Catherine Byers Breet, founder of Arbez, does a number of excellent presentations on an effective job search around the Minneapolis area. One of her presentations is titled: Would you hire you?
Although I haven't seen her presentation, the title intrigues me and raises an excellent question that many job seekers don't think through enough as they prepare to present themselves to potential employers.
I would assume that most job seekers would immediately answer "Of course!" to Catherine's question.
They know themselves best, and know what they bring to the table for an organization. In far too many instances, however, there is a wide chasm between what the job seeker knows about the value they bring to an employer, and what the employer sees in the interview process. Job seekers assume that the match is obvious while the employer doesn't necessarily see a match at all!
What's the cause of that chasm, and how can it be overcome? Here are some observations…
Know yourself! Before you can convey your value to anyone else, you have to be sure of what it is yourself! If you aren't certain of your fit and value for a role, there's no way you will be able to convince an employer. Do some self-reflection, and assessment so that you are sure of what it is you offer. You can get some additional help by reading Know Yourself!
What do you communicate? Although you may be certain of your fit and value, if you're not being deliberate about communicating it effectively to an employer, they will likely miss it. I often coach job seekers to tailor their resume to each position they pursue to make sure their most relevant experience is emphasized. It's common for people to show me a resume claiming all the relevant information is included, however upon examination, the most important facts may be listed 4th in a list of 7 bullet points. While the information is there, it's very easy to miss! The same kind of thing happens in interviews. Although the most relevant information may have been mentioned, it's critical that it be emphasized to make sure it was heard and understood. It's the job seekers responsibility to make sure that happens, not the interviewer. Be sure to highlight the experience that best matches their requirements, not just the experience you may be proud of, but is irrelevant to the job. Help them connect the dots!
How do you present yourself? While prior experience is important, people get hired based on the whole package. When the personality, style, and image of the person in front of them don't match the words, it creates concerns about the veracity of their answers. If someone portrays themselves as someone that takes initiative and is a "go getter", yet their answers are slow, and awkward, and lethargic, it creates a great deal of doubt. If someone talks about their organization skills and attention to detail, yet looks disheveled and carelessly prepared, it seems inconsistent with their words. While people don't usually get selected because the company is targeting a certain "look", they do expect to see consistency between what is said and how they present themselves. Furthermore, don't discount the importance of "chemistry". Any employer is also asking themselves: "would I feel comfortable working with this person 8 hours per day". It's a legitimate concern. So if your experience matches the position, however, you don't seem to build rapport, it's not likely to be a match.
Be honest with yourself! Many job seekers tend not to be honest with themselves. They aren't realistic about how well their background matches the position. They delude themselves that the rapport with the interviewer was much better than it actually was. They believe they communicated their fit much more effectively than they actually did. Or they believed their professional demeanor or appearance was "good enough". If you find that you're not getting positions where you were convinced you 'aced' the interview, perhaps you need to make a more honest assessment of how well you handle things.
While you may know your fit well, if you don't communicate it effectively, present yourself well, and assess your performance honestly, you will not likely get the job. Look, and listen to yourself from an employers perspective and you may start getting better results!