By Amy Feind Reeves
Good entry-level jobs are scarce, and extremely competitive when they become available.
In this economy, you're not only competing with other new grads, but also with grads from previous years that are still looking for a place to land.
What can you do to make your candidacy stand out?
All job descriptions objectively state the skills required for a role. Your job in preparing for the interview is to provide evidence that you have those skills based on your experience to date. Pretty straightforward, right?
But what if there are skills that are required but are not stated? If you could prove you have those skills you could potentially create a competitive advantage over other candidates.
There are two skills that are considered essential by all employers for all roles, but they don't always make it to the job description. Those skills are:
Whether you have an interview coming up to be a financial advisor, nurse, teacher, event planner, or anything in between, rest assured that your attractiveness as a candidate is going to be enhanced significantly if you can provide evidence that you have these two skills.
Regardless of the job or the employer, these skills are always in demand:
1. A keen eye for detail is critical for all employers because -- no matter how good a manager is at paying attention to detail -- s/he can always use an extra brain at work to make sure that there are no typos or missed details in the work product (e.g. client presentation, treatment plan, syllabus or schedule of events) or oversights when implementing plans (e.g.missing WiFi connection, not enough electrical outlets, no vegetarian meal options).
Everyone has had the experience of getting caught in an oversight, be it large or small. No one wants the experience again. If you can provide evidence that you will serve as an additional line of defense against any of those things happening, you will likely develop an edge over other candidates.
2. The ability to juggle multiple and often competing priorities is part of everyone's work life (and most people's home life).
An admin may have three bosses who all need their expense reports processed by the end of the day. An engineer may need to generate a three- dimensional model by 3:00 pm, when a budget draft and testing plan on another project are also due.
Juggling multiple priorities at once is a skill that everyone needs to develop at some point. Again, candidates who can demonstrate they already have this skill are going to have an edge.
As you prepare for your interview, make sure you prepare at least one story that provides evidence you possess these skills. It doesn't matter if your story comes from experience as an intern, student, camp counselor or parking valet.
What does matter is that you can tell a simple, cogent story about a time when you used these skills to perform well in a pressured situation. For example:
It doesn't matter how big the impact of the result. What does matter is that your interviewer knows you have these skills and are keen to use them.
You can use your story when answering a direct question, such as
You can also simply assert it as something you would like your interviewer to know.
The trick is creating a transition, such as "I can tell you about a time I really enjoyed being put on the spot" or "Here's why I know I would enjoy the demands of this role."
Don't be shy -- your interviewer will appreciate your confidence and enthusiasm. Clearly communicating your attention to detail and experience and ability juggling multiple deadlines will impress the interviewer and put you ahead of the other candidates.
Amy Feind Reeves is the Founder and CEO of JobCoachAmy, where she leverages her experience of over 25 years as a senior executive and hiring manager to help new professionals find and keep jobs that make them happy. Her corporate practice focuses on managing millennials. Amy has enjoyed successful careers as a commercial banker, global management consultant, entrepreneur, corporate executive, and non-profit executive. Amy graduated cum laude from Wellesley College and earned an MBA at the Tuck School of Dartmouth College.