Whether the most enticing interview opportunity is coming up soon or you are seeking assistance in your search for that dream job, there are some very important things you must know — and be able to articulate in an assured and positive manner — about yourself.
The questions in this article broadly echo the type of information you will likely be asked by career coaches, resume writers and job interviewers.
Carefully thinking through your responses and putting them in writing will not only help you solidify your goals, but will also provide you with a rehearsal script from which you can prepare for any type of interview.
For every role you’ve held, from homemaker to corporate executive, you should be prepared to describe yourself, your role and your achievements clearly, concisely and honestly. In every situation there are nuggets of benefits, insights and successes. The challenge is to recall them and describe them in the most favourable light possible.
Your total comprehension of the five sections below, your ability to construct upbeat and honest answers, and your smooth delivery of the responses will be your key marketing strategies.
1. Tell us about yourself.
This is perhaps the toughest of all questions and the one that is most important if you are going to have a strategically written resume, or if you hope to position yourself as a top contender for a position. It’s also one of the first areas to which career coaches will direct you.
What makes it difficult is that, for most of us, it’s tough to brag. We’ve been brought up to be humble when talking about ourselves. Now is not the time to be shy! Are you friendly and outgoing? Easy to talk to? Precise, detailed and organized? What is it about you that sets you apart from others? Consider the positive features you see in people that you admire. Chances are, the things you like and respect in others are the very ones you possess.
2.Why are you interested in this role?
If you find yourself writing “to make more money,” “hate my old job,” or “want better hours,” you are missing a key point. Instead, reflect upon the challenges you dream of taking on in the new role. What things would you love to be able to do?
Now comes the tough part. The answers you give must reflect what you can offer that will meet and exceed the needs of the role you are targeting! If potential employers only hear “I, I, I” and a laundry list of what you are looking for, you will be seen as self-serving. Whether in writing or in person, your response has to demonstrate a genuine interest in the position and a belief that you are the best person to fill it.
3. What would your current and past managers say about you?
Whether you are feeling on top of the world, or are disheartened at the moment, the exercise of reflecting on the many good impressions you have made over time can be a most reaffirming one.
How have your bosses described you? When you were praised or acknowledged even in the smallest of ways, what had you done that got that reaction? Record some of the good things that were mentioned both informally and in writing.
4. How would you peers or customers describe you?
This is similar to point three, although it may be harder to pinpoint. When managers put positive remarks in a performance evaluation, you have something to relate to but co-workers and clients are less likely to have written flattering notes to say how much your actions were appreciated.
The strategy for this response is to recall the really good times and those days when you felt very upbeat and pleased with yourself. What was your performance and attitude like when you knew your presence on the team really mattered? What are some things people have said that helped you feel valued and appreciated?
5. List 10 accomplishments of which you are very proud.
Yes, that number is, indeed, 10. There may be three that come to you right away … such as the way you intervened the other day when two people appeared to be on the verge of fisticuffs or maybe it was how your suggestion saved the company $10,000.
Jot down a simple list at first. Flesh the points out later with measurable descriptions that show what was significant, how you managed to do what you did, and any savings or cost avoidance that may have resulted.
Time to review!
When all five steps have been completed, review your most recent resume, job evaluation or job description.
(Hints: If you are a new graduate, get out your latest report card and look through your course descriptions. Should you be someone returning to the workforce from a lengthy absence, contemplate the unpaid work and responsibilities you’ve had or the volunteer work you have done, and reread thank-you notes, certificates of achievement and similar acknowledgements.)
Now, go back through the five questions. You’ll be surprised at how much more you can add!
Remember, this exercise is just one of many approaches you can take in targeting your dream job.
Whatever your preferred route to career success, you don’t have to do it alone! There is a wide range of career professionals who can help you with this very important investment in your future.