1.) Decide what you want to do. No that is not as obvious as it seems. With the job market the way it is, some of us would be happy working at StarBucks at this time (I hear they do have a good benefits package though). Finding out where you want to work and what you want to do will do a couple of things:
- Give you a better answer to the interview question "Why do you want to work here?" other than "I really need a job."
- Empower you as a job seeker. If they (employers) can be picky, so can you.
3.) Start a blog about the job you want. Why not? A man proposed to his now wife on Slashdot and got a response in 15 minutes (granted she called him a dork but he's a dork who got the girl). Write a blog about you, your experience, why you want the job, what you learned from the previous jobs you held, show off your knowledge in the field, basically all the things you could never fit into a resume, cover letter, or a 15 minute interview. Direct your interviewer to your blog. Place a link to it in your application. If nothing else, you will stand out to the HR person as "the one with the website".
4.) Be a know it all at the interview. My Dad worked in television for 25 years. During that time he won a National Emmy Award as an Editor during the '84 Olympics in L.A (ABC Sports). How he got his start in the television industry is one of the best interview stories I've ever heard. During the interview, my Dad was asked to explain the inner workings of a sound board. My dad asked for a piece of paper and a pencil. In about 5 minutes he not only drew the sound board, but also illustrated how it connected to the rest of the television studio! He had a job that following Monday.
5.) "Volunteer" your services. I once read a computer magazine where a product reviewer almost bought a computer, not because the sales reps had sold him on it, but one of the customers did. An interview may give your potential boss an idea of who you are, but a one day demo of your skills and abilities can show what you are capable of.
6.) Mention competitors. It works for sales people all the time. Don't be arrogant about it though. Say something like "Well I was considering Acme because I know some people that work there, but to be honest, I feel that you guys have the better reputation, better benefits, and more room for career growth".
7.) Tell a joke. I am serious. I was asked if I had a sense of humor at an interview and I replied "yes". The 3 interviewers all said instantaneously "Tell us a joke". Never had I been thrown further off guard in my life.
8.) Tell a story. Even the most simple interviews start out with the question "Tell me about yourself?". Why not make your life story in a nutshell interesting. Tell a story of how you became inspired to be an accountant at an early age because of a Spiderman comic you read (of course make sure it's true, but you get the idea).
9.) Be honest. Everyone makes mistakes. Unfortunately, people allow those mistakes to keep them from getting their dream job. A non-felony criminal record or getting fired can make even the best resume's look bad. But don't leave it at that. Turn it into an inspiring story "I got arrested and those two days in jail really gave me the time I needed to reflect on my life. I realized that I needed to grow up. Even though I am not proud of the fact I was in jail, I would never have learned my lesson if I hadn't gone. Now I help others stay out of trouble to avoid going through what I went through." or "I did get fired for my attendance. At first I felt ashamed, but then I realized that I could change my ways. Since then, I've adopted the following strategies for showing up on time..." Don't give them a chance to view the negatives in your past as a problem.
10.) Look over your social media pages. Besides background checks and drug tests, employers have been checking facebook, myspace, twitter and anything else they can find with information about you. You want to make sure your social media pages give the impression of "Poster-Child" and not "Problem Child".
The important thing to remember is that you have to stand out from the other fifty people who are applying for the same job. In fact, if you are creative enough, you might even land a job at a place that wasn't originally hiring. Let your imagination run wild and happy hunting!