Perhaps you’ve been made redundant, or you’re seeking to step up in your career, or you’re returning to work after taking time off to raise kids. Whatever your reason for looking for work, there are several essential questions that you need to ask yourself.
Steve Gunther, a consultant with specialty recruitment firm 2discover, says that it’s important to clarify these points in your own mind so that you are clear and targeted in your job search, rather than sending your resume out willy-nilly. You should also be prepared to answer these questions in an interview – and if you’re not asked them directly, make sure you find a way of working these points in. Articulating them will help to set you apart from the pack.
Other than the obvious need to pay the bills, it’s important to reflect a little deeper and ask yourself what really motivates you when it comes to work. What gets you out of bed in the morning and keeps you fired up? Is it working in a fun environment, creating systems, feeling that you are helping others, being creative or having autonomy? Being clear about your own motivation is the first step to finding yourself a great job that will keep you happy and fulfilled.
This question is often asked at interviews, but for many people it’s something they haven’t had to articulate before – especially those who are a little out of interviewing practice. Don’t just limit your thinking to your professional strengths.
Perhaps you excel at motivating others or are a great multi-tasker, evidenced by your ability to juggle multiple projects at work while also being an avid runner who knits and participates in a book club. Make sure you let your interviewer know about all the great qualities you could bring to their organisation.
Reflecting on your strengths is important, but here’s where it gets a bit more interesting. What actually sets you apart from others in the marketplace? What makes you unique and what can you offer that no one else can? How can you add value? If you’re going for a job in IT, then presumably all your competitors will have similar qualifications and strengths when it comes to programming skills. However, maybe you also have exceptional writing skills which would be very attractive to a prospective employer. Or perhaps your particular forte is creating new systems and structures – a skill that might come in very handy in organisations requiring someone to create order out of their chaos.
Highlight qualities that are essential for the job you're applying for, but don’t be afraid to mention characteristics and talents that may not be part of the job description – it could be the added ‘extras’ that you bring that set you apart and nab you the job.
Think about your accumulated experiences, both professional and personal, and use specific examples. Demonstrate your practical application rather than speaking in hypotheticals. Cite a solution to a problem that you came up with, and how that led to a positive outcome.
Remember, it’s not all about what the employer wants. It’s just as important to think about what you are looking for in a job and in an employer, so that you enjoy going to work every day and are not always watching the clock, waiting for the day to end. Think about what industry you’d like to work in, the size of the company you’d like to work for, the kind of culture, and where you’d like to be in five years. It’s all about finding the right fit, from both your perspective and the employer’s. That way, everyone’s a winner.