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And they look through the job description, as long as they hit, I guess, most of those things they send off a resume and they hope to hear back. What employers actually want is not, like the perfect resume. What they want is for you is to basically solve their problems.

Raghav: Well, you have to actually be able to do it. So, I think that the essential thing comes down to, is can you actually do it or not. James: And you talk in the article about the four steps to getting the job, could you take us through what step one is and what that looks like? Raghav: Yeah. So, instead of shot-gunning your resume out to like 50, different employers hoping to get like two or three responses back, what I recommend is focusing on basically three to five jobs that are hiring right now that you are super super interested in.

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So, what I personally did, for example, when I was applying for like design gigs is I focused on a few specific companies like Quora, I focused I think on Shutter Stock, and a few other companies. Instead of shot-gunning your resume out to like a billion different people, yeah, just focusing on a few and getting that right. James: How would you recommend people begin to focus down? Is it just a question of picking companies that people want to work for?

Or particular industries? How can people take that first step to maybe narrow down to their select three to five? I guess the way that you would narrow it down is, like, the way I narrow it down is by figuring out which companies that I actually want to work for, whose products I like, whose missions I like, who I feel like I can learn a lot from. And you can kind of get an idea of how the companies like before you work there by actually talking to people who work there.

Raghav: Yeah for sure. So, step one would be to identify three different jobs that are hiring for your role. So, three different job titles, three different companies that are hiring for a marketing manager gig. And number two would be doing something like, you can either look at the specific job requirements that are on the page, or you can actually email someone who is working in the job title that you want to work for at that company, and actually ask them a specific list of questions to sort of figure out what you would be doing on that job ahead of time.

Raghav: Yeah, so the kind of, the questions that you can ask them are something like; What sort of things would I be doing on the job on if I were hired? What sort of projects are you working on, on like a day-to-day basis? What kind of challenges are you having right now? And kind of, after you talk to them, after just having like a minute conversation, that really sets you up extremely well to be able to prove that you can do the job ahead of time.

Just ask then, just kind of evaluate whether it would be a good fit for you. Come with it from that mind-set. Like, what kinds of things are they working on? What sorts of projects you would be doing if you were in their shoes? Basically just kind of getting a sense of what they are like and you evaluating them. James: And how would you recommend making that initial approach? What should of things should you be asking for? Raghav: Yeah it could be that. I think it might be a fit, but before I apply I just want to make sure it is. Do you have a few minutes to chat? I would love to ask you a few specific questions about your experience at xyz company.

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  • James: When you approach people, would you recommend going for senior people, or is it more junior people who are doing the exact job that you might be applying for? Raghav: Either one works. I find that junior people are generally more easy to get in touch with.

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    And usually they can give you the same sort of level information. The one benefit of applying, of talking to someone who is higher-up is that if you ask them for a referral several weeks later, their referral has much bigger weight because they have more expertise. So, either one works.

    James: Excellent. Step three; you talk about doing a pre-interview project per company. Could you explain to us what the pre-interview project is? It could be like a day plan, of what you would do in your first 30, 60, 90 days on that job.

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    James: Well, I love it. You know, show me what you can do opposed to telling me what you can do.

    How to Land a Job

    Raghav: Yeah, so, I used it a lot. My personal background is in both design and marketing. So actually, I did this pre-interview project where I ran a usability test. In the US world that means, like, basically testing out how random people use the Shutter Stock product, and based off of that I redesigned part of their product and I sent it in to one of the interviewers, and based off that they actually created a specific position for me within their company.

    I did the same thing for AirBnB. James: What sort of responses did you get when you sent these in? Were people wowed by them? I mean, what did some of the hiring managers say? Tell us your networking tips in the comment section below. Jobs and Careers. Personal Growth. Working Smarter.

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    Managing and Leading. Being Happy at Work. Rakshitha Arni Ravishankar ,. Use these 8 networking tips to help you land the job you want. Have questions or feedback for us? Write to us at hbrascend hbr. Learn and grow with HBR Ascend. Get greater access to our thoughtfully curated content. Rakshitha Arni Ravishankar. Continue to create a pipeline of potential options. This may seem like overkill, but it is essential to giving you an edge. Create a simple spreadsheet and keep track of what jobs you apply to, what resume you sent, who the contact is, when you applied and any other details that seem to make sense to you.

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    This way when you do get a positive response like an interview or follow up, you can track it back to what job and what you actually sent them. Then you can use that combination for the next batch of applications. A recruiter, hiring manager or business owner is going to be able to sniff out a generic cover letter immediately.

    You have only 6 seconds to connect with the person reviewing your application. The cover letter is usually the first contact point, make sure you make a good impression. Visit their website and say something that shows you know something about them. If you are applying to different types of jobs, say customer service and host at a restaurant, make sure you have at least two different versions of your resume. You want to highlight the most relevant experience and if you have an objective, make sure you tailor it to the job you are applying to.