The Right Answers to Three Job Search Questions
By Sharon Boerbon Hanson
Today, no room exists for even one small misstep when you search for a job. Knowing the answers to these three questions can make the difference between “We want you” and “Sorry.”
Question: What is a resume?
Answer: For you, it’s a tool to get you the interview. For the employer, it’s a way to narrow the field.
Make sure your resume does what it’s supposed to by following these steps:
- Carefully read the employer’s job description, paying attention to the language.
- Make sure your resume reflects the employer’s language so that you’re communicating effectively with them.
- List actions you took that offered a benefit to your previous employer, and explain what the benefit was.
Example: During an IT project review, I discovered a glitch in the supply system logistics. I implemented an easy to use, online precision-point tracking system that resulted in a 3% faster manufacture-to-market time.
Question: What are employers thinking when they call me in for an interview?
Answer: I can only hire one person; can this one be eliminated?
Here’s how to become reject-proof: Understand that employers want more than IT technical skills. In today’s business climate, except for entry level jobs, knowing how IT can benefit the company will help you stand out.
Example: “As a computer systems administrator, I always seem to wear that hat. While walking through the marketing department I noticed almost everyone had their passwords on sticky notes attached to their monitors. I created an easy to use, password-secured area for password storage to ensure security.”
Question: What do they want? (Avoid the obvious, here.)
Answer: The solution to a difficulty.
Here’s how you become the solution: when asked what your strengths are, or how you have solved a problem in the past, answer in a way that elicits more information about their needs. Then, base your answer on what you now know.
Example: “I want to answer your question in the most helpful way possible. Could you tell me what specific challenges the company is currently experiencing that the person in this position could help you solve?” Then offer a strength or solution that could be helpful with their particular problem.
Employers need to weed out candidates until they find the person who offers all they need, and possibly more. Position yourself as an IT professional who can solve their problems and you’ll improve your chances to hear those wonderful words, “You’re hired.”
Sharon Boerbon Hanson is associate executive director of Advance IT Minnesota, a Center of Excellence that promotes awareness of and excellence in IT careers in order to ensure business success. She has over 25 years’ experience marketing and brand-building, and has been a resume and interview coach 15 years.