When you’re in the market for a new job, it seems like advice comes at you fast. As you apply for job after job and send out your resume over and over, you can begin to question just why you aren’t getting the response you’d hoped. Or maybe you are getting initial interviews but never seem to progress to the next round. If you’ve ever wondered what it is that employers are looking for in job candidates, we’ve got the three main things employers are looking for when it’s time to hire.
1 – A qualified candidate
This may sound basic, but it’s actually a bit more complex than it sounds. A survey of human resources managers found that 42% of resumes received for open positions are from people who aren’t actually qualified for the position. So this is actually a thornier issue than it may seem to be. Part of that may be because despite having experience in a particular field or position elsewhere, the demands of the job in a certain company are somewhat unique. This can also represent a discrepancy between the education or certification required by one company and not another. After all, if you held the position in your former company without a bachelor’s degree, but the new company lists it on the list of requirements for a candidate, you would technically be unqualified if you applied.
So how best to present yourself as a qualified candidate? One strategy is to answer the question before an employer asks it. If you haven’t had all of the relevant experience required for a position, explain or show why the experience you do have will enable you to perform the task anyway. If you do think lack of an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree is an issue, often due to changing standards in certain corporate fields, consider enrolling in a degree program online to complete your unfinished degree. You can also indicate that you’re presently in school on your resume to help alleviate that concern.
2 – A candidate who’s had a solid career
This doesn’t mean you can’t change positions, or specialties, or even fields. Employers are most concerned that your work history makes sense. Many hiring managers are nervous if they see big gaps in your resume, or that you took an in-between job that seems like it may have been a step backward in your career. While those blips happen to everyone over the course of their careers, it’s important that your resume conveys a coherent story of your employment history. If your resume shows that you completed degrees or certifications that then led to better and better jobs, that’s a great story.
But if your job progression is rockier, consider highlighting what may have been different about a position that might seem like a step-down. It’s important to try to think about what special skills you may have gained in those positions, like experience working directly with customers or being a member of a larger team. Those acquired skills can actually become checks in the ‘pro’ column when a hiring manager is considering you for a position as long as you point out the positives.