I talked with two clients recently who were hired to dream jobs. In both cases, the client hesitated before applying for the position. Steve wanted a position in Europe. However, his heart dropped when he saw the requirements: MBA and second language. Steve had a BA and only spoke English. Then he read the position again and felt that no one could be more qualified based on his experience and achievements. He took a chance and was rewarded with his dream job. Mary works in human services as a counselor. She's performed managerial duties, but never held the title of manager. We wrote her resume to emphasize her roles that required leadership and decision making. Again, Mary didn't think she'd get the job. She applied, went through four interviews, and received an offer. If you think you capable of doing a job, don't be afraid to apply. The trick to getting the job is to show how you are qualified. You need to do this in your resume and during interviews. Employers will look beyond their requirements if you show them why you're the right person. Don't be afraid to the chance. That's the only way to find your dream job.
I often help clients prepare for job interviews. Almost all start by talking about what they don’t have. They are afraid that the interviewer will immediately detect their weakness and dismiss them as potential employees. Nothing could be further from the truth. Smart employers will, of course, address potential red flags like gaps in work history or a lack of experience. However, they are more interested in what an applicant has rather than what she lacks.
Instead of worrying about what you don’t have, start by focusing on your strengths. I tell clients to prepare for interviews by answering this question: “I will be a good fit for this position because (reason).” If you can convince employers that you have the knowledge, experience, and skill needed to do a job, they will be more likely to overlook what you lack or they will be more willing to train you in that area.
Before every interview, look carefully at the job post and company’s website. List ways you will be an asset to the firm. Practice talking about how your previous work experience is similar to what you will do for the new employer. Demonstrate that you will be able to do the job and that you want to do it. Every employer wants skill. What will set you apart is your ability to show motivation and interest in the company.
After you define your strengths and how they will benefit your prospective employer, it is important to practice how you would address any weak points. Keep these answers short and clear. Whenever possible, demonstrate how you are working on overcoming any problems. But remember that this exercise should not take even half the time you practice different ways to present positive reasons why you should be hired. Employers want the best person available. You are more likely to be that person if you know how to sell your strengths.
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.