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Jun 23

Why Should I Hire You?

Posted in Career Article, Tips & Tricks at 8:37 am

Recently, Stephanie Somogyi Miller was interviewing candidates for an entry-level public relations position at her company, Spread PR, a Miller/Hamilton company. Over the course of 20 candidates Miller quickly realized — much to her shock — that many job seekers were unprepared when she asked them, “Why should I hire you?”

“I thought it gave people the opportunity to tell me what they wanted to tell me, versus me asking a million questions,” Miller says. Only one candidate was able to give an answer without stumbling. What’s worse, Miller couldn’t envision any of these applicants having a coherent conversation with a reporter if her one question was causing so much distress.

“It is so hard to get a job these days, and I really expected people to be on their game,” she says. “I guess it made my job easier though, because when I finally met someone who knew what was up, I hired her on the spot.”

In today’s job market, where many seasoned workers have found themselves out of a job and plenty of young but inexperienced graduates are entering the workforce, do you have the right answer to beat out the competition?

Here are three common scenarios job seekers find themselves in and how they might handle each one:
The employer thinks … you’re not qualified enough.

So you … prove you have other qualifications that will help you in this position.
Interior designer and author Jeanette Simpson recommends job seekers draw upon what experience they do have to bolster their case.

“Give examples of how you have been a ‘second miler’ by going above and beyond what was expected by previous employers,” she says. “Employers are looking for someone to solve problems and help with their work load. This can often be done by extra effort on [the] part of an employee. Also, point out how quickly you learn and apply knowledge to situations.”

The employer thinks … you’re overqualified.

So you … prove you’re ready for a change.

Lisa Mininni, author of “Me, Myself, and Why? The Secrets to Navigating Change,” thinks workers who are classified as overqualified need to explain why they’re perfectly happy taking on new roles.

“Consider focusing on where you are in your career. If you’ve historically had supervisory or management responsibilities, you may be in a career cycle where you are more interested in contributing at a different level,” Mininni explains. Part of that process is about explaining your professional game plane.

“Outline the career cycles and how where you are in your career cycle can add value to the position. Be an interested listener. Observe how the position fits in to the company and watch for signs of confusion, strong interest and agreement. Ask the interviewer what is most important to [him or her] about what needs to be accomplished by the person in that position and align your experiences with their needs,” she says.

You obviously want the position, otherwise you wouldn’t be interviewing for it. You can try to tell the hiring manager that you don’t intend to leave the moment a better position comes along, but nothing you can say can prove it. Instead, address any potential issue he or she may have with your experience to build your case.

The employer thinks … you don’t have relevant experience.

So you … explain how all experience is relevant.

Simpson’s tips for workers whose experience is seemingly irrelevant are similar to her advice for seeming unqualified workers: Make your past an asset, not a drawback.

“Give specific examples of how your experience is relevant to the job,” Simpson explains. “Customer service experience gained while waiting tables is often negated. Waiters deal with all kinds of people and situations while multi-tasking, working under pressure of short-term deadlines while keeping customers happy.”

Don’t expect employers to connect the dots — they’re busy and have a wealth of candidates from which to choose. Do the work for them. In this economy plenty of laid off workers are looking for jobs in new industries, which means you’re not the only one experiencing this dilemma. Get an edge over other job seekers by turning your varied experience into proof that you’re the right candidate.
Of course, if you feel like your explanations are falling on deaf ears, you can try a succinct approach. Thirty years ago, Sherry Gavanditti was applying at an ad agency and the owner asked her why he should hire her. She didn’t fulfill every requirement listed on the job description, but she knew she was a perfect fit.

She simply told him, “If you don’t hire me, your competition will.”

She got the job.

Jun 02

Using the right keywords in your job search

Posted in Career Article, Tips & Tricks at 12:10 pm

The right words make all the difference in life. Try asking “Wanna get hitched?” instead of “Will you marry me?” for proof.

Even in a job interview, you wouldn’t say, “Hey, dude.” You’d probably say, “Nice to meet you.” And your résumé wouldn’t include slang, either. You know all this. At least, I hope you do.
But the need for well-chosen words starts when you search job postings. From the job title to the list of requirements, knowing how to tweak your words to yield the best results is vital to getting your job hunt started off right.

Here are a few ways to make sure you’re using the right keywords:

Be a copycat
In your résumé and interviews, you want to let your best qualities and unique point of view shine through. But to get to those stages you first have to find the right job. That means you have to do something that’s unacceptable in every other circumstance: plagiarize.

Go to an online job board and search for jobs that you think you’re a great match for. Then study the language they use to perform your own searches.

For example, if you find a listing for a project coordinator position that sounds ideal, you should apply for it, of course, and then pull out key phrases to search other jobs. If they use the phrase “method calibrations,” then plug that into the search field to see what other positions comes up.
Employers might use different job titles or you might find other positions that are good fits but you didn’t know they existed.

Don’t get stuck on titles
When you have defined goals for your career and subsequently your salary, you can find yourself fixated on having a certain job title. Although your ambitions are admirable and beneficial to your career, don’t forget that not all titles are created equally.

Every company has its own culture and often its own lingo. One employer’s vice president is another’s senior associate. Search for the job title you want, but remember to dig deeper for other title ideas.
Look to the responsibilities and skills detailed in a job posting for a more accurate gauge of its duties. You’ll still find the jobs you’re looking for if you search by responsibility instead of title, except you’ll be working backward.

If, for example, you want a retail manager position, then you should look search for related terms, such as “supervisor” or “customer relations.” Filter through the results to find good matches. You might find that you’re a perfect fit for a “team leader” position that you wouldn’t have otherwise found.

Treat it like a search engine
When you’re looking online for something that interests you — say, a new apartment — you suddenly become a master of the Internet query. You’re trying different keywords, searching by zip code one moment and neighborhood nickname the next. If there’s an available property in a two mile radius, you’ll find it. You know how to work a search engine without a second thought.

Take that mentality to your job search. One of the simplest ways to broaden or narrow your search is to use quotation marks. Searching for a phrase without quotation marks (i.e., dental assistant) will find you jobs with either word in the description. However, enclosing the entire phrase (i.e., “dental assistant”) in quotes will only return jobs with those words together in that exact order.

If you find your searches are returning too many hits or too few, play with quotes. You can also used the Advanced Search options to tailor your searches or use other shortcuts, such as minus signs to exclude words from results.