Do you want to know what the single biggest mistake people make when looking for a job is? They fail to show the value they have to offer employers.
The basic question behind every question in an interview is "Why should I hire you?"
As the job seeker, it is your responsibility to figure out a way to translate your strengths, wants and needs into benefits for employers. The fact that the employer is only 10 minutes from your house, pays $20,000 more and offers you a greater professional challenge does not demonstrate how you help them solve their problems. You must be prepared to demonstrate how your unique gifts and talent are of value to this specific employer.
If your answer to that is "I don't know," you are in trouble. It is your responsibility to know. In order to design a career/life plan that will bring you joy and fulfillment, it is imperative to know what your strengths, wants and needs are. Critical self-analysis provides you with the necessary data to target specific types of employers that offer you what you want. But you must remember, the employer's primary concern is not your joy and fulfillment. Therefore, your focus must be to demonstrate how your skills and talents will help them solve their problems.
There is no magic, generic advice that would help each of you to translate your experiences into specific benefits for your target employers. There are too many variables to be considered; but it can be done. It is all in how you tell your story. Many times you can even translate a perceived liability into a benefit for the employer. For example an older candidate can demonstrate how he can save the employer money because he is on his wife's health plan and would not need benefits. That factor may be just enough to make the employer select him over other seemingly qualified candidates.
Every job seeker can identify a plausible explanation for why they are struggling in the job market:
- "I don't have any experience"
- "I have too much experience"
- "I am too young"
- "I am too old"
- "It is an old boy's club"
- "I am a white male"
- "I went to the wrong school"
- "My grades aren't good enough"
- "I don't know anybody who can help me"
- "I am white, I am black, I am gay, I am straight, I am fat, I am________
When someone says any one of those things, it is usually true. But all they have done is identified an obstacle. You many not be able to change the fact, but you can change your strategy and mindset to address the challenge. Perhaps your job search skills need tweaking or you can expand your target employers. There is always something you can do to advance the ball. The trick is to consider what is most important to the employer and highlight the skills and talents that address those needs. It is win-win for everyone! You will contribute to the employer's success and the employer will unknowingly contribute to your joy and fulfillment.
Get a Job! 10 Steps to Career Success (Motivational Press, 2015)