What Makes You Unique?

May 19th, 2017

As you draft your resume and attend interviews with potential employers, you’ll be making one thing clear: you’re a great match for the available position. You have the skills, experience, and temperament that the job requires and you’ll probably get along well with your supervisors and coworkers. But you’ll also need to make a second case: you’re not just a good fit for the job, you’re a BETTER fit than any of the other candidates in the pool.

First you’ll have to explain that you can provide what these employers need. Then you’ll have to explain that you can offer something the other candidates can’t. The first case will be comparatively easy to make. The second one might be a little harder. Here are a few moves that can help you succeed.

Offer a few requested extras.

Most job posts provide a list of required credentials (like a master’s in accounting, five years of experience, or a willingness to work night shifts), and they also offer a few “pluses”, or skills that can help a qualified candidate stand out. If you happen to have any of these extra bonus traits, don’t fail to mention them directly in your cover letter and resume summary. Use the exact language you see in the post, in case your employers use these terms in a keyword search.

Highlight areas of overlap.

Most of the candidates who apply for your target job will hold the required credentials. But if you can offer all of these must-haves plus a few qualifications that aren’t specifically mentioned on the list, be sure to point this out. For example, your company may be looking for marketing experts to help with a product rollout in Brazil. If you have the required marketing expertise, that’s great. But if you also happen to speak fluent Portuguese, you’ll quickly move to the top of the list.

Show off who you are, not just what you can do.

You may have the skills to execute the job, but if you also have the personality and the personal experience to blend in well with this company and its culture, your employers will want to know. If you feel a unique connection to this business model or your company’s target clientele, tell your story. Explain how you have the personality and the background to shine in this environment.

For more on how to grab your employer’s attention and gain an advantage over your competition, reach out to the Cleveland County staffing and job search experts at PSU.

Interview Mistakes to Avoid

March 24th, 2017

Your interview date is coming up, and you’re ready for almost anything. You have a travel plan and a back-up travel plan, and you know exactly how to show up on time, dressed for success. You know how to highlight your strengths, show some flexibility, demonstrate a relaxed sense of humor, and frame key elements of your experience in the form of stories and narratives. You know what to do. But do you also know what NOT to do? Here are a few simple, avoidable blunders that might send the wrong message. Watch your step and don’t fall into these traps.

Don’t blame others.

In the broadest sense, this one is easy. Of course you won’t badmouth your last boss or talk about how the company let you down. But there are suggestions of blame that are not so obvious. Any time the conversation turns toward anything the least bit negative—anything at all—stay on the alert. Edit your language carefully to make sure you aren’t inadvertently casting shade on anything or person who might be implicated in your struggles or setbacks. Not one negative thing in your past has been caused by anything other then your own fumbles. And since your own fumbles may not be to blame either, step out of this territory as quickly as you can. There’s a time for flexibility, nuance, and accepting the basic failings of human nature. A job interview is not one of those times.

Make a point of learning from your mistakes.

If you need to describe a time when you messed up, a missed deadline, a past job that didn’t work out, or a goal you once had that didn’t materialize, don’t just tell your story and call it a day. Tell your story and then shift gears to talk about what you learned. Explain how the experience led to growth and how you’ll handle the same situation if it ever happens again.

Don’t try to be all things for all occasions.

Your interviewer may ask you a question like: “Are you a leader or a follower?” or: “If you have to choose between meeting deadlines and producing quality work, which do you choose?” and if this happens, just answer the question. You don’t have to say you’re great at both. Don’t try to game the system. Provide the information that’s being asked of you. Tell the truth and answer in good faith. If your interviewer says “There are no wrong answers”, take her at her word. Show trust and respect and you’ll reap the same in return.

For more on how to shine during your interview and avoid the kinds of pitfalls that can hold you back, reach out to the Cleveland County staffing team at PSU.

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