If that super car salesman only concentrated on promoting the car and did not focus on you, the customer, he would never sell it. However, if he puts his attention on you and shows you just how the car matches your needs . . . bingo, you buy and everyone walks away happy.
It is easy in a job search to focus only on yourself. You are the salesman and the one needing the job, but the reality is that it’s all about the employer, your customer. It’s about being able to sell and market your skills successfully to him. Let’s break it down.
You may be thinking that “my resume is about me.” Well, not exactly. Your resume is not a ‘one size fits all.’ Have you ever tried on ‘one size fits all’ clothing? It rarely works, yes? Same will happen with your resume if you are sending the same exact one to everyone. It just won’t work.
An effective resume should be a targeted document for each company. After you have thoroughly researched a company, tweak your resume to match that company’s needs. Use their words to describe your skills and accomplishments. Prove to them that you already speak their language, that you are already one of them.
Again, it’s not about you. You need to “sell” the employer on how you are the best candidate for the job. When answering questions, always be focused on the company’s needs. Find a balance between being confident in the fit opposed to being cocky. For example if they ask, “What did you like best in you last job?” don’t answer “the people,” because you won’t have those same people at the new job. Answer with a task or skill that will be the same in the new job. Oh and of course, don’t answer “the pay and benefits.”
This leads to the next part of the interview–your questions to them. Hundreds of human resource directors say that the second biggest mistake a person makes in an interview is not asking questions. So be prepared. It is recommended that you ask three to five questions about the company and three to five about the specific position. However, if you plan to ask about salary and benefits in the first interview, don’t. It is better not to ask anything than to do that.
And yes, it is ok to bring a list of questions with you to the interview.
Many people have a difficult time with the concept of job networking. They see it as begging for a job. Let’s turn this around. What if instead of looking at networking as what you can get out of others, you approach it as what information can you share? Would that make you more comfortable? You may ask, “But I’m unemployed, how can I help others?” Maybe you have picked up some great tips in your search that you can pass along. Maybe they just need someone to listen to them. You can be that listening ear. Networking is all about building relationships. Ask yourself–don’t you prefer a relationship where there is mutual sharing?
I know it can be hard to think about others when the pressure to get a job looms over your head. You may be thinking of the people you need to support. But instead, think of yourself as a super sales person for your super abilities. And don’t forget–it’s all about them.
Cheryl Sandifer is a Regional Facilitator with Workforce Solutions. In that role she has been able to apply her knowledge and experience as both an educator and social worker to conduct job search skills seminars throughout the Houston-Galveston area. She has had opportunity to work with those ranging from entry-level to C-level to help them find a job, keep a job, or get a better job.