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Treat the job search like dating and keep making people love you after you’re hired, said longtime HR professional Gregory Giangrande. The career columnist, Executive Vice President, and Chief Human Resources Officer of Time Inc. opened the Find & Follow Your Passion Conference with honest advice in a fireside chat with FindSpark’s founder and CEO Emily Miethner. He discussed how to find the job, how to get hired, and how to act – and not to act – when you get it.
Giangrande has conducted countless interviews, so he knows when a candidate “pops.” He advised the audience to be self-aware, which will help you know what you want and position yourself for jobs that are a good fit. The best candidate has done their research and knows how to make employees believe it’s a perfect match.
“It has to feel authentic and not desperate,” Giangrande said, “like ‘I was meant to work for you.'”
Good candidates are like a “trojan horse,” he said; they know how get into the company. It’s not going to be with a stand-out resume alone, said Giangrande, because all resumes are good. It’s an equalizer. You need to have a network.
Look to friends, family and school alumni to start building your network, he said. If you want to work a specific company, you need to find an employee that will talk to you.
He said to the most important thing is to get your foot in the door. Even if you are not sure it’s the perfect job, it’s easier to navigate the company, or get a full-time job, once you’re there. Start looking for internships early in your college career at small and large companies. If you’re interested in multiple things, he advised to look for jobs in specific areas.
Your career is a journey and the first job is irrelevant in the larger picture, he said. Even if the job you apply for isn’t perfect, on the interview, act like that job is what you want right now and be prepared.
“What you don’t want to do is go on a job interview and ask the job interviewer to help you figure out what kind of job would be right for you,” he said.
Giangrande said it’s crucial to know not just about the company, but also about the entire industry. Know the company’s primary businesses, their strategy, what’s new, what’s in the news and where the industry is going. Walk in knowing how to match your experience with the company.
“Whatever industry you want to get into, it’s about packaging, branding yourself,” he said.
Don’t be too concerned with company culture, Giangrande said. You can learn more about it on social media, but no company has one culture.
“No one expects that you’re going to walk in dressing, talking, and acting like everyone that’s been there for 10 years,” he said.
Once you’re in, he said working hard won’t be good enough, you have to “crush it.” Go on “a charm offensive” and make everyone in the company want to hang out with you, he said. Be curious and a pleasure to work with. On the flip side, having an attitude will get you fired, he said.
He said be especially careful to make friends with HR. They work with every hiring manger in the company and talk to the managers about you, he said. Any plan to bypass the HR department is “stupid.”
“The HR department can be your best resources internally or your worst enemy,” he said.
You can use the HR department to your advantage to discuss your career. You should also build strong relationships with your boss or manager by asking smart questions and impressing them with your work. These managers can naturally turn into mentors, he said, but don’t think of mentorship as something formal.
If people at the company like you, someone at the might offer to help you find one or someone will fall into that role. After building a rapport with someone by asking their advice and learning from them, you will know you have that relationship. Make sure to offer them something, like coffee or an opportunity to advise you.
“If you make it worth their while you never have to ask them, ‘Will you be my mentor?'” he said. “They’ll just be your coach.”
Use Your Benefits
Companies often offer benefits, whether it’s vacation time, gym discounts, or free food. Giangrande said until you’re a senior executive, you can’t negotiate your benefits.
When you do get work perks, use them all, he said, especially the 401(k) if your company offers it. Put the money in an aggressive growth fund and forget about it, he said. Even if you don’t think you can part with that money, you can.
“If you don’t go to Starbucks twice a week, you can afford your 401(k),” he said.
What were your biggest takeaways from Gregory Giangrande’s talk? Share in the comments.