WHAT IS THE EMPLOYER REALLY SEEKING in a JOB APPLICANT
When you see a job posting, the first thing you do is send your resume. You might even add a cover letter if you have time. But have you taken time to consider what is behind everything in that job description? For example, have you looked carefully at the beginning, which typically describes the company, its mission, culture, products, and services?
An organization wants employees who are aware of what they do, and in fact, that is one of the first questions they will ask in an interview: What do you know about us?
Here are a few pointers to keep in mind. Employers want:
Someone Who Knows the Company
This means you must do your homework before sending an application. Research the company. Read as much as you can find about them. How do they stack up against their competitors, who ARE the competitors, what is their fiscal situation like, how many employees do they have, departments, etc.?
Someone Who Shows a Compelling Interest in the Role
You do this by writing a cover letter addressing what you know and like about them, even if one is not required. Too many applicants will apply to as many listings as possible, hoping one works out. That is not the best way to go, so if someone sees you have done your research and know about them, this can put you in the 'yes, let's consider this person' pile.
Someone Confident in Their Abilities
Think about what you are good at doing on a job. Identify these skills (i.e., data analysis, collaborating with others, etc.) and highlight them in your application. In an interview, you will have to discuss why you should be hired, so consider your strengths in advance. Ask a trusted colleague or friend to describe your strongest traits if you find this hard to do. Next, practice using specific examples to explain how you have used these on the job.
Someone Who Has a Positive Attitude
When you get to the interview stage, it is crucial to show an optimistic attitude from the minute you meet the interviewer. A genuine interest in a job is difficult to fake. When I conduct mock interviews, I can always tell when a person is saying what they think I want to hear. Also, avoid negative comments about former employers or bosses.
Someone Who Knows Their Resume Inside Out
This might sound obvious, but you must know everything on your resume and be able to respond to 'resume-based' interviews. When I coach clients, I sometimes ask them to tell me more about a particular task listed on their resume. Sometimes, I've gotten the 'deer in the headlight' look. Meaning they wrote their resume a while ago and sent it to multiple job listings without thinking about whether something on the document is relevant for the job.
Overall, try to look at your application process from the recruiter's point of view. What is important to them? Do they need to know every detail about a project? Do they care about early experiences or pieces of your job that do not transfer over to what they need? If not, do not mention those.
Inventory your skills and background and tailor your resume to the job. Emphasize how you made a difference or improved a program, etc. Try not to make your resume resemble a job description because that gets boring.