When you’re searching for a job, your goal isn’t to find any job. Right? It’s to find your dream job. So, here’s a secret: If you want to land that ideal role, the #1 most important thing you can do is to be clear on and confident in your specific career goals.
This is counterintuitive. The old school way of thinking is to mold yourself to each opportunity you apply for. The downside to this approach, though, is that you only project a generic view of who you are. On the other hand, the clearer you are about who you are and what you’re looking for, the more likely you’ll be to find it—and be hired for it.
Here are four ways to be genuine, confident, and—best of all—attractive to your dream companies when approaching your next interview.
1. Know Your Career Vision Inside and Out
Most people can easily rattle off a target salary or title when asked about their career goals. But not as many have a concrete vision of what they want to do, or are willing to do, to reach that target. Without that vision, you can’t speak with authority on the path you’ve taken in your career thus far—and where you want it to go. Before you apply to any more jobs, figure out your career vision and commit to it.
2. Show How Your Career Vision Aligns With the Position
Next, be clear in the interview on what your vision is and how you see the open position (and the organization) fitting into that vision. Remember, though, that you want to emphasize the fit, and not just how this job will help you.
You can do this by doing your pre-interview research and learning about each company you apply to. Then, arrive armed with specific initiatives you would like to take that would help the organization (and your career!) grow.
Being able to point out opportunities that the company itself has not yet identified—but would be valuable—is a powerful way to demonstrate your confidence, fit, and ability.
3. Back Up Your Vision With Past Accomplishments
What are the projects or jobs or accomplishments that make you the most proud? If you can bring up specific examples that highlight your commitment to your vision, awesome! Bonus points if any of these examples prove you’re a leader who takes the initiative to reach your goals.
If you don’t have specific accomplishments (yet), think back to the last time you were “in the zone.” Meaning, a time you were so engaged with what you were doing that you lost track of time and felt on fire with excitement. Talk about that. Enthusiasm is contagious. If you’re excited about your career, it will be hard for the hiring manager not to be as well.
4. Know What's Not a Part of Your Career Vision
While it’s definitely disappointing to go on a promising interview, and then realize it’s not a fit, it is good to know. Desperation might get you a job, but it won’t be the right one.
However, just because a position isn’t quite right, doesn’t mean the company should be ruled out. Be honest with the hiring manager about how you’re feeling toward the position. If you share what you’re really excited about, you could open the door for different—and even better—opportunities in other parts of the company.
While taking the honest, clear, and discerning approach to interviewing can be scary, it’s one of the fastest ways to unearth the right opportunity. Trust in your career vision. The more confident you are in that, the faster the right job will come your way.