Candidates from all walks of life, experience levels, and industries come waltzing through our door in high hopes that they’ll leave with a new job and a fresh perspective. If we’re lucky (and I mean really lucky), they’ll hand us a rock-solid resume, demonstrate a clear understanding of their career goals, and have those “commonly asked interview questions” down to a tee. Yet these poor fellows who seemingly have it all together are still unemployed or underemployed. Often, our agency is their last place to turn for answers, and we can smell the desperation the second they enter the room. They take a seat across from one of our recruiters with visible signs of frustration written all over their tired faces and look up at us with those same imploring eyes as if to ask, “Why?”
They ensure us that they’re saying all the right things and checking every last detail off their job search list, but they just can’t seem to close the deal. And since it’s quite obviously not their fault, they resort to the blame game, claiming it’s the stupid economy’s fault or their brother-in-law’s, who pushed them to pursue whatever dying industry they’re stuck in. When they finally reach our doors, their confidence is gone and their unemployment benefits have run dry. We’re their last chance at a better future, they tell us. So what’s missing from the impressive repertoire of skills written in plain black and white? In our firm’s three decades of experience, it’s always the same answer: they’ve neglected to view the job market from an employer’s perspective.
Most job seekers approach the hunt with what we call a “candidate mindset” – a one-sided outlook that points fingers at everyone but himself for his career woes, leans on negativity and desperate measures to make ends meet, and has one measly goal in mind: to get a job. Put simply, the reason why able candidates don’t get hired is because they look at the job search process as a painful necessity rather than an exciting opportunity. Would you invest in someone who’s heart doesn’t seem to be in it? We didn’t think so.
Try imagining yourself sitting on the other side of the desk. You’re looking at several individuals to help you solve a problem – a gap within your ranks that needs filling – not simply to get a job. You invite them to come in for a meeting – or in candidate terms, an interview – to help you unpack what makes this person a good fit for your organization. With crazy questions like, “how many golf balls can fit in a school bus,” it may feel as though employers are giving you the third degree when it comes to assessing your skills. But really, they’re not looking for an exact answer. Rather, they simply want to know what you bring to the table and get a glimpse into your character – in this case, how adept you are at trouble-shooting and how easily you give up on a problem.
Today, it’s more difficult than ever to hold onto great talent, which is why employers are taking drastic measures to ensure that their next investment is in it for the long haul. By practicing this exercise before each interview, not only do you gain a whole new perspective on the job search process, but also are better equipped to answer their questions. Instead of focusing on landing the job to pay this month’s rent bill, your goal should be demonstrating your value and relating your skills to the role in question. Employers don’t care about your personal issues; they’re more concerned about their own problems, namely, how you can make or save them time and money. We even have a fancy name for it: unique value proposition or UVP. To craft a winning UVP, refer to the job description to get a better understanding of the hiring manager’s needs, and think about what qualifies you to meet those needs. For more on the employer mindset, sign up for our FREE Webinar: The Job Search Essentials.
Here’s a job search tool that will dispel all the employment myths you’ve been taught, including the one about our economy. Our FREE “10 Pieces of Bad Advice” will enlighten you on career topics you’ve never considered. In it, you’ll find that the media isn’t always right when it comes to the job market.