolling through jobs sites, searching "engineering internships Sydney" and going through Facebook jobs groups. Perhaps not engineering but you see my point. This was me a few years ago but after getting into entrepreneurship and creating this venture there are a lot of parallels and lessons that can be imparted on to job applications too. This is for everyone regardless of whether you are in university, graduated or been working for many years. This article will explain a new way to look at the job hunting and application process (granted this probably isn't a new concept but this is my personal take on it).
The Traditional Job Hunt
First of all, lets look at how we currently apply for jobs. Backtrack a few years and I would have been doing it this. Generally, you have a field in mind because you are either studying it or aspiring to be in that position so you search for job titles with that desired field.
For example, when I was going for mechanical engineering internships that's exactly what I searched. Eventually, when I exhausted all those options, I looked through any engineering internships that might be somewhat related to me and that I felt like I had the skill to do such as mechatronics, electrical, manufacturing etc.
Now for the actual application I had a standard resume and I used it over and over again with the slight modifications to fit the job. The cover letter was similar, like my HSC English essay I changed the introduction and conclusion keeping the body the same.
(Anyone just get a wave of HSC memories hit them?) Then you tried to show that you belonged ( I'm sorry I couldn't resist, for context, this was the topic for HSC English Area of Study) to the company using keywords from the job description.
Usually big companies will have a Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) which will scan through the bulk of resumes to check for keywords and spelling errors. Next you go into the interview or assessment centre phase which could be repeated a few times and the final selection is made.
WHY THIS IS THE WRONG WAY
During this whole process you are attempting to convince the hiring manager and convince them that you have the skills, attitude and competence. You are already coming from an angle where you are asking for something: you want the job, you think you'll make a good fit, you can thrive and do well. You, you, YOU.
I may be slightly exaggerating but think about your last interview, how much did you talk about yourself? Sure they are asking you to talk about yourself because they want to get to know you but there are opportunities to turn this around.
This is what Is what I'm trying to get at. When you apply for a job, it's not about YOU getting a job. It's about the company finding the right person to help them meet their goal. What does the company or hiring manager care about, how can you help them?
There is nothing but one lesson in this article and that is that you should be constantly asking yourself: "How can I help the other person?" and when you work it out, do it.
It's really easy too. All you have to do is forget what you want and focus on the other person. Have a pure focus in your listening and see what you can do to help them and be genuinely interested in doing so.
Don't believe me? I'm going to share two stories which will convey different methods and their results.
The first one is a job application I did for an organisation which we shall call X for privacy purposes. I applied for X using the usual channels, I tried to make myself look very impressive on my resume and it worked well I was called in for an interview.
Now, when HR managers read through the resumes that come through ATS, they are considering is "how can this person help us, what could they be doing". It happens all the time, in some interviews for smaller companies you might hear asides to each other like "oh, Kelly knows how to use CAD that could be useful for the platypus (random name) project we have coming up".
That is the mindset they have and by chance I had a lot of things in my resume that had those moments. When we got into the interview, all I did was talk about myself. I did not mention the company once and did not ask questions afterwards. The issue is that, whilst you may be great and all, you haven't really shown that you can help this specific company. You aren't solving their problems and you aren't making it about them.
The result? I never heard back from them and they hired someone else!
Let's consider the second scenario where I had applied this method of helping and considering what the company or person wants.
For this particular job application, I customised my resume to highlight the experience that suited the job much like anyone else would for an application but the cover letter is where the difference lies. Rather than writing about myself, I wrote purely about the company.
I looked at their history, their current strategy, analysed their website and produced a cover letter than gave them information and analysis that they had not considered. I gave them a few designs, a strategy and more within this document and I said It was free of charge from me. I saw something I could do that would help them out with no real intent ask from my end.
The result? I was hired within a week.
You are basically an asset that they are purchasing for an annual subscription fee. Why would they buy a 20 tool Swiss army knife if they can't work out how they can use the tools? When it consider it this way, the error becomes a lot more apparent. People care more and are more interested when the topic is about them so why not purposefully shift the focus.
Can you see the profound impact that simply switching your mindset to only considering how you can help the other person can have?
Let me give you an example of this in a networking scenario, however I'm going to call this person Bob for privacy reasons again. I really wanted to form a relationship and get help from Bob but this was the first time meeting them and I severely doubted I would get a helping hand right off the bat. All I did for the first few months of our professional relationship was help them and continuously come up with ways that I could be of service. "Hey I know someone in that area" or "I'd be happy to look over it for you". Small gestures go a long way and eventually sometimes you don't even have to ask. They might even feel obligated enough to help you out. Which is what happened in my case.
I am first and foremost a man of physics so I shall explain the physics version of this notion. The positive charge will represent the giver and a person who is helping others. The negative charge represents someone who is considering how they will benefit and taking. A flux line will represent the connection and rapport built between them.
To finish off
A common issue and question I get with this is: What if I have nothing to offer or no way to help? It's a fair question and it might sound odd but I have a few different answers. Firstly, I'm sure there's something you can offer, perhaps an introduction, a piece of information or an article you found that could help out. It's really not that hard to recall things, do a little research or just simply invest time. Secondly, maybe you need to up-skill and read more.
Experience is not the only way to gain knowledge, start reading and start to up-skill. You'll see a profound increase in how you can help people. This is actually an amazing motivation to learn as you are learning more to be able to help others.
I apologise if you were looking for a step by step or a definitive guide on how to do this but there simply isn't. You could try the method I used but there are so many ways to put this lesson to use. I'll leave you with this; show a genuine and deep yearning to help others and people will naturally flock towards you. Opportunities are tied to people, the more people around you the opportunities that will come your way. *strokes beard* (I'm sorry last bad joke!)
Alright, so this is just for those who are interested/physics inclined.
The physics of being a giver (Kind of :P)
I am first and foremost a man of physics so I shall explain the physics version of this notion. The positive charge will represent the giver and a person who is helping others. The negative charge represents someone who is considering how they will benefit i.e a taker. A flux line will represent the connection and rapport built between them.
So lesson 1: be a positive charge!
Alright, I hear you! "But Ajay won't two positive charges (givers) repel so that means two people can't be givers!"
Well, if we consider particle physics what we are looking at here is a electrostatic force. However there exists a stronger force and it's literally called the strong force.
At around 1.7 femtometres (x10^-15 metres), the strong nuclear force that exists between nucleons becomes stronger than the Coulomb force that repels them. So two givers actually just get so close that there is an extremely strong bond between them. Lesson 2: If everyone gives we'll form amazingly strong bonds with each other!
Managed to sneak in some physics into our job application blogpost. STEM and Real Skills are the two iron pillars of our company and if you want to read more articles like this, subscribe below.