With unemployment at its highest rate in decades, there are now six candidates for every opening. As a result, it has become more difficult just to get potential employers to give you or your resume a second look, because the volume of applicants for each opening simply overwhelms a company’s recruiting staff and the technology that supports them.
We’ve talked before about the importance of a well-written resume and how it must be tweaked each time based on a particular job’s duties and skill / knowledge requirements.
We’ve also discussed at great length the topic of interview preparation. Role-playing, refining your answers, and a robust understanding of what a company does (and how you might fit in) are absolutely essential.
So let’s assume you have done all the right things and your excellent resume has garnered you a coveted prize: AN INTERVIEW.
Again, you’re ready. You’ve researched the company and learned everything there is to know about how your skills and knowledge will be an asset. You’ve role-played, chosen a top-notch outfit to wear, and you’re good to go…right??
Let’s pretend you’re about to interview for a sales position. It goes without saying that the hiring manager will be asking about things like your sales goals, actual sales, pipeline, etc. Easy-peasy, you simply give them numbers and they either like them or not. Most likely, you’ll also talk about how you develop and maintain business/sales relationships and other sales-related stuff. If they like your answers—and like you—chances are good you’ll get hired.
But what if you’re not in sales? How do you “show” a hiring manager what you can do? It’s once thing to “say” you’re a great writer, a top-notch recruiter, or the best widget maker, but how do you show them what you’ve done and how you will benefit a new employer? For sales people, it comes down to revenue: how much business can you bring in? Will you add to our bottom line?
For other job seekers, it may not be so easy. While writers bring writing samples and recruiters bring staffing goals and time-to-hire numbers, it may not be enough. While samples are nice, hiring managers are thinking: “How else can I figure out what this person is all about?”
If they don’t know how to figure you out, you need to show them. Keep in mind that many interviewers really don’t know how to properly conduct interviews, so you must lead them by “managing” the conversation. This is done, in part, through what I call the “I Am Great” folder, which you bring with you on the interview and go to when you respond to a question by saying, “In fact, let me show you what I mean.”
What I’m saying is that for nearly every anticipated question that may come up during an interview, you have a sample that SHOWS the interviewer what you’ve done.
Let’s say the hiring manager asks this question: “How do you feel about writing about brain surgery instead of spontaneous combustion?”
(Now, with a question like this, it is inferred that you may not have the exact skills they’re looking for.)
You respond in this manner: “While I’ve written about spontaneous combustion for a few years now, I like the idea of transitioning to a new topic. IN FACT, here (envision yourself handing the hiring manager a page from your I Am Great File) is a thank-you email I received from a manager I helped out in another division. They needed someone to quickly jump in to write about xxxx, and I was able to complete it in half the time, even though I had not previously done this type of work before.”
Ok, a bit long-winded, but my point is this: it’s one thing to SAY you are flexible and can quickly learn new things. It’s quite another to SHOW an interviewer what you’ve done to back up your claims.
Give some thought to what you’ll place in your I Am Great file. Mine always included writing samples, but I also made sure to include copies of performance appraisals (to show what my previous managers thought of me), any proof of going above and beyond my position, or emails attesting to my absolute greatness.
While lots of folks talk a good game, it’s imperative that, as a job seeker, you learn to how brag a bit (and feel comfortable doing it). You need to find ways to convince employers to hire you by showing them what you’ve done for past employers and how you can do the same for them.
So what will YOU put in your I Am Great folder???
Article courtesy of the Recruiting Blogswap, a content exchange service sponsored by CollegeRecruiter.com, a leading site for college students looking for internships and recent graduates searching for entry level jobs and other career opportunities.