With job offer in hand and a new adventure on the horizon, cautions need to be taken to ensure your first week on the job (typically the most important) portrays not only that you are the right candidate but also that the hiring manager does not second guess his or her selection.
To better prepare your initial week on the job, let’s examine a few pointers from an employer’s point of view:
Timely: No doubt you made it to the interview on time, now’s the time to make sure the good habit continues. During the first week you will be looked at closely, including when your work duties begin (notice I did not say when you walked through the front door). It is recommended you arrive to the office 10 minutes early, allowing you plenty of time to grab a cup of coffee, get your good morning howdy’s out of the way, and warm up your seat. In other words, don’t walk through the front door at the exact scheduled time only to take care of morning rituals prohibiting you from being productive in a timely manner. Know your supervisor notices when coffee pouring and real work begins.
Attitude: Are you the same positive, team-playing, and confident person displayed during the interview or did you suddenly turn Jekyll? Recognizing people put their best face forward during interviews, companies are often displeasingly surprised at the stranger walking through the door… yeah, the new not-so improved you. One way to make a quick departure from your new position is to not be the person so eagerly anticipated by fellow co-workers. Advice: don’t fake who you are during the interview process as the “real” you will always surface, oftentimes with unwanted consequence.
Appearance: While running a former organization, I hired a receptionist to handle front-end clients, answer the phone, and be the front face. During the interview process (two formal interviews), the individual’s appearance was business casual and her professional appearance impressed all decision makers. Unfortunately on day two of her first week, she shed any semblance of what we had come to expect. Though individuality is encouraged, recognize there are lines in the sand… the first week is not the time to test the line… the first week is the time to become fully aware of cultural expectations and what is considered appropriate. The receptionist originally hired decided her true identity needed to be expressed… raw and unadulterated Gothic… being a conservative company dealing with conservative clientele, the line was crossed and she did not make it beyond a month.
Fair or not, the reality and consciousness of the company culture must be appreciated. Violating any of the above three bullets most likely will not work in your favor. No matter the position, try to place yourself in your employer’s shoes and then ask yourself: “would I want my new hire to…” Be honest with yourself as you evaluate actions, attitude, and appearance.
It’s easy to fool yourself into believing anything you want… it’s not so easy fooling your employer.
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Our last discussion concluded with: “The cover letter hooks the reader by giving him/her a reason to continue and consider you as a potential candidate;” now it’s time to delve into cover letter construction and considerations for those interested in treading external grounds.
Hiring Manager Hesitation: I need help immediately, not four weeks from now.
How does one counter hiring manager hesitation?
Recognize companies typically need help now, not next month is the first step. Your job in the cover letter (and subsequent interviews), reinforce why you are worth the added few weeks.
What makes you worth the wait and temporary inconvenience? If your cover letter does not address the concern, you will (most likely) not earn an interview. Perhaps you are exceptionally adept or offer unique knowledge, skills, and/or abilities. If you do, your cover letter is the place to impress.
Recognize there is risk involved, for both parties.
Hiring and training new employees is an expensive endeavor. Though there always will be risk with any new hire, out of town applicants are at an added disadvantage. What makes you a solid hire not only resides in what you offer, but for how long. For out of town folks with limited work experience or a weak track record, supporting an ability to stay in place (and with one company) is paramount.
Hiring managers intuitively question motives. If you are seeking to relocate, motives will be questioned… if there’s a problem, get over it.
For the recent graduate, the potential disadvantage can be reversed to become your advantage by highlighting how the new city fits perfectly for your new career and life-long journey. Now would be an ideal time to reflect on what it is about the region that makes the area so attractive… perhaps the mountains, culture, way of life, family, etc.
Your cover letter should be no longer than one page, the accepted average length is 3/4ths of a page. Consider taking a four paragraph approach:
First paragraph: Introduce yourself on a professional level. Briefly highlight the purpose of the letter (refer to job posting) and a primary reason why you are the right candidate. It is fine to mention a solid reason why the new city is of vast interest. Do not exceed four sentences for this or any other paragraphs.
Second paragraph: Make a direct connection between your background (experience and/or education) to the position. This is the perfect time for you to introduce your brand or unique value (something most other applicants are unable to offer).
Third paragraph: Highlight the company and city, drawing on how the combination is what interests your LONG-TERM goals. This part is critical as the purpose is to get the hiring manager to think: “hey, this applicant is not just looking for a job or a way out of a bad situation, he/she is sincere for the long haul—I gotta give him/her a call.”
Final paragraph: Don’t waste your final opportunity to hook the reader. Remind the hiring manager of a primary reason why consideration should be given. Warning: don’t repeat what was written previously. At the conclusion, establish a call to action and ALWAYS thank the individual when applicable.
Relocating is more common than in any other time in our history. By taking the necessary steps to recognize a few hesitations (and desensitizing them), you will increase the chances for a call back.
Even for those not considering relocation, the above bullet points and insight should be incorporated in your cover letter (and resume).
Hoping your career journey is an exciting and rewarding one, I am always here to help in the process.
For those interested in developing proven career success techniques or securing cutting-edge career focused material, including interview best practice techniques or how to write effective resume/cover letters? For those at a career disadvantage, take control by taking advantage of one of our most popular guides and learn ways to overcome barriers to employment (arrests and/or convictions). Visit www.edu-cs.com for a complete listing of available support or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
Education Career Services: www.edu-cs.com
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