“A company doesn’t care what you want. They want to know how you can meet their needs.” –– Lisa Rangel, founder of Chameleon Resumes
Having a realistic perspective on the job market, especially about why a company posts a vacancy, is vital to success in finding a job. An unrealistic perspective can lead to frustration–– lots of applications, but no job offers.
Let’s begin with two basic questions and answers.
The first question is, why does an employer advertise a vacancy? An employer advertises a job opening because the employer has a mission to accomplish and needs someone to help accomplish it.
The second question: why do you, job seeker, want to fill that vacancy?Possible answers could vary; maybe you want to earn additional income, use newfound skills, or advance your career.
If your qualifications closely match the employer’s needs, the employer may be interested in speaking with you and possibly in hiring you–– but, to be blunt, the employer usually does not care why you want that job.
Below are three typical mistakes by job seekers who are, to be delicate, less than fully qualified for a position and an employer’s likely response to those rationales. For the purposes of the example, this job seeker is applying for a position in the field of gerontology.
What you say: “I have a lot of skills, and I’m sure you can find a role for me in your company.”
What the employer thinks: If you haven’t made the effort to identify how you can help me fulfill my mission, please don’t expect me to take time from my busy schedule to figure it out.
What you say: “I’ve always been interested in gerontology.”
What the employer thinks: Your interest in gerontology is admirable, but I see little evidence in your resume that you are well qualified to work in the field, and I want to hire the best-qualified person available.
What you say: “I don’t know much about gerontology, but I’m a quick study.”
What the employer thinks: Why would I pay you to learn about gerontology when there are other candidates who already know about it?
In short, when you make your case to an employer, always remember: It’s not about you.
(For further reading, check out “Work Advice: No, temp agencies do not exist to find you a job” by Karla Miller for The Washington Post, January 19, 2017.)
David Marwick is KempMillJobAssist’s Workshop Coordinator. He studied economics at George Washington University and worked as an economist for George Washington University and the U.S. Government Accountability Office.