Q. How do you persuade an employer that you’ve got the skills they want?
A. Find out what skills they want, then (if you’ve got them) say so!
It’s actually one of the simplest tactics to help you get a job, but for some reason many candidates have trouble with it. Everyone has their own view of what are their greatest achievements and most important skills, and it’s easy to get over-keen about getting them across. But if your ideas don’t tally with the employer’s view of what the job requires, then you’ll miss the mark.
10 steps to telling an employer what they want to hear:
- Read the job ad and/or person spec carefully and underline all the ‘key words’ relating to the skills, experiences and personal qualities required.
- Now go through the key words and circle the ones that you can, in all honesty, say that you have. Ignore the ones that you don’t have – but if there are a lot of these then you should probably reconsider whether you’re likely to be successful. As a rough guide, you should be able to say ‘yes’ to at least 80% of the requirements.
- Edit your CV. Decide what you think are the 3 or 4 most important skills/qualities that are required in the job spec, and for which you have good experience. Expand your CV in these areas, adding in examples of your achievements if possible.
- Are there any key words which are true of you/your experience but that you hadn’t previously included in your CV? Find a way to add them in now, with evidence if appropriate.
- Now check over your CV vocabulary, changing it so you match the key words as closely as possible. Literally. If your current CV promises you have ‘excellent communication skills’ while the job spec asks for an ‘articulate individual’, then use the word ‘articulate’.
- Are there any elements of your CV that appear to contradict what the employer wants? For example, you might describe yourself as a ‘great team-worker’, but the job spec might call for someone who can ‘work independently in a small office’. It might be time to delete the bit about being a team-player… or possibly to reconsider whether you’d really like this job.
- Are there elements of your CV that are irrelevant to this job application? For example, do you have experience of events management as well as the social media duties required by the job spec? Minimise or delete anything irrelevant – it just gets in the way of making the relevant parts of your CV stand out.
- Now write your covering letter, following a similar approach. Choose 2 to 4 of the employer’s requirements that you are brilliant at. Echo the key words from the job spec.
- When it comes to the interview, keep the same focus on the employer’s needs.
- Finally, ‘part time’ or ‘flexible hours’ are not key words in the employer’s requirements! Never say, during the job application process, that you’re applying for the job because of the part time or flexible hours. It’s all about proving you’re the best candidate for the job, and the working hours are not relevant to that.
This step by step approach will mean that every job application takes you twice as long as it did previously! But it should prove worth the effort.
Good luck – we hope you’ll be successful soon.
For more advice on how to write a good CV, consider booking onto a CV Clinic workshop from our sister company, Women Like Us.