In my previous blog, Your Research Is Gold – Part 1, I mentioned that job seekers tend to provide the same information in their cover letters and resumes, and then repeat this exact same information in an interview. When I interviewed applicants for my company, many interviews surprisingly went something like this:
Employer: Tell me about yourself.
Job Candidate: Well, as you can see from my resume . . . and he or she would repeat the same information that was written in the cover letter and / or resume.
Employer: What are your strengths?
Job Candidate: One of my strengths is my computer skills. I’ve always had a knack for computers.
Employer: Why should I hire you?
Job Candidate: You should hire me because of my computer skills. I’m a fast learner and can learn your programs quickly.
If you were doing this interview, would these answers give you confidence in the Job Candidate’s computer skills? While it is good to repeat a required skill outlined in a job description as part of an interview, give examples and tell a story. (Storytelling + Interviews)
Be prepared to share three or more stories or examples for each skill, ability, characteristic, or piece of knowledge that you say you have. No less than three, because if you choose to talk about the same trait in your cover letter, resume, and interview, you’ll at least have different stories for each situation.
Now, let’s apply this concept to my Job Candidate’s computer skills to see how he or she could improve the answers above.
In the COVER LETTER, after the introductory paragraph, it reads:
In your job description, you require someone with excellent computer skills. Although I was primarily the Office Assistant at X Company, my colleagues trusted my computer knowledge and oftentimes, would ask me for technical support.
In the RESUME, the first bullet under “Qualifications” states:
Computer Skills: Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Outlook; company-based programs
In the INTERVIEW, answers to the questions could be:
What are your strengths?
One of my strengths is my technical aptitude. Managers recognized it and would have me learn new or updated systems, so I could train staff on how to navigate and use them.
Why should I hire you?
You should hire me as your Office Admin Specialist because I understand your need for someone with excellent computer skills. For example, admin work requires using Microsoft Word and Excel extensively. I can write formal documents such as memos, proposals, and other business letters with Word. And, with Excel, I can create customized reports within 30 minutes.
As you can see, even though the job candidate was still concentrating on computer skills, the repetition in this case included different examples on how it was actually applied. This reinforces the required skill while building confidence in the job candidate’s abilities.
Right now, you’re probably thinking that you can’t remember three or more examples for each skill you have. It might take some time to recollect those memories. However, one way to recapture those moments is to create a journal documenting all of your work activities, in what I refer to as a reverse diary. More on this in a future blog.
Meanwhile, in Your Research Is Gold – Part 3, I’ll provide you with other resources where you can find information on companies as part of your job search. Until then, may your research be fruitful.
Josie Toth is a Regional Facilitator for Workforce Solutions in the Houston – Galveston area. She conducts job search skills seminars throughout the 13 county Gulf Coast region. After serving in the military, Josie utilized Workforce Solutions’ services. Her desire to help people led to an employment counselor position with Workforce Solutions, which she held for four years, until she found her niche as a Regional Facilitator.