Top tips to get your dream job

Honesty, connections and dressing well will go a long way to boosting your job-hunting chances

So you are thinking of a career or industry switch, or maybe you took a sabbatical and are looking to re-enter the workforce.

Perhaps you are a fresh graduate and do not have the faintest inkling of how to score your first job.

Here are five ways that can give you a leg up and help you land the job of your dreams.

Understand the job and how you can value-add

For each job you apply to, you need a tailored resume and cover letter that best advertise your capabilities.

Before you start writing, you need to first understand the nature of the job, how your skills match up and how your charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent can help you edge out the competition.

Study the job description and pay attention to what the role looks for. Whatever the position entails, do you have the necessary experience (both professionally and privately) to fulfil the demands? If so, craft your resume succinctly to match them, and if not, think about what skills and abilities you can learn to meet the needs.

Connections, connections, connections

According to a study led by Mr Brian Uzzi of Kellogg Business School in the US, the nature of connections that men and women had set them apart when they were finding employment.

After a year of studying 4.5 million e-mails from 542 men and 186 women from one of the nation's top Master of Business Administration programmes, the research revealed that networking and gaining contacts are critical in helping make a career switch.

One place you can look at to rub elbows with others is Meetup, an online platform where you can search or create networking sessions with like-minded professionals such as entrepreneurs, bankers and financiers. If not, trade fairs and conventions are another avenue to make contacts.

Dress for the job you want

Research has shown that physical attractiveness can increase your chances of getting hired. But we are not saying you should run to the nearest plastic surgeon.

It is best to err on the side of caution and overdress. Find out what the normative dress codes are in the industry and for most, a sharp blazer, top and tailored pants should suffice.

Next, think about enhancing your features with make-up. Do strategic concealing to cover any blemishes and apply highlighting techniques to emphasise your features.

Go with make-up and dressing that makes you feel confident, because confidence is half the battle won.

Be honest and positive

Make sure you have done your homework and have thought through possible questions the interviewer might ask, and how best to answer them.

Think about how to relate your experiences to fulfil the new job's description. Communicate your strengths as well as your shortcomings.

Sell your positive traits, while at the same time, be humble and honest about your failures and the measures you have taken to turn these deficiencies into a learning opportunity to better yourself.

Also, be prepared for any unexpected questions, especially if you were laid off from your previous job. Be frank about the issue you faced. Keep it professional and discuss what you learnt from it.

Manage your expectations

Stay positive and don't be disheartened if you get rejected. If possible, ask the recruiter why you were passed on and how you could have improved in the job application and interview.

But if you are offered a position, ensure that any administrative issues like salary, annual leave, bonus and medical benefits are clearly listed in the contract before signing.

If the company wants to undercut what you perceive your value to be, be firm with your stance while staying open-minded during the negotiation process.

This article first appeared in Visit to live, play, love and work better and smarter.