Have an interview lined up for your perfect job with your dream company? Understandably, you’re probably more than a little nervous.
Now, imagine that you’re competing against dozens of other candidates, who all think it’s their perfect job with their dream company, too—and the whole thing, from the first handshake to the final hire, is captured on national TV.
If you haven’t seen it yet, that’s the premise of MTV HIRED, a docu-series that follows recent grads as they vie for gigs with top companies like Premier Sports & Entertainment, SHEfinds.com, and Steve Madden. The candidates live through the hand-wringing application process and the fierce competition, and get the added bonus of having Mom watch as they stumble through an answer to “so, why should we hire you?”
But there is one envy-worthy perk that these job-seekers get: the guidance of Ryan Kahn, recruiter, career coach, and author of the newly-released “Hired! The Guide for the Recent Grad.” Kahn, who has interviewed thousands of millennials (including non-reality stars, too) definitely knows a thing or two about how to land your first gig—and also how to get shown the door.
Fortunately, we scored some of Kahn’s brilliant advice without having to appear in front of millions of viewers. Read on for his insider tips on getting noticed, nailing the interview, and finding your dream job.
You’ve seen hundreds of recent grads compete for their dream jobs. What’s the best way that a candidate can stand out in the huge pool of applicants?
I put it like this: network is net worth. If you have a large circle of friends that support you, there’s a good chance you have a friend or a friend of a friend that can help get your resume out of the stack and into the hands of the decision-maker. So my recommendation is to build your relationships and make use of social media.
Once your resume is in those ever-so-important hands, what’s going to make it stand out?
The real thing that will make you stand out is your work experience. Keep the resume in a simple format—filling one full and complete page. More pages doesn’t mean more experience, it just shows that you don’t know how sell yourself in a clear and concise manner.
What’s the best way to prepare for an interview? Any tips for calming your nerves?
Know yourself and know about the position you’re interviewing for. If you have a clear understanding of your accomplishments and experiences and how they fit with the profile of what they’re looking for, it’ll be no problem tackling questions like “Tell me about yourself!” or “What makes you a good fit for this position?”
“What’s your biggest weakness?” No one like this question, but employers love asking it. The best way to handle that is to be honest—but you always want to include what you’ve done to correct that weakness, too. For me, it’s taking on too many projects than I could ever accomplish in one day. So now, I use my smartphone to plan my calendar, make a list of priorities, and check off the day’s list.
What’s the biggest mistake you’ve seen a candidate make?
One that stood out to me was a very talented video game designer, who apparently hadn’t updated his MySpace account in a while. When doing a Google search for him (as any employer would), the first thing that popped up was his MySpace account which listed his occupation as “Beaver Inspector” and his hometown as “Penis.” He is so talented at video game design—I would have loved for one of his games to show up in the search instead of “Occupation: Beaver Inspector.”
What’s your take on the thank-you note debate: handwritten card or email?
Both! Prior to the interview, have a stamped, addressed blank thank you card ready and with you. This way, you can write your thank-you note right when you walk out of your interview, while everything is fresh in your mind, and drop it right in a mailbox. Once you get home, you should send the email too!
In today’s job market, not everyone is going to land their dream job. How picky should new grads be when looking for their first job?
My advice: The way to your dream career is not always a straight path. But what’s important is that you’re traveling in the right direction.
Photos courtesy of Ryan Kahn.
Adrian was The Muse’s first employee and Editor-in-Chief who built the Muse content team from the ground up. Now, she is the founder of Sweet Spot Content, which helps world-class brands and thought leaders tell their stories. She's also the author of Your Year Off, a digital guide to taking a sabbatical and traveling the world. Say hi on Twitter and Instagram.More from this Author