“Past performance is the best predictor of future success.”
That’s a phrase many hiring managers live by when evaluating candidates for a job opening. HR Managers often preach that mantra, and it certainly is the safest route to take when they want to be sure of making a good hire.
Job seekers, on the other hand, often want the company to overlook their track record and see the unproven potential they have for a particular role. Their mantra often is “Forget my past… I can do this job!”
So, what if your past performance hasn’t been stellar, or you haven’t had a great deal of related work experience that’s required for this role? How do you stay in the running even though you’re not what they think they are looking for?
There are no “magic bullets”, however, here are some ideas and suggestions that can improve your chances…
Know your strengths and weaknesses – you can’t emphasize appropriate strengths to them well, if you’re not confident about what they are. Take the time to assess yourself in multiple ways… for help, read: “Know Yourself!”
Gather up your applicable skills – Compile a list for yourself of the skills, traits, talents, and experiences you’ve had (in a job or outside a job) that are directly relevant to the position you are pursuing. Document specific examples and testimonials you may have received. Know what you have or what you’ve done that would be of value to the employer for this role.
Script it! – Don’t rely on your ability to ‘wing it’ when you make your case to the hiring manager. Write out exactly what you will say when presenting your qualifications. Read it, edit it, hone it, practice it, memorize it, try it out on a spouse or a friend, hone it some more, practice, practice, practice. Even if you’re someone that speaks very well ‘off the cuff’, you will be much better if you’re well prepared. Write scripts for yourself and you’ll make a better presentation.
Find the sizzle! – A great steak tastes good… but it’s the sizzle when it’s first served that really gets your taste buds interested. The same is true in an interview. The company is probably talking to multiple people that have the skills for the job. Some are likely to have a job history that backs up their claim that they will do well in this role. In order to intrigue them enough to consider you over the others, you must help them understand the value you will bring that no one else can. What makes you unique? How will you solve their problems or fill their needs better than the others? What do you offer that the others don’t?
Demonstrate professional enthusiasm! – Companies want to hire people that are passionate about their work, show initiative, show creativity, and show they want to be there. Make it clear that you are that person. Be careful not to exhibit false, or over-the-top enthusiasm, however, in a well communicated, professional way make it clear that you will bring more, do more, and contribute more each day than anyone else they are talking to.
Even if your resume doesn’t show the ideal background or record of success for a particular role, you can be the one they select if you can credibly demonstrate that you know yourself well, can relate appropriate skills and experiences, are well prepared, can show how you are unique, and express it professionally!