Article originally published in the Philadelphia Business Journal on October 12, 2020.
Two weeks ago, I was a guest at a virtual event by the Professional Services Group, a New Jersey organization focused on providing advice and guidance to mid-career individuals who are in transition and searching for their next job. I spoke about how you can differentiate yourself from other job seekers in the job search process.
As companies screen resumes and decide which candidates to invite in for an interview, they ask themselves, “What can this candidate do for us – what is this candidate’s value proposition?”
Companies want to hire people who:
- Will help them achieve their goals
- Excel at the job and achieve results
- Help them in their journey to become the preferred provider to their marketplace
- Work collaboratively with their colleagues and be a positive addition to the organization
- Take the mantel of leadership when the circumstances warrant
- Commit to continuous improvement
- Nurture a culture in which employees develop a sense of ownership in what they do
- Possess good communication skills and can sell their ideas to their boss, peers and direct reports
- Push through their self-perceived limitations
- Are not afraid to get out of their comfort zone and will encourage their direct reports to do the same
- Challenge existing paradigms, which are established ways of doing things
These are not soft skills, they are power skills. They are as important as technical skills for personal success.
I told the audience that when preparing your resume, you should include as many of the skills and traits listed above that describe you. This will differentiate you from others applying for the job, which increases your chance of getting an interview.
Before your interview, research the company and learn about their lines of business, industry trends and their competition. This will help connect your skills with those needed by the company, and help you talk about your value proposition – how you can assist the company to achieve its goals.
Build your personal brand as a way of differentiating yourself from others. Travel the journey to be a recognized thought leader within your industry or area of expertise. Be a speaker or panelist at trade association events. Write articles on LinkedIn or write blog posts on topics of interest. Establish a personal website to share what you have written and list the events where you have been a speaker.
You will most likely get your next job through people in your network, an essential resource. Constantly practice your networking skills. Have the self-confidence to walk into a reception and start a conversation with another individual. Know how to recognize group conversations you can join. Know when to gracefully leave a conversation and join another. Always look for areas of mutual interest that can form the basis of a network relationship.
Regardless of whether one decides on their own to leave a job or is terminated, always guard your reputation and never burn bridges. A former boss can help you in many ways. When checking references, a future employer or their search firm will obtain a reference from your previous employer. You want that to be a good reference.
Your personal attitude is an important determinant of your job search success. Don’t let rejections get you down. You will face many, but eventually you will land a position that will form the foundation of your next career. As I have previously written, there are people in this world who see possibilities and abundance, while others see only limitations and scarcity. Employers want to hire the former.
Stan Silverman is founder and CEO of Silverman Leadership and author of “Be Different! The Key to Business and Career Success.” He is also a speaker, advisor and widely read nationally syndicated columnist on leadership, entrepreneurship and corporate governance. He can be reached at Stan@SilvermanLeadership.com.