The Interesting thing about the recruiting process is that if you read job postings, you’d think that employers are strictly looking for people with very specific types of experience. That’s all you can see in a job post; a number of bullet points with essential requirements like years of experience with certain tools and obscure industry certifications.Once you get to a job interview though, the whole picture changes. You realize that employers are looking for qualities in their prospective hires that are never listed in the job advertisement. They want to meet people who are self-directed and responsible. At the interview, you have the opportunity to create this impression.

How do you do that?

You bring out those qualities through your answers to the job-interview questions and also, through the questions you ask your interviewer(s).The sculpture you narrate of yourself at a job interview will bring out your sterling qualities; and you don’t have to really go on and on and on about your best traits. They will shine through if you let them!

I can see you wondering, “These days even getting an opportunity for an interview is a problem”. Yes, I feel you. It’s a tough time in the job market, with many firms struggling and laying off instead of hiring; especially as a result of the effect of COVID 19 pandemic. Below are few trajectories that have enabled me to traverse the market easily and timely before and during this tough time:

  • Which sectors are hiring?

Identify which sectors are presenting a growing pool for job search and marketability. Look at how well your skillset fit into these sectors and what aspects of your personality and strengths are a fit as well as how you can develop your skills further.

  • Know what you want as a career

Employers are looking for ‘self-motivated’ and ‘self – aware’ employees, and here’s what that means. They want people who know what they want and are willing to work for it. Great managers want to hire people with goals. Be that person.

  • Can you point to your successes at work or elsewhere?

When someone asks you “Can you tell me a story about a time when you felt an achiever or in a fix?” what stories from your past spring to mind? You’ve got to be able to talk about your successes. You don’t have to have impressed or won an award. You can tell simple stories about saving the day at work or in a volunteer situation or even at home.

  • Know your strengths

Employers are looking for people who know what they’re good at. Instead of saying “I’m really good at Excel,” you can say “I love Excel — and I love to teach other people the finer points of using Excel, like creating nested reports and macros.” Learn the language of the employers needs and communicate them (the solution you are) effectively.

  • Think Independently

There are certain employers who don’t want to hire independent thinkers, but you don’t have to waste away working for someone like that! Strong employers want to hire people who have their own ideas. In every job interview, take the opportunity to share an opinion, rather than just answering the questions.

  • Become a problem-solver

Develop the skill set of a problem solver. Pay attention, research, be creative to the needs of employers, offer lasting solutions and become an asset; don’t just look to earn a salary. Instead, look at how you can increase your importance in achieving a company’s vision by bringing great solutions.

  • Work well in a team

Nearly every manager will tell you that teamwork is a critical attribute for anybody. It is therefore important to learn how to be a team player and learn how to build confidence in teammates. This will allow you, not only to be a good team – player but also a good manager and build trust and confidence in many work spheres.

My parting shot to you is this: venture outside your comfort zone in your search. View every person you meet as a door that may lead you to a new opportunity. Show up early. Think of yourself as a lifelong learner. Every year, deeply consider your career path. Search for the value in feedback or criticism.

By Stella Chelangat Mutai
Geospatial Consultant – United Nations, World Food Programme.