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Top 10 Tips for Getting Your Dream Job

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By Bill Knaus, Ed.D., author of Fearless Job Hunting

Take this 10 question true-false job search success test, figure out where you stand, and use the results to build on your strengths and to identify where you can improve. The test consists of true or false questions. Note the answer that best describes how you see yourself now.

  1. I'm mentally ready to hunt for a great job.
  2. I operate passionately with a job-search purpose.
  3. I've got an excellent handle on the best job for me.
  4. I set up a quality job-search "office" for my search.
  5. I have the tools to cut through procrastination barriers.
  6. I know how to pressure proof myself against stress.
  7. My resumes and cover letters are impactful.
  8. I take full advantage of my network contacts.
  9. I have polished my communications skills.
  10. I'm prepared to skillfully negotiate a job offer.

If you answered "false" to one or more question you've nailed down a job-search hot spot(s). If you are like most, you can profitably work on each of the above 10 critical job-search "skills," to improve, confidently move forward in your job search, and get hired in a great job.

Quick Start Tips for Fearless Job Hunters

The following quick-start tips are in the same order as the test questions. Use the information to improve your score, and to score with a great new job.

  1. Get in the right mindset. Most skip this step, but it may be the most important. Believe that you can apply your talents and learn new ways to advance on a job-search path, and you are operating with realistic optimism. That is the right mind set.

  2. Use passionate purpose methods. Do you have a passionate purpose for following through on your search? Name it. For example, are you looking for a type of work that fits with your interests, temperament, and economic goals?

  3. Size yourself for the job and the job setting. A career study boosts your knowledge of job possibilities that fit with your work abilities. What are your strongest work skills? When you put your best talents to work, you can feel work confidence and experience success. A common reason people leave their jobs is because of work setting incompatibility. Is the setting right for you? It's common to miss these two assessment steps. They are among the most important.

  4. Set up a home office for your job search. This is a place to go to work to find work. Your office can be a corner of a multi-use room, or a room you set aside for your job-search office. Here are some basic considerations: (1) have logistical support at your fingertips (phone, fax, computer, etc.); (2) make the environment business-like and pleasant; (3) control distractions and concentrate on your job to get a job.

  5. Cut procrastination out of your job-search. Many will tragically skip this step. When job-search delays lead to more delays, discouragement can follow. As an antidote, each evening define your job search goals for the following day. Then lay out how you plan to meet them. You are likely to sleep better with a plan in place. You'll gain more ground the following day by following your plan.

  6. Pressure proof yourself against mental stress. Negative stress thinking habits are like magnets that can attach to practically any part of your job search. Think about your thinking. What thoughts do you find stressful that you can invalidate? Enhance your effectiveness by adequate sleep, physical exercise, a reasonable diet, and optimistic realism. Most skip this step. It is among the most important things that you can do to sustain a job-search effort.

  7. Get you paperwork in order. Employers are primarily interested in whether you meet the educational requirements and have the experience to do the job. Most resumes are first viewed in 30 seconds. Make sure you have that critical information displayed where the screener can quickly see your qualifications. Keep cover letters pithy, friendly, and professional. For Internet submissions, use a chronological resume that describes your education and the jobs you held. Constructing these documents is normally the simplest part of the job-search process.

  8. Network, network, network. Most people get jobs through their contacts. Who do you know who may know about a job opening? Who are the people who can help you get to the decision makers? This is not a time for shyness. Ask, ask, ask!

  9. Polish your communications skills. It can be tempting to think up answers to possible interview questions and neglect communication skills. These include active listening, or taking in what the interviewer says and responding effectively. Reading the interviewer is an important part of this process.

  10. Sharpen your negotiating skills. When a job offer is made, do you have negotiating flexibility? Work out a win-win situation for both you and your future employer, and you are off to a good start in a profitable job.

Bill J. Knaus, Ed.D. is a licensed psychologist in Massachusetts and co-author of Fearless Job Hunting: Powerful Psychological Strategies for Getting the Job You Want (New Harbinger, 2010). He is also the author of The Procrastination Workbook, The Cognitive Behavioral Workbook for Anxiety, and The Cognitive Behavioral Workbook for Depression.