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Job Search Advice: Meet the Need


When you see an announcement for an open position, ask this question: Why are they hiring? The hiring process can be expensive in terms of money, resources, and time. And extending an offer to a candidate comes with a certain amount of risk. A recent comment on this blog reminds us all to consider the employer's perspective.

Why are they hiring? They do it because they've identified a void that no one already in the organization is able to fill. Whether it's the result of growth in the business and additional personnel are required to accomplish the work, or a new project that requires skills beyond the capabilities of current staff and training resources, these employers are hiring because there is a need.

Your goals then, as the potential employee, are to find out more about the company's needs, and to demonstrate how you meet them through your application materials, interview opportunities, and professional networking profiles.

Research the Company

Whether you are targeting specific companies or are applying for posted position announcements, take some time to find out more about the organizations before you contact them. Look for information on company websites and social networking profiles that provides details about their culture, mission and values, and how they recruit and select new employees.

You can also refer to research sites, such as Vault and Hoovers Online that maintain company profiles. The University of California, Berkeley Career Center also recommends searching for current information about your industry and specific employers through press release sites such as PR Newswire. All of these sources can inform your application preparation and increase your awareness of current trends in your industry.

Tailor Your Resume

Your job search may cover a wide range of options within your career field and perhaps across various industries. Targeting your materials for each company you contact is ideal. CareerBuilder.com notes that "Your resume isn't about you, it's about them. … Point out how your talents and training dovetail with the company's needs so hiring managers can picture you in the job they have available."

Tailoring your resume doesn't mean that you have to completely rewrite it every time, but you can prepare several different versions that are easily customized to each job application. This may be time consuming for you, but can help the recruiter screening your materials to quickly see how you meet their qualifications. The same guidance goes for your cover letter and portfolio. A one-size-fits-all approach to the job search can limit your opportunities and be too generic to attract the attention of a hiring manager.

Prepare for the Interview

Forbes explains that there are really only three interview questions – all of the others your may encounter relate somehow to these three concerns:

  • Can you do the job? They are interviewing because there is a need to hire, a need for specific skills. There are hard skills (i.e., specific skills in your field, such as nursing or computer programming) and soft skills (i.e., skills common in many jobs, such as communication and problem solving) to address when you respond to questions about your strengths and experience. Think about how you can provide examples of your skills that show them you can do the job.
  • Will you love the job? Employers want employees to be productive on the job and to be motivated to work. Why are you motivated to do the job and will your motivation continue after you are hired? This is important for you and your employer to assess. If you aren't satisfied with the job once you are on board, you will likely start looking elsewhere, and your employer must return to the recruiting process to fill the position again.
  • Can they tolerate working with you?  This one certainly goes both ways, but from the employer's side of the table the concern is how well you will "fit" with the organization in terms of the work environment, company culture, type of work, and existing team members. Do your research about the organization before you interview with them to find out as much as you can about the culture.

The Forbes article advises you to "think of the interview process as a chance for you to show your ability to solve the organization and interviewer's problem." In other words, show your ability to meet the employer's needs.

Manage Your Online Profiles

LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, and other social networking accounts are more difficult to target to specific audiences, but you can take a fresh look at each of them with your job search in mind. Do they generally address the fact that you are looking for new career opportunities? Do they represent your character in a professional way? The Brazen Careerist encourages you to review your online presence and "think about your personal brand and how you communicate your personality and motivation to others." Put these profiles to work for you so that they help make the case that you meet the need if, and when, recruiters search for you online

So much about the job search process is determining what you need. You need opportunities to work in your field, to support yourself financially, to secure benefits for you and your family, and to meet your goals. While these are critical considerations, there's a lot at stake on both sides. Prepare yourself for your next career move by taking a look at the process from the employer's perspective. Don't forget to consult with your school's career center professionals and alumni association for additional guidance and employer connections. 

Image credit: Hampton Roads Partnership, Flickr, CC-BY

February 23rd, 2012 written by (learn more about our authors)

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