I have been talking to recruiters and employers for the majority of my career. That is my whole job really. I call an employer and ask them what jobs they are hiring for and if they would like to interview my candidates. At some point during every conversation, I will ask something like, “Besides the technical abilities, what sort of things are you looking for in a candidate?”
I get the same answer every time. “Oh you know, someone who would make a strong candidate”
Then I’ll ask, “So what makes someone a strong candidate?”
Then I usually get a long pause followed by “That’s a good question…”
I cannot really blame the recruiter too much. They spend a lot of time figuring out what technical skills are needed for the job that they do not get the opportunity to really think about the soft skills. After ten years of listening to “Uhmms”, “Ahhs” and “That’s a good question”, the top four things that I usually hear are:
Strong candidates are those people who can motivate others to make sure the job gets done.
Can you explain yourself? Can you present your ideas in a way that is engaging and easy to understand
Can you solve a problem? If I were to give you a bunch of data, could you make something useful and informative out of it?
People with a strong customer focus are always in high demand regardless of the business activity involved.
So what does all this mean for you? If these are the four things employers want, what is the best way to demonstrate this on a resume or cover letter?
I have to admit, I struggled with this for a long time as well. It is difficult to coach some on how to be “Leadershipish” or to be more skillful with the analytics. Fortunately, for you, I have had years and years to think about it and the truth is, most employers are using these four skills to identify people who can answer these two questions.
- Can you do the work?
- Can you be put in front of the client?
It all comes down to this. Employers will ask you a bunch of questions about the four skills listed above, but it all comes to these two questions. Interviewers around the world are trying to figure out can you do what we need you to do and will you make us look good to the employer.
Always keep these two questions in mind when answering questions about leadership, communication, problem solving or customer service. If you can assure the interviewer or employer that you know what you are doing and can make the customer happy, then you have the makings of a great career ahead of you.