Tips for Preparing for a Job You Want

Chasing after that dream job has always been something graduates and midstream career movers have focused on. Preparing for those dreaded interviews, sending in applications for jobs, law school, or graduate study, and even researching your options in a career field can feel daunting. But finding and preparing well for the job you want is something that everyone must do—and something that everyone can do without too much stress. Here are some tips for getting that dream job—whether you want to be the best healthcare lawyer in the healthcare industry or you dream of getting that MBA and becoming a business tycoon.

Never stop reaching for your goals.

Whether you are a fresh new undergraduate planning the course ahead or a 35-year-old looking for a change of pace from your current industry, you should never stop expanding your abilities. Planning for the future requires us to always keep doors open. Enrolling in elective courses that you are interested in, searching for new opportunities that utilize your skillset, or starting an accelerated graduate business degree can really energize your search for that perfect job.

The truth is, we never stop learning, so leaning into this trait shared across all of humanity is the best way to keep your prospects and your career moving toward constant fulfillment. Many people give up on reading or educational endeavors as soon as they finish their undergraduate degree since life gets in the way and it’s so much easier to crash on the couch at the end of a long shift or have a sleepy weekend at the end of a busy week. Instead of resting on your laurels, these are the perfect times to expend some of your energy on bettering yourself. If you’ve been interested in IT products, then learning to code can be a fun and rewarding exercise in your spare time. For travel bugs, downloading one of the hundreds of language learning apps can give you a greater sense of adventure in the lead up to a big trip away, and facilitate a smoother vacation in a foreign destination.

The same goes for your career. Learning and growing as an employee requires a commitment to bettering yourself for the benefit of the team – one that you are already a member of or hope to become one day. Adding additional certificates or degrees to your repertoire or learning relevant skills is a great way to improve your overall mood and sense of fulfillment and net you a greater volume of callbacks. Planning ahead and staying on top of trends in the industry will keep you sharp and you will really shine in the interview room for that perfect job or a big promotion. Whether you want to be a healthcare lawyer that chases down medical malpractice and negligence cases, an author that pens the next great American novel or get an advanced business degree to pave your way to CEO status, starting now and cementing additional skills is essential to your journey.

One way to visualize this is as a bar graph. For those pursuing careers at prestigious law firms, for instance, you might have a high degree of knowledge in criminal statutes but lack that same depth in healthcare law. Each skill and knowledge category you possess forms a new element on the bar graph, and each advance in your mastery of the specialty increases its height on the graph. Certainly, specialists exist that work solely on a particular project and are the authority in their respective fields. However, most hires come from within the ranks of journeymen that can tackle a broad problem set and show a penchant for continual improvement across those disparate skills. These individuals make up the most interesting people and are often the most trusted employees at law firms and corporate offices all over the country doing important work in their industry.

Invest in your formal education.

Not only is it important to continue learning and testing your mind, but you also need to finish your degree, whether you’re an undergraduate student or enrolled in a master’s degree program. You can even continue your higher education once your years as an undergraduate student have finished. Formal training is a great way to quickly and definitively prove your skills across these varied categories. An MBA program is a robust addition to any degree. Alternatively, a specialized science Master’s degree that compliments, yet lands in a distinct category apart from, your undergraduate program is a great way to show your analytical prowess and commitment to constant growth. Formal education is the most easily recognizable format for personal development among hiring professionals. While you can and should continue to pursue additional streams of knowledge that make you feel good, considering graduate credits that complement the undergraduate studies that you have already completed is a great way to really stand out when seeking that new career move.

Unfortunately, most hiring utilizes algorithmic weeding out processes that preclude certain candidates from ever reaching a human reviewer. On average, an advertised job receives 118 applicants and only 20% are given an interview after the HR team combs through the culled list. While every single person has something unique and powerful to offer a dynamic office team, the sad truth is that hiring managers simply can’t spend the time that would be required to vet each of these applications personally. Standing out in the initial cut is crucial to even make it to the review process that puts your various talents and unique strengths before human eyes. The best way to do this is with an advanced degree that showcases your dedication to self-improvement and your analytical power. MBA programs, for example, require a hefty dose of research and writing, and they take up an exorbitant amount of time during a period often following twenty or more years straight spent in school. Enrollment in a graduate degree program shows recruiters that you are serious about yourself and about the work you want to do.

Dress for success.

This is an old maxim but the advice rings true through the ages. As an applicant for a new role, you must dress to impress. This means investing in yourself in more ways than one. Buying yourself a staple scarf or a suit that makes you feel like a million bucks is a surefire way to introduce a new sense of confidence that will translate into great success in the interview room.

Buying new clothing isn’t always the ticket to success, but a few key purchases to create a wardrobe of clothing that makes you feel like you are in charge of your destiny is a great way to energize your confidence levels. Business casual clothing that is stylish and comfortable is the best way to achieve this new sense of self. These are the styles you will be wearing in the office, so getting the look right before your interview will have you feeling comfortable and relaxed during the application process. This lets you focus on what’s important: showcasing yourself as the most qualified candidate for the role and the best new addition to the existing team.

Your wardrobe also says a lot about you. People often form powerful first impressions based on sight alone. We build these gut reactions to people around us in as little as seven seconds, so before you even sit down to speak your interviewer has already begun to develop a feeling about your merit as an applicant. Showing your best side is essential to getting through the door and having the opportunity to impress.

Seeking out your perfect job starts early with personal development and runs through to the interview room. Don’t forget to take the time for yourself and you will succeed.