What Obama Can Teach You About Getting Hired
Career lessons from the successful candidate's presidential
We've just witnessed one of the longest and most arduous
in the history of job hunts. Thousands of interviews. A
résumé-vetting process from hell. Reference checking you
wouldn't wish on your worst enemy.
Not many people would or could work that hard to get a job. But
Sen. Barack Obama did and, in the process, offered up valuable
instruction to any job seeker.
Here are three
lessons you can pick up from President-elect
People hire people they
One of the first questions a hiring manager considers is how
well the potential new
will fit into the existing team. A boss is looking for someone
he and his employees wouldn't mind spending eight or more hours
a day with. All other things being equal, jobs go to the
candidates employers like the best. That's why so many hiring
decisions come down to pure and simple
So, your biggest task at
is to get the interviewer to like you. How, you ask? You
already know: To get anyone to like you, behave in a way that
shows you like that person. People tend to like people who like
them first. You do this by being engaged, paying attention,
radiating goodwill, and showing you are happy to be there.
Obama was very successful in creating a positive vibe overall.
It reflected positively back on him.
People hire people who show
really want the
Much of the hiring process seems out of your control. You can't
help feeling that the employer holds all the cards. But you
have a powerful tool totally within your power to exploit:
Persistence is as important as talent or brains. In fact, very
often you can make up in persistence what you lack in talent or
brains. Even better news is that unlike talent or brains,
persistence isn't an inborn trait you either have or don't
have. It's a learned behavior.
Does all of this sound easier said than done? Sure it does,
because job hunting inevitably involves rejection, and no one
likes rejection. You will have days when you're ready to just
give up. There's only one cure for this: When you are feeling
your lowest, your most dejected and rejected, do one small
thing that moves you toward your goal. It will make you feel a
little better. Then do another small thing. You will, in turn,
feel yet better. Rinse. Repeat. The key to being persistent is
realizing that action leads to success, which leads to more
Obama, along with all of the other presidential candidates,
worked extremely hard for our votes. Admire his persistence and
learn from it.
People hire people
This gut conviction, combined with chemistry and persistence,
often trumps experience and qualifications, despite what most
job seekers think.
The reality is that most companies recognize that any new
employee, no matter how knowledgeable, will require a learning
curve. Experienced bosses are frequently willing to train an
intelligent, engaging person they believe will make a good
member of their team.
Consider the election. At the beginning of the campaign,
Obama's short résumé was an issue. Similarly, many thought
Sarah Palin lacked the needed qualifications. Given the
importance of both these positions, you'd think "lack of
experience" or "insufficient qualifications" would have been
deal breakers. But they weren't. People voted their guts.
Potential bosses do, too.
May your own job hunt be as successful as President-elect
And, let's hope, shorter.
, Working Girl, is the author of
The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice
You Can Actually Use, to be released by
Running Press in April 2009. She blogs