Over the many years I have helped people to find work opportunities; one thing has always remained common place for employers, they seem to design job descriptions that scream “In Search of the Perfect Hire,” in order to weed out people who may not fit their laundry list of often times, over the top criteria. Another reason behind this exhaustive list of criteria may just be to send a message that only the most qualified need apply. Whatever the reason or motive behind it, these clever job descriptions are generally written by managers and human resource professionals who most likely have never performed the actual work they are hiring for.
I have seen some laughable criteria and one of my favourite examples was an employer looking for an entry level receptionist, and the first requirement: a bachelor degree and 5 years experience. Are you joking? A bachelor degree to answer calls and greet people? Yes, I’m sure there is more to the job, such as: computer skills, drafting letters, memos, operating office equipment, opening company mail, etc…but where would a bachelor degree be beneficial for any of this? Furthermore, I could see asking for 1 year experience but 5 years, really? I saw this posted about eight years ago and to this day, I can’t wrap my head around it. It is however one of the many reasons that led me to this profession and the reason I am so adamant about two things before applying for anything…
- Research First!
Get familiar with the company and position before you apply! Sure, it’s a little time consuming but in the long run, it’s better to know what you’re getting into.
- Read the company website…all of it. Jot down some notes and possible questions you might have.
- Visit their LinkedIn page, Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites to find out things they may not post in their website
- Also, rather than just relying on their job description, get more information about the position by looking on the government job bank, i.e. Canada Job Bank – Explore Careers or in the US O*Net Online – Find Occupations
- Network! Talk to or connect with people who work for the company, i.e.: LinkedIn
Government job banks are extremely useful especially when trying to figure out how much the job pays, as it’s rare that employers post the salary but often want you to tell them your salary requirement…These sites will give you a salary range to discuss with the employer rather than leaving you to ask for a wage that is either too high or too low for the employer to even consider. For even more information on how to research your next employer and job opportunity, please see “Time For Change-Phase 5: Job & Employer Research.”
- Identify & Match Your Skills to the Position
This is crucial to your job search, as often times we become so set on one type of position that we miss other opportunities. Missed opportunities are the most common job search mistake because when we don’t allow for change, we are not growing our skills, or “broadening our horizons.” Instead, we remain doing the same thing we’ve always done and expecting different results, which is negatively impacting our overall success! It’s also the best way to eliminate any hope of ever having job satisfaction and most likely the best way to end up with a satisfactory job.
I do understand that we need income and sometimes finding a survival job is our only option but consider this…if one-third (if not more) of your life is spent working then why aren’t you trying to find a job that works for you, rather than working for the job? By all means, do that survival job but don’t feel it has to be the only job out there…keep your options open for better opportunities and apply for things you are qualified for while you work! Which brings me back to, identify and match your skills to the position.
There are several things employers look for in the potential candidate but over or understating your skill set will get your resume to the recycle bin faster than the speed of sound. A typical job description will talk about the expectations of the position and then follow up with qualifications the candidate needs to even get the interview. They incorporate soft skills, technical skills, education and experience into their list of qualifications and if your resume falls short in these areas, it’s time to re-evaluate your skills, as well as the type of position you are seeking.
I have put together a table as a tool you can use to create your list of qualifications. The purpose of this table is for you to remove things that don’t belong and add or keep the things that do. It will also help you to define your most relevant and transferable skills to compare with jobs you are interested in applying for. Once you complete the table, print it out and use it alongside the job descriptions you want to apply for by making check marks next to the skills you have that match those in the job description.
My only rule of thumb when using this method for your job search is to only apply for the jobs that match 70 percent or more of your skills. Otherwise you are more than likely spending time applying for jobs you have no chance of getting an interview for…Who wants that rejection? Spend your time applying for things that match your skills and you are qualified to do. Here is the link to the table in word document form. Please feel free to download, save, make changes and print it out for your reference. For more information about matching your skills, please see “Time for Change-Phase 4: Skill Analysis.”
As Always, Thanks for reading and best wishes for your new opportunity!