Getting a job takes skills. We all know that. No matter the position you are pursuing, there are certain qualifications that make it possible for you to be hired and to be successful.
Throughout our youth, we’re constantly reminded that education is the key, specifically formal education. We’re expected to complete high school then head to college and get a degree, then to pursue a job right away.
But in an ever-tighter job market where qualifications run deep, it can take much more than just that degree to get the career that you are after. Hiring officials today are looking for something else, something to make you stand out from the endless stack of applications they are staring at every morning.
What are they looking for? There are a number of things you should be able to point out that distinguish you from the also-rans for a position.
We have a bit of an education bias in this country. We sometimes assign value exclusively to formal education from a traditional institution of higher learning, whether it be public or private, and we don’t even investigate other sources of education. One need only to look at most job applications to see that there is little or no space to enter such credentials.
Find a place for it. Applicants who have completed courses through Go Lean Six Sigma are the people who are quickly moving to the front of the line in HR offices. Managers see that these applicants have realized the importance of workplace skills beyond simply knowledge of facts, and they are assigning greater value to the applications that reflect that.
After formal education and specific skills for the workplace, hiring officials want to see the intangibles. They want to know that you can handle the demands of the workplace. If you’re just entering the workforce, they want to see that you are willing to learn. If you’ve worked previously, they want to know that you can un-learn and re-learn and that you will strike the right balance between showing your experience and being willing to adapt.
Most of these things are in your nature, but you can foster them if you can honestly assess yourself and acknowledge that you should make changes. Other times, you may just need to seek a different type of position that is a good match for the way you work.
Somewhere beyond the qualifications spelled out on an application and the things that are written between the lines are the skills that, for lack of a better phrase, couldn’t hurt.
There are many examples of these. Medical training could be one. Your employer might not have even considered the value of having a person qualified in first aid and CPR, but if you play your cards right in the interview, you can slide it into the conversation in a way that’s a revelation to the interviewers.
It could also be a certification as an electrician or possession of a commercial driver’s license. In an economy where multitasking is king and downsizing is routine, it can be very helpful to be a sort of Swiss army knife for your employer, qualified to jump into a variety of roles that aren’t explicitly part of your job.
Getting a great job is all about setting yourself apart from the other applicants. It isn’t enough simply to check off the mandated qualifications and assume you’re in good shape. Everyone else is doing that too. You need those extra things, whether formally or informally learned, that will set you apart from the rest of the field.