If you are like me, you probably have suffered at some point from “advice overload.” Maybe you are confronted with a problem for which their appears to be no clear solution. Our first inkling is to go straight to the computer and type the question into the search bar. If you are on a job hunt, you may type something like this:
“How to get a federal job”
“How to ace the interview”
“Why am I not getting a job offer”
Sometimes I luck out and find the advice I’m looking for. Other times I find a series of conflicting advice that leaves me more confused then when I started the search. My latest GovLoop post is a good example of this. In the post I refer to an alternative view to a job search which helped me get where I am today. Since this advice worked for me and others in my network, I of course tend to think that it’s brilliant (cut me some slack, we all think our own ideas are brilliant). However, another GovLoop community member thought otherwise, stating that following my advice was a guaranteed ticket to the unemployment line.
If you are in this predicament, what are you to do? Which is the best solution? Who can you trust?
When it comes to an interview situation, the best advice I can give is that only one person’s opinion matters – the person interviewing you.
You may be thinking to yourself: “Come on dude. I’m not telepathic. How can I know exactly what the interview panel is looking for?”
You can’t. But, you can put some effort into reducing the probability that you will make the wrong guess. In essence, you can speak with a series of people that actually do hiring in the field you are looking to enter/progress in and try to figure out the trends.
The 3 Step Process to Prep for Your Next Career Move
Regardless of what your personal beliefs are, I strongly recommend that you get out and speak with people that could potentially hire you someday. If you were starting your own business, they would refer to this as “market testing.” Please remember that, if they already posted a job, it’s too late to speak with them directly. You can always speak with other managers that are either at the same department or in a similar position at another agency.
Here are the quick steps:
1. Talk to a few folks you admire and take their advice
2. Try the theory out and see if it works for you
3. Evaluate and make adjustments
It’s that simple (and also that difficult). Of course, I always take the following advice to heart: “don’t fix it if it isn’t broken.” I tried the traditional advice and it didn’t work for me. I eventually made adjustments in my approach that worked wonders for my career. Maybe the same change will work wonders for you.
Bonus Tip: Many career gurus put too much emphasis on the interview. Despite complex civil service laws, I’ve found that there is usually a clear favorite candidate (or at least top 3) going into the interview. You may or may not be that person, and sometimes it is impossible to know. There are several techniques that you can use to increase your chance of being the clear favorite going into the interview. Instead of spending your time and energy becoming the best interviewee, I would focus on career networking instead.
Is the traditional job search advice not working for you? Have you heard that you need to “get out and network” but don’t know where to start? I created a program designed to answer these questions. If you are interested, add me as a friend on GovLoop (just click the link to my name at the top of this blog post) and share your career situation/goals with me and we can talk about next steps.
Photo credit: Hubspot
That’s really good advice, Ryan, and folks who want career advancement should heed it. Also, employment experts will tell you that most jobs are NOT advertised (at least in the private sector). Thus networking also allows one to be potentially considered for a job even before it’s posted.
Thank you David. I agree that everyone that wants to advance in their career needs to be out there networking. In my opinion, the key is finding a “rhythm” that works for you. Some of my friends have the energy to hit 3 happy hours a week; however, I find that to be exhausting. I prefer to have lunch with 1 or 2 folks per week (old and new friends) since I like the 1-on-1 setting better than the big group setting.
I’m reminded of what personal finance blogger Ramit Sethi refers to as the “Craigslist effect” (you will have to google his name and the quote for the full context, it is kinda inappropriate but spot on). He talks about how you don’t have to be world class in something, you just have to be a notch above the competition. In a job search, I’ve often found social connections, and the information that your network can share with you, as the factor that gives you a leg up.