Homework for a job search? What??
In the check out line at Trader Joe’s earlier this evening the young man ringing up my groceries told me that he had worked there since he was sixteen, but that he had interviewed earlier that day over the phone for a job utilizing his computer skills and education. He (we’ll call him TJ) mentioned that he was stumped by the questions on Flash, but felt fortunate that the interviewer was recommending him for the next interview.
Although he appreciated his job at Trader Joes – there were worse places to work- he was ready to move on. I wished him well on his upcoming interview and reminded him to do his homework. TJ looked at me, perplexed, and said, “No, I already graduated.”
All too common job seekers make the mistake of not doing their homework. This lad associated homework with his college career only. I gently reminded him that he needed to study the company he was interviewing with as well as Flash. “Flash. Right.” He was beginning to understand but I think he still did not quite understand the importance of knowing the company, the industry, the competition, the position he would be applying for.
I am sure TJ has the skills, minus the Flash maybe, based on his education to get a great job in the computer industry, but why should he be hired over someone else of equal caliber? What will it come down to?
Since he has secured the next interview, it will come down to differentiation by his display of interest in the company he is interviewing with, and what he can bring to the table to make him worth their investment of salary + benefits + training and on and on.
Hiring someone is costly and risky. There are already man hours invested in this TJ Checker in resume review and interviewing. A company will look to minimize their risk by (hopefully) selecting the best candidate for the job. TJ has to prove that he has also invested something in the company. He has to show that he cares about the work he does and where he does it. While his multi-year commitment to Trader Joes probably speaks well of him, the hiring company wants to know that his skills are transferrable to their specific industry and the even more specific needs of their company.
With the internet, it is incredibly easy to research a company. In my next post, I will discuss a few ways it can be done.
In the meantime, for all the TJ’s out there, college prepared you for life after graduation by hopefully instilling in you the love of learning and the skill of study!!
How has doing company research prepared you for an interview?