Phase one of a job search – Know yourself and be able to articulate it well
In my last post I talked about the five phases involved in an effective job search campaign.
Phase one is all about being able to describe your skills, competencies and success stories, not only on your resume and LinkedIn profile, but while you are networking, and especially during interviews.
It would be a lot easier to do this if you regularly documented these things at your job, however most people don’t do this, relying instead on their performance reviews. We know that performance reviews are flawed and can’t possibly capture the entire picture of your achievements, stories and competencies.
Let’s look at three areas to focus on.
Achievements (or accomplishments) are specific projects you worked on, are proud of, and can be described in terms of what you did (actions) and the results you achieved (how it improved or benefited your employer, clients or your department.)
Using action verbs to describe them is ideal such as revamped, developed, transformed, restructured, etc. The results are more powerful if they are quantified with numbers – $, %, time or headcount saved, etc.
Telling a story to support your achievements will make you stand out from other professionals with similar experiences. It’s important to actually think about and write out your story. A story starts with the actual situation, issue or problem (our customer tracking system was manual,) then the obstacle that was impeding success (we did not have any technology in place and were allocated a small budget,) the actions you took to change it (led a task force, interviewed software vendors, collaborated with IT, piloted new system, etc.) and the results that were achieved (launched a new system within budget and deadline which resulted in increased efficiency in tracking customer spending habits and retention.)
The element that most people forget is to talk about the skills or characteristics you possess that made the achievement happen (leading teams, solving problems, project management, perseverance and strong relationships throughout my organization.) This is what really makes you stand out and be memorable in an interview.
3. Most job descriptions list broad competencies (made up of multiple skills) that an employer wants their employees to possess. Competencies are things like financial management, leadership, continuous improvement, sales management, etc. Thinking about your achievements that align with a competency is a great approach to take when interviewing for a job.
The more thought and preparation you put into this phase of job search, the more successful and comfortable you will be at answering questions and selling yourself.