“What do you want to be when you grow up?” ~ Everyone
Even before we could probably construct full sentences, we’ve been asked what we want to do and want to be when we grow up. Aside from the lucky few, most of us have been pondering this question our entire lives. How many of us have dreamt of being an Astronaut, a Zoologist, a Firefighter, a Doctor or maybe even a Unicorn? And as much as our 5-year old self had impractical dreams about our future, each one of us still dreams about Passion, Purpose and what we want to do. It might be daunting to think about this as one big question but you can actually break it down into a process.
Navigating your career can be a super confusing process. A client once described his job hunt as being lost and overwhelmed in a dark, never-ending maze. I get it, we’ve all been there. My goal is not only to provide you with an actionable step-by-step exploration but also to guide and help you through it all. This Guidebook is meant to shine light through the whole process and demystify what it really takes not only to get the job that you want, but how to cultivate a meaningful career.
In my 15+ years experience working, recruiting and coaching in 5 continents, I've realized that there are just a just a couple of simple things to keep in mind. These, if done effectively, can really make a difference in your career. So, what do employers around the world, across any industry, for pretty much any role you apply for want to know? It all boils down to 2 important questions...
The Two Most important Questions:
1. Can you get the job done?
Do you have the previous experience, education, skills, and knowledge to get the job done? If you don't, do you have the passion, interest, desire and ability to learn how to do it? Essentially, the company has a need/problem. Are you going to be the one to solve it? In short, how can you prove and demonstrate that you have what it takes to get the job done?
Remember, when there is a job vacancy, it generally means that the organization has a problem or challenge that needs a solution. Are you the person who can solve those issues and challenges?
There are many ways to answer this question:
Work Experience: The best and easiest way to answer is actual Work Experience. “YES, I can get the job done because I’ve done this role for another company.” This one is the easiest way to answer the question. If you can demonstrate that you’ve already done the role for another company, then the idea is that if you achieved success for some other company, then you’ll be able to replicate, improve on, and provide the same success for the new company you’re applying to.
Volunteer Experience: “YES, I can do the job because I’ve done it in a volunteering capacity. I may not have been paid for it... but yes, I know what is expected and what it entails because I have done it”. Volunteering in the area allows you to be able to show that you have experience in that role. It demonstrates that you have an understanding of what it would take to get the job done.
Independent or Passion Projects: “YES, I can do the job. I’m so passionate about it that in my spare time I utilize those skills. In fact, you can check out some of my projects on my personal website/blog, etc that shows my commitment and knowledge in this area.” These types of projects/independent work done on a specific area or skillset is a great way to show how engaged you are. It’s a very tangible proof that you are truly interested and committed to that particular topic and role/industry.
Education/School: “YES, I can do the job because I studied it”. While you are properly and powerfully armed with the theoretical frameworks, most employers will be wanting to see how you can translate that into professional success. Although studying it is a way of showing your capability to do the job, the reality is that you still have to get the experience to put it into daily or business practice.
If you can have a combination of any or all of the 4 ways, then you have a stronger chance of getting an interview and eventually landing the job! Now you may be thinking, but what if I’m changing careers or industries or if I'm a new grad and I don't have a lot of experience - How do I still answer this question? What you need to focus on is the value you’ve had to date. There are definitely things that you've done in some aspect of your life that demonstrates you have the ability to be a great employee for this particular role and organization. How are you going to showcase your passion and your abilities? Perhaps you were the MVP of your sports league or you volunteered for your children’s Parent Teachers Association. Whatever those examples are, you need to find those successes that demonstrate you have the ability to get the job done. It is your ability to connect your transferable skills as a valuable trait and characteristic that helps your ability to answer this question effectively.
2. Do people want to work with you? (also known as Soft Skills)
If you're part of a team, what are you like as a team member? If you're going to be a manager, what's your leadership style? If you're going to be a front liner, what are your customer service and communication skills like? The company is assessing is whether you are going to be a great cultural and values fit. Will you be the type of person that will add value to the organization? How will you demonstrate that you are going to be the kind of person they might want to work with?
Soft skills, also known as interpersonal skills, are also now referred to as Human Skills. It is a broad term that describes the characteristics of being able to work, get along, and collaborate with others. Regardless of what it’s called, it is extremely crucial for Career Success. With all the technological disruptions and chances in the workplace, it is super important to cultivate your ability to connect and work with others. While your technical skills are what may get your foot in the door, your soft skills open these doors and allow you to step in. How you work, lead, inspire, problem solve, delegate, etc. — are all what differentiate us from others.
It’s such an important question that according to a survey LinkedIn did in 2018, 57% of leaders say that soft skills are more important than hard skills! We are now living in a world where your EQ — your Emotional Intelligence — will get you hired more than your IQ! How you interact with people is a big part of how successful you will become in your career. As they say, no (wo)man is an island. We are part of a larger interconnected social web. In general, people like to hire peoplethat they think they will enjoy working with. We prefer doing business with people we connect with. Beyond how knowledgeable people are, we choose to surround ourselves with people that we like. Would they want to spend 40 hours (or potentially more) a week with you? All things being equal, your soft skills are ultimately what gets you hired and promoted.
Ta da! That’s it! Knowing and understanding that ALL employers across all industries only want to know these 2 things is the SECRET to not only how you get a job effectively but also how to create an amazing career. If you think about every single interview question you’ve ever been asked, you can pretty much boil it down to these 2 questions. We often complicate things but in reality, it can be quite simple.
How you continuously improve and answer these 2 questions, is how you build and grow your Career Currency and become a #CareerUnicorn!