Soft skills are qualities that reflect what kind of employee you will be. In reviewing job posts, I found that employers are looking for employees who are self-motivated. Here are a few suggestions of ways to present yourself on resumes and in interviews as an employee who doesn't need to be told what to do.
1. Tell a story that begins with these words: "I took the initiative to. . ." or "I volunteered to. . ."
2. Talk about a time you saw a problem and fixed it.
3. Use the word the employer is looking for: "Demonstrated leadership and self-motivation by . . ."
Every boss dreams about having employees who know who to do the job and care about what they do. If you can communicate that you are this type of person (and you have the right kind of experience and hard skills), you will get the employer's attention and be well on the way to a job offer.
Somebody called today to ask about my services. She said that she liked what she heard and that she would call me back sometime in January. I asked her an important question: Why wait? This is a great time to get ready for your job search and, better still, to get a head start on your competition.
If you wait three weeks to start your job search and then take another week to three weeks to finish your resume, you’ve just lost six weeks. Even with the good job news that came out today (unemployment at its lowest rate in 5 years), there is no guarantee that your job search will be easy or simple. In fact, I can almost guarantee that the opposite will be true even when you work hard and are consistent in your efforts. With few exceptions, every job search is difficult. Why wait to get started?
What’s the worst way to look for a job? By waiting for someone to find you. Job boards like Monster and CareerBuilder and social Media such as LinkedIn let us post our resumes, which is a good thing. Some employers will use those tools to recruit employees. However, most employers still expect prospective employees to come to them through networking or by answering a job post.
Posting your resume and waiting is called a passive job search. As the name implies, you’re doing little to find the employer. When you network and respond to job posts, you are conducting an active job search. Job seekers who post and wait often get no calls. Or they wait much longer to get a job than those who apply for jobs and do whatever they can to work their network.
When clients ask me about the best way to look for work, I say they should put a priority on networking while still applying to job posts and identifying companies that need their skills. I do not tell them not to post on job boards, but that action should be a low priority.
LinkedIn is a little different than posting. It’s important to have a good profile because some companies use it to double check your resume. LinkedIn also offers several tools that enhance networking and enable posting for jobs. Learn how to use this tool as part of an active job search.
The most important thing you can do to find a job is to know what you want and work hard to get it through an active job search. If an employer happens across a resume you’ve posted or your LinkedIn profile, call yourself lucky. Every job search involves some kind of luck. The more you look for work in a focused, persistent manner, the luckier you will be.
I was at a café this morning when I overheard a young lady complaining that she could not find a job. First, she told her friend that to get the job she really wants she has to have a graduate degree. The problem is that she can’t afford to pay for school and doesn’t want to take out loans. Then she said that her language skills hold her back because “every job requires Spanish.” Finally, she talked about finding an ideal job that would only require her to work three or four days a week while paying well. That kind of job would let her go to school while working. If we think hard enough, there is always a reason to fail.
If this young woman doesn’t have money for school, she could work for a few years and save money for tuition. Her claim that all jobs need Spanish-speakers is simply not true. In fact, most jobs don’t require a second language. Her dream job of a high-paying part time job might exist, but they are too few to be a realistic goal.
A good job search and good career management is all about finding ways to succeed. Ask yourself: What can I do today or tomorrow to move forward? What are my strengths? What do I have that employers will pay for? These questions all point toward a better future. That’s the direction we all want to go.