Being passionate about your job is a win-win situation for both you and your employer. So why do so many people end up in jobs they don’t care about? Perhaps they weren’t approaching their job search in the right way. If you’ve been out of work for several months and are starting to get desperate to pay the bills, you might be tempted to take the next job that comes along -- and in many cases that may be your only option. While there's the possibility you’ll get hired, this type of desperation is usually pretty obvious to a hiring manager, and there’s a good chance you’ll lose out on the job to a less experienced person who is truly passionate about the position. One dead giveaway that you're just looking for a paycheck is if you apply to jobs below your skill level, like a first year agency desk when you've already been an assistant for four years. Hiring managers know that you’ll probably get burned out on the desk, and they’re likely to look elsewhere for their star candidate.
So, how do you break the cycle of failed interviews? You need to try your absolute hardest to find a way in to the companies you care about most. Your natural enthusiasm for a position will come across easily in an interview, but if that enthusiasm isn’t there, you're likely to give overly rehearsed and robotic answers that won’t do anything to help your case. Think hard about the types of companies you want to work for and the roles that would fit you best. Make a list of your top 10-15 dream companies, and check their job boards every day or two for openings. You should also use your personal network or LinkedIn to try to make connections at these companies in the meantime and schedule informational interviews whenever possible.
Another strategy is to assess your talents. What responsibilities have you enjoyed and excelled at most in the past? What are your specific professional interests? You may be able to find a great position at a lesser-known company that aligns perfectly with your goals and skills, and you’ll have an easy argument to make once you get to the interview. Going this route may also lead to the possibility of you finding an awesome (and maybe more well-suited) position at a company you wouldn't have otherwise considered.
With either approach, you need to find specific targets and focus on them, rather than shooting blindly and hoping something hits. Be persistent, and the right thing will surely come along!
--Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan