Philip Guo (Phil Guo, Philip J. Guo, Philip Jia Guo, pgbovine)

How to Get Hired

How can you get hired for a job that you want?

This is one of the most important questions in life. Why? Because most of us need to work for a living and, if given the choice, want the best job that we can get. I've been thinking a lot about this question lately since I've been both trying to hire people (e.g., research students for my lab, new faculty for my department) and trying to get myself hired.

So how can you get hired? You need to show that you have three important qualities:

  1. Can you get stuff done? This is the most basic requirement, but it's astounding how many people can't get stuff done well, reliably, and on time. Can you do what the job requires day-to-day? Can you learn rapidly on the job and adapt as needs change? Can you get yourself unstuck and ask for help from the right people? Can you really deliver when it counts most? And can you keep getting stuff done even in the face of inevitable setbacks and failures?

  2. Can you make whoever hired you look good? Everybody wants to feel good about who they hired. Nobody wants to be responsible for a dud hire who makes their group, division, or department look bad to their peers. Can you be someone whom your boss and senior colleagues are proud to show off? This doesn't mean you should be a brown-noser or sycophant; often the best way to make people around you look good is to be great at your own work.

  3. Can you bring out the best in those around you? Can your presence bring out the best qualities in your peers? Can you inspire them with your positive energy, or will you drag them down with your grouchiness? Are you someone whom your colleagues look forward to seeing every day at work? Do you help make them better and happier at their jobs? Are you a positive multiplier for your coworkers?

That all sounds fine in theory, but how can you even get a chance to demonstrate that you have these qualities? How can you get considered for the job in the first place? Here are some ways:

  1. Be credentialed: As much as some grouchy people hate to admit it, credentials do matter. Whether it's a degree from a top university or a certification for your trade, a meaningful credential is more than just a piece of paper; it represents some baseline level of “Can you get stuff done?

  2. Be credible: Have you done something noteworthy to give you external credibility in your line of work? Do the best people in your profession respect and value what you do? Even if you don't have the proper credentials, you can still get good jobs if your work is outstanding enough to attract the interest of well-respected senior colleagues in your field. They can give you personal referrals to prime opportunities.

  3. Be charismatic: Charisma isn't a requirement for most jobs, but it will make it much easier to convince people to hire you. You'll also be a more valued employee since you'll be able to more easily make whoever hired you look good and bring out the best in those around you, which are the other two qualities of a strong job candidate besides “Can you get stuff done?

You don't always need all three C's. For instance, some jobs can be gotten from credentials alone. Conversely, high credibility or charisma can make up for a lack of formal credentials. But the more C's you have, the better.

In the end, there's no simple formula for getting a good job, but some of these ideas may inspire you to think more about how they apply to your own situation. Good luck in your job hunt!

Created: 2016-05-27
Last modified: 2016-06-27
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