Investments to make in your career

Those who are serious about finding that dream role at a dream company must put in the effort because the laws of supply-and-demand are still in effect. Chances are, you’ll have plenty of competition among highly qualified and motivated candidates as well as great opportunities (even more now that companies continue offering flexible work from home arrangements).

So if you’re truly serious about landing your dream job, you have to understand how employers have changed the way they vet candidates. And in today’s job market, positioning yourself for success means running the business of YOU.

Think like a small business

If you are a fan of the TV show, The Profit, you’ve heard host Marcus Lemonis’s 3 Ps to a successful small business: People, Process, and Product. Being a person who stands above the pack suggests not only understanding what unique value you deliver, but also your ability to work collaboratively with others on setting expectations to deliver high-quality outcomes on deadline. Similarly, small businesses must be strong in administering affairs, processes, marketing offerings and services, and delivering on promises. Maneuvering tough and unpredictable times in the present, while also strategizing for the future, is equally important.

A successful small business understands the value of consistency and the dangers of complacency. All of these apply to job seekers. You are the person; how you create value— your processes and your product—is the outcome you deliver.

Navigate the new interview process

Businesses need to hire people who have a positive impact on company culture (both virtually and in person), who can also hit the ground running. The fast-paced, just-in-time culture of modern distributed workplaces requires employees to be adaptable, take initiative, respond to requirements quickly, and do their jobs well. If you haven’t already, rework your résumé to highlight the skills that are most important for the role.

When interviewing for new roles, it’s no longer a given that they’ll take place in person. The entire interview process may be done virtually—but be prepared, just as if it was an in-person meeting, which companies are slowly readopting. This is an opportune time to show early on that you’re dependable, available, and willing to work in today’s distributed workforce.

In the case of a virtual interview, anticipate that they’ll likely look for cues to gauge your level of engagement and commitment (e.g. shifting eyes, preoccupied demeanor, typing, audible app notifications, tone of voice). Give them your undivided attention, make virtual “eye contact,” ask relevant questions, provide thoughtful feedback, and check in with the interviewer regularly.

For some, this comes naturally. For others, practice is required. If you’re the latter, conduct mock online interviews, do plenty of dry runs, and truly be open to feedback. There are plenty of YouTube videos that can provide more guidance on virtual interviewing.

Regardless of the channel, an experienced interviewer will get you to show your hand at the first interview. Show proactivity and grit from your initial contact with a prospective employer through email correspondence, extending to either virtual or in-person interviews. Show them that you have an interest in their business and have done your homework. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and make it a fluid and comfortable two-way discussion. Be clear with what you are looking for. Focus on getting clarity on the goals of their organization before you make sure they are clear about yours. Here are a few key things to remember:

  • Be prepared to champion yourself by describing scenarios in which you got your work done and were recognized for adding value
  • Understand that some companies retaining remote or hybrid work models may ask candidates to take tests to prove their ability to work and communicate effectively in a distributed organization
  • Customize your résumé to highlight key strengths, with quantifiable results, that are most important to the role you’re applying for
  • Employers want to work with people who are excited about the company, so express enthusiasm through your tone of voice, body language, and verbal feedback (especially in virtual settings)

Other important questions to anticipate:

  • Do you know how to deal with conflict, setbacks, and prioritization issues?
  • Are you able to manage these things without intervention from others?

Investing in yourself means being prepared to answer these questions, with quantifiable examples that demonstrate how you exceed in these areas.

Invest in the business of YOU

A successful career is full of tough decisions. Know what kind of culture you want to be a part of, and examine whether a prospective employer reflects those values. This is tougher than it sounds: How much will you give to get the job you want, or what opportunities will you decline because they don’t mesh with your cultural expectations?

Employment in 2022 will still be defined by the value proposition you offer and enable. Be great at running the business of YOU. Like every entrepreneur, be ready to embrace persistence, feedback, data, experiments, and pivots. Get used to rejection and ask for candid feedback on how you could improve. Be honest about what employers need and whether you can meet those expectations. And if not, find out how to acquire those skills so you’re not lacking them the next time around.

The reality of post-pandemic employment is that employees have more control and say over their career choices. It’s an employee’s market. But great companies still want great candidates and have a plethora of choices, So, are you investing enough in yourself to ensure that you’re that next great hire? Or are you still leaving things up to the “talent gods” to bless you with your dream job? That’s the job benchmark of 2022.

Chris Galy is the chief people officer at Couchbase.