You could be like every other job applicant… or you could take these steps to get noticed and be remembered.

We all know it’s tough getting jobs these days. So here are seven tips that will help you nail your dream job:

1. Build a brand

When you’re applying for a job, you could be like so many others – BORING! You could have nothing interesting, innovative, novel or remarkable about you.

You could send in a CV in the same style, font, line-height, line-spacing as EVERYBODY ELSE. Now think for a second, what’s going to be remarkable and memorable about you? Answer: NOTHING!

Businesses spend hundreds, thousands, millions each year building a brand, so why don’t you? If you have no brand and aren’t sure where to start, ask yourself:

  • Am I on LinkedIn?
  • Do I have a personal website?
  • Do I have personal business cards?
  • Is my CV different?
    • Does it have extra polish?
    • Does it have sharp wording?
    • Does it have professional color?
  • Do I have a personal video introducing myself?

Tim Reid at the Small Business, Big Marketing Podcast gives a good introduction to this.

2. Turn up early

The surest way to not get the job is to be late or scrape in on time. If you can’t even turn up on time, then rightly or wrongly, this says a lot about you in the mind of the interviewer.

The sad thing is, a lot of very talented and capable people barely organize themselves and then wonder why they aren’t called back. Don’t be one of these people! Without wanting to flog a dead horse here:

  • Know where you need to be
  • Know who you are talking to
  • Have contact details handy – email, linkedIn, phone, fax and website
  • Check out the place on Google Maps so that it’s easier to find

But don’t be too early either. Being on time means being (no more than) 10 – 15 minutes early. That way you’re not hanging about and needing to be looked after, and you’re not cutting it so close that you’re filling out paperwork when you should be in the interview.

3. Preempt interview questions

When you interview for a role, it’s so important to articulate why you’re it, the bomb- shizzel, the top notch, top dog, the A1 with a bullet! So pre-empt questions that you might get asked and be prepared with answers that show why you’re the right person to hire.

Try what Greek businessman, Aristotle Onassis, used to do: he rehearsed in his mind (for hours if necessary), asking himself questions that would likely be asked and refining multiple answers until he nailed each and every one of them perfectly.

Don’t let yourself be surprised. Take the initiative and pre-empt!

4. Research the organization thoroughly

If you get the job, you’ll probably work there for 2+ years, 44 – 48 weeks a year, 5 days a week, 7 – 10 hours a day. So you should damn well know a TON about these people, what they do, who they are, when they kicked off, why they did so, what they’ve done recently, where they’re going and WHY!

This isn’t sucking up to the teacher and offering them an apple – this is YOUR career and your life. So take it seriously.

Not sure where to start? Here are a few helpful resources: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Tumblr, Companies House (or the local companies register), plus the company’s website and press releases. The list goes on and on.

5. Don’t talk too much

Consider these two quotes:

  • The less you talk, the more intelligent you look
  • The more the other person talks, the more rope they give themselves to hang themselves with

If you’re forever talking, there’s the chance you’ll do one or more of the following:

  • Slip up
  • Use a poor choice of words
  • Use nothing words such as “um”, “err” and “aaah
  • Meander off-topic or in and out of many unrelated topics
  • Confuse people listening to you

If the other person is doing most of the talking, you have the chance to hear things you can use to reinforce and build your case for why you’re the dead-set star that they need. They’re literally giving you ammunition to work with.

Maybe you talk too much because you’re nervous or you’re just a chatty kind of person. Well, take some of the advice from Mark Quinn here on Brazen Careerist and track your speech. He says it well: “If you find yourself talking too much, start asking questions… nothing says ‘I’m intelligent’ more than asking good questions.”

6. Be open-minded

Do you have preconceived ideas about what people, companies and management expect? If you say no, I’d say you’re lying. Of course you do; it’s part of who we are as human beings. But have you ever thought these preconceived notions might just be wrong?

Here’s a classic one: the interviewer is in the position of power and authority. Wrong! Consider this: You’re actually interviewing THEM! That’s right, you are interviewing them, not the other way around. You’ve come to meet with them to see if they meet the following criteria of “You Inc”:

  • Are they a company that you want to work for, that can truly use your skills?
  • Are they providing a position that’s worth your skills and expertise?
  • Will they provide the career opportunities you seek for your career?

7. It’s not all about you

That’s right, it’s not – sorry to say it. Actually, I’m really happy to say it. This is one thing that tripped me up until I got over it.

A key part of the interview process is basic human interaction and psychology. Believe it or not, we’re not that far removed from the rest of the animal kingdom; no matter how intelligent we believe that we are. Each time we walk in to an interview we’re eyeing each other up and down, sussing each other out. What are they wearing? What’s their hair like? Are they standing tall and confident? Do they seem sure of themselves?

No matter what we say, we do judge. No matter how good you are, well prepared you are, firm your handshake is, sometimes you just won’t cut the mustard, at least not in their eyes.

They have their biases and beliefs about you and who they believe is right for the position. Both of these things are outside your circle of control. If they size you up and don’t believe you’re right, unless someone overrules them or they go against their better judgment, you’re out.

The lesson? Don’t take it too personally.

If you take these pointers and build on them, you’ll stand out from the competition by a country mile. You might not always nail the job you want, but you will stand out and you will be remembered.

Which of these is the most difficult for you?

Matthew Setter is a writer, technical editor and proofreader who runs Very Web Written. His mission is to help businesses present their online message in an engaging and compelling way so they’re noticed and remembered.


  1. Tom Gimbel

    Great advice, Matthew. Number one: Build a brand, truly sets candidates apart in the initial screening stages. Candidates that have personalized business cards, letterhead, etc. stand out and impress hiring managers with their extra effort. Here are a few more tips for marketing yourself during a job search:

    Developing a brand will only take a candidate so far…be sure to follow the remaining advice in the article to ace the interview.

  2. Tim Reid

    Thanks for the mention. And if you can’t land your dream job, you can always start a small business ;0)

  3. Abby Hall

    This list is spot on and a worthwhile read… whether you’re looking for a job or not.

    • Matthew Setter

      Thanks for the kind words Abby. Sorry for not replying sooner, think my browsers have been having issues with Facebook recently.

  4. Ca Eightwomendream Teamgroup

    Okay as someone who councils dreamers I completely disagree. To land a dream job you have to know what it is that you love doing and what your motivations are. A dream job could seem like it is to make a lot of money, but then the demands of that job at that money ruin your most important relationships and your health. What exactly defines a “dream job”? Just landing any job could qualify as dreamy in this economy. There is soooo much more to this than polishing yourself to bend into a job that may or may not be that good for you….

    • Matthew Setter

      Sorry that it seemed look like I’m encouraging people to bend or mould themselves to something they’re not, or to be a hollow shell of themselves. But thanks for sharing how you feel.

      The aim is to balance the dream, aim or ambition for a specific role that you have yourself set on, with some of the practical aspects of the job acquisition process, such as psychology particularly. To be sure, this isn’t the whole list and I think we could both agree that that list could go on ad nausea.

      But what do you feel could be some worth additions?

  5. Caesar Olima

    A very informative list and ammunition to have as a careerist.

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