Questions and Answers with Career Expert Jeanne Knight
Please note: On a somewhat infrequent basis, Quintessential Careers asks noted career experts five questions related to their expertise and publishes the interview in the current issue of QuintZine, our career e-newsletter. Those interviews are archived here for your convenience.
Jeanne Knight is a career and business coach.
|Q:||What are the top 5-10 skills that most employers are really looking for these days? What are the key skills that make job seekers employable?|
|A:|| Although we’re in an employer’s market, the skills that companies require in candidates differ little from what they looked for a few years ago. Sure, it seems that applicants need to meet 110 percent of the job requirements just to get an interview. But even if a candidate has all the requisite “technical” skills, there are other skills that are vital to the success of an organization. Several key skills and qualities that will help make job seekers employable include:
|Q:||What do you feel is the most disturbing trend in job-hunting today?|
|A:|| What disturbs me most about today’s job market is how often I’m hearing that employers aren’t contacting candidates after an interview to tell them they either want to continue with the process or that they’re no longer interested in the person’s candidacy. Searching for a job in this market is tough enough without a job-seeker getting his or her hopes up after a seemingly successful interview, only to never hear back with a “yay” or a “nay.” We all understand that managers have been left understaffed and overworked in the wake of recent layoffs. But more and more candidates are going on first, even second interviews, and never hearing back from a hiring manager, leaving them to wonder, “What happened?”
What should a job-seeker do? I suggest they use the same strategy successful sales people do… always make sure you have other opportunities in the pipeline. As soon as you return from an interview, carefully compose a thank-you letter to each person you interviewed with reaffirming how your skills and expertise will help them achieve their goals. And then immediately move on to other aspects of your job-search campaign. Continue contacting people in your network. Go to professional meetings and networking events. Research companies, and see if you can network your way in. Talk to people� get out… don’t sit and wait for the phone to ring. Continuing to keep busy and seeking out other job leads will help curb the “after-interview anxieties” and ensure you don’t leave all your eggs in one basket.
|Q:||What’s the biggest mistake job-seekers make that your advice could correct or prevent?|
|A:|| As a former director of human resources, I’ve interviewed hundreds of applicants, and I’ve always been surprised by how many people walk into an interview under-prepared. So many candidates don’t seem to take the time to carefully identify their skills and past accomplishments, and how they can help a department tackle its challenges and achieve its goals. Even if they’ve done their homework, they can’t seem to convey their background and expertise articulately and concisely and with energy, enthusiasm, and confidence. I’ve seen too many people who were perfectly qualified on paper miss out on the opportunity of a lifetime because they weren’t able to articulate their skills and qualifications in a way that “sold” me that they were the right candidate for the job.
In preparing for interviews, I suggest job-seekers reflect on their “success stories” and practice sharing them in a way that “sells” their qualifications and speaks to the requirements of the position and challenges of the organization. Thoroughly researching the company and being prepared to ask thoughtful questions that convey their knowledge of the company’s strategy, goals, and direction is crucial. And they must be ready to answer the tough, “Tell me about yourself” and “Walk me through your resume” questions with enough enthusiasm and information to create interest, but without rambling. Careful interview preparation and practice is key in this market if job-seekers want to stay ahead of their competition.
Jeanne Knight, credentialed as a Job and Career Transition Coach, is a career and business coach based in Boston, MA. Her passion lies in helping people achieve their professional dreams. With a background that spans over 20 years as a Human Resources leader and executive, she has coached hundreds of individuals — recent grads, individual contributors, managers, and executives — and helped them develop and implement the strategies that have led to success in their careers, their businesses and their lives. Jeanne is an active member of the Career Masters Institute, the National Resume Writers Association, the Career Counselors Consortium, and the Graduate School of Coaching. Her resumes will appear in two upcoming books, Expert Resumes for Healthcare Professionals and Gallery of Best Resumes, 3rd Edition. She can be contacted through her Website.
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