Ask James Caan – Issue 97
Today’s job search strategies are about creating your own luck, using the increased competition to prove your real worth and understanding the value of your own personal brand.
As an employer, I’m regularly approached by job seekers who ask me how to differentiate themselves from the competition.
When it comes to hiring, I’m always looking for a glimpse, a glint of real passion for a job. Of course you need the required skills, but to make an impression in today’s market, you need to learn how to re-position your skill set to meet employer’s changing needs.
The job market is tight and you can’t just rely on traditional skills. It’s going to be a challenge, but one that’s worthy of investing the extra effort.
This week I received a letter from Keith, an experienced Oracle Database Administrator who, after 19 years, was made redundant. He has had a number of highly competitive interviews and received great feedback from all of them but with no success. He now wants to know if there any tips for him to ensure he maximises his future opportunities.
Keith, unfortunately, the concept of a ‘job for life’ has long gone. The market is job short and candidate rich, which makes competition for vacancies at an all-time high.
To put it into context, the harsh reality is that from an employer’s point-of-view, there is a glut of good candidates, we’re spoilt for choice. Hiring managers are facing growing inboxes, full of applications; and they are fast learning that there is no need to take unnecessary risks when it comes to hiring.
Searching for a job after 19 years following redundancy is going to be hard. It will require you to leave your comfort zone and understand the value of your skills in today’s market. Most importantly, however, is perseverance and resilience.
And I don’t mean soldiering on, sending 200 CVs to employers. Rather you need to engage in a new way of thinking, exploring new avenues and identifying what additional skills you can bring to the table.
Don’t focus on your own concerns and needs – try and think about what a potential employer is going to be looking for.
To get further insight, I spoke with Chris Jones from Nymad http://www.nymad.co.uk who had this advice for Keith:
‘Keith, in today’s market, it’s not enough just to have the primary skill set that is required, that should almost be a given or why apply? You need to bring out those other skills that will make the difference to your new employer. Skills like exceptional customer service, going the extra mile (but make sure to discuss examples), and taking the time to understand the business process that your technology skills support.
This makes it easier for you to earn the trust and respect of the business community. Above all show your flexibility to embrace new skills, working patterns and new experiences and make the hiring company believe that you will grow with them.
‘At Nymad this is an area we are keen to develop as it’s the trust and bonds built with our customers that define our value. We can only achieve this with people who share this with us so we spend more time analysing these skills in interview than we do the easy to prove technical skills’.
Chris’ advice clearly demonstrates just how employers are looking for applicants who don’t just tick all the boxes, but instead, provide the overall package.
When you’re sitting in front of the employer, the fact that you don’t have the perfect CV doesn’t mean you can’t do the job. There’s no such thing as the perfect candidate.
You do, however, need to re-package your skills to match the employers’ needs. You may be up against another five, six, seven applicants – all with the same skill set as you – so what’s going to differentiate you?
Best of luck,