job search

Be Who They Want to Hire, or Be Better

21 August, 2017

Stop talking about yourself. Start talking about who they want to hire. The organisation that you want to join has a spec for who they're looking for. You are someone who might fulfil their needs and preferences, but then again, you might not be. What do you have that delivers against what they want? Put this front and centre. Weave this into a story about who you are, and why you are just what they have been looking for. Don’t waste your time or theirs. Equally, if you can’t convince yourself that you’d build something good in this role, don’t apply. If this is a question of underestimating your talents, get an informed opinion on the matter before proceeding. Uncertainty and hesitation may come across in your applications.

A large part of taking this more circumspect approach to job applications is working out who exactly you are putting forward for each application. Get inquisitive about this person to understand how to present yourself in the best light:

  • Read the job description carefully. Highlight key words, and get clear on their must-haves versus their ideal-to-haves. It's sometimes very hard for organisations to find good candidates, let alone "the right" one. If you satisfy their must-haves and none of their ideal-to-haves, still consider putting yourself forward

  • Look at the firm. Explore their website, understand the team you’d be joining, the company culture and vision, and what the firm sells or provides and to whom

  • Look at their team. Use LinkedIn to see what kind of people they tend to hire. If they hire people with lots of languages, for example, you'll want to bring any linguistic prowess out in your application. If you don't have any languages, make sure you have a redeeming factor that compensates for this

  • Think about how you personally can make a significant contribution to the hiring project, team, and organisation. Assume that all the candidates meet the requirements of the job description: what can you specifically offer to put you over and above the other candidates? Paint a picture of this in your application. Even better, submit an application that doesn't explicitly paint the picture, but allows it be inferred

The key point is to remember that every time an organisation sets out to hire someone, they usually have a specific person in mind, whether consciously or unconsciously. It will be this person that they will be looking for as they sift through all the applications they receive. You might already be the person they are looking for. Alternatively, you can be the person that turns their head: you could convince them that what you have is even better than what they thought they wanted. Play ball.

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