“What am I supposed to say?” An email came in from a busy executive in need of help. He was struggling to explain why and how he was a good fit for a position he had been referred to by a colleague. He knew he was a good match, but was getting frustrated when he tried to match his skills with the requirements of the job advertisement, “I can do the job….I just don’t know what they want me to say.”
It’s fairly common for people to have this experience. It’s not like anyone spends countless hours looking in the mirror reflecting on the years of contributions he or she have made throughout his or her career.
The following questions are designed to light the spark and help shine a light on the things employers want to know about you.
- What contributions can you make to the company’s bottom-line?
Employers want to see that you have expertise doing what they need you to do. Point to real examples of where and how you made contributions in previous positions. Be honest, accurate, and specific about the information you choose to share. Take this to the next level by showing results you have achieved for previous employers.
Example: Turned-around distrustful work environment with low morale; developed and employed leadership charter that improved solidarity, increased morale 38% and decreased complaints 72% within four months.
Remember to Prove it –Supporting your claims with facts and figures takes effort. Smart candidates invest time tracking down quantifiable results to share with potential employers. These numbers give context to claims and leave employers with a strong understanding of your capabilities.
- An employer will offer a compensation package; what do you offer them in return?
Ponder this for a moment: The employer is taking a risk hiring you and paying an appropriate compensation for the perceived value you will bring.
- What’s in it for them?
- What will you give them in exchange for your salary or wage?
- How will you deliver value to the company that is worth at least what they are paying you?
You must demonstrate you are a worthy investment.
- How will you make the company better, stronger, more efficient?
Companies want to thrive and succeed. They hire employees to achieve this goal. Spend a few moments considering how you have helped companies stabilize, or grow, or improve in some small (or large) way. Even if you are starting out in your career, there is something you are doing to help the company achieve its goal, mission, or vision. What is it? A company would not hire someone to do a job if there was no value in it for them. Find out what it is and talk about it to potential employers. (Examples: generate revenue, lead teams, streamline processes, support customers, align priorities)
- Why should a company hire you instead of all the other qualified candidates?
First, outline all the reasons why you are a strong candidate. Have you taken the time to address each of the needs of the position? Can you point to real-life stories that support each of the qualifications required of the position? Even if you don’t meet all of the qualifications, but most of the qualifications, you still have a good chance.
Second, what makes you special or stand out from others? What’s the one positive thing people are always saying about you? This is your added-value— the thing your colleagues and employers most value in you—the thing you do so well that others are constantly praising you for it (regardless of how effortlessly you do it). It could range from your sense of humour to your commitment to customers, to your ability to engage employees – it could be anything that adds value to the company. If you can find yours then you have found the unique value you bring with you to any company.
- What can/will you do for the organization in the first six months on the job? Nine? Twelve?
It’s time to start thinking like you have earned the job. What contributions can you make once in your new role? Perhaps you had better conduct some research first. Start with something simple: What’s the company’s mission? Can you add value to it? What are some of the ‘pain points’ for the company? Can you offer solutions? The important thing is to think like you have earned the job and devise potential solutions to any challenges you perceive. With some idea of the challenges being faced, you can prepare stories that demonstrate how you have handled similar situations. You can expand on these and share results you have achieved in those types of scenarios.
Once you have read through each question and contemplated your answers write them down. These are the stories employers want to learn from you. This is the value you have to offer. With these stories ready at the helm, you are prepared to address employer’s needs throughout your entire job search and it will enable you to pinpoint opportunities to ask well-informed questions about your new role, colleagues, duties, and company.
You are a good fit for the role you are pursuing. You know that. The hard part is demonstrating your value to people who don’t know you. Not only do you have to tell them you can do it, you have to prove it by citing examples of how you have done so in the past and how you can replicate results for them in the future. Reflecting on these five questions will prepare you to demonstrate your value in the future. When you know what you have to offer and can deliver that message confidently you become a very attractive candidate in a sea of wannabes.
Related Categories: Career Clarity, Job Search
About The Author
Maureen McCann is an award-winning career coach, master resume writer, and master certified interview, employment, and career strategist whose clients include C-level executives, managers, and professionals in all industries including the Canadian banking, oil and gas, healthcare, IT, and government sectors.