If you’re in a job search, you should have figured out what you want. You may have taken some assessments; brainstormed and compiled a list of skills. You’re on the right track. There is, though, an often-skipped step that can bring even greater clarity and success regarding your end goal.
Identify the gaps.
Employers look for the best fit, not one who might fit. You probably know that it serves you well as a candidate to know whether your skills are a match, and to communicate this effectively.
Once you understand the gaps (or perceived gaps), you’ll know what you must do to overcome the potential barriers you may face in your search. My client, Mary, came to me after she had a tough lesson in this. She lost a job to someone she knew – someone less qualified than she. The difference? Her competition had been prepared to diffuse any perceptions or objections. She had not.
If you put in some roll-up-your-sleeves time to do a reality check on your potential gaps, then you can then show they are not deal-breakers. You can then draw attention back to what’s right about you for the job. You can then shout, “I’m your person! Hire me, and you won’t be sorry!”
Here are 4 common gap areas to bridge:
Title. There’s often a language issue: “programmer analyst” versus “application architect,” “Manager” versus “Director.” Make sure you speak the employer’s language.
Compensation. The more closely you set your salary requirements, the better chance you’ll have getting and sailing through interviews. If you ask for $18K more than the market rate just because you want it, you’ll likely get cut out of the process. If you ask for $18K less than you are worth, you’ll likely get it. You can avoid this by setting a three-figure range of your bottom, comfortable and on-a-cloud salary.
Skills. Are you truly lacking the skills for the job, or is it a distinction in company jargon? For example, if a healthcare employer wants EPIC systems knowledge that you don’t have, what might you have in your comparable toolkit? If you’re an ace using Cerner and MEDITECH, odds are, you’re just fine.
Education. You might have to clarify translation with the employer. Ask if the education requirement is a “nice to have” or a “must have.” Sometimes, a hiring manager can bypass, and sometimes it’s mandatory. Doesn’t it make sense to find out before you invest your time in the application process?
Next time you have a job posting, do this exercise.
- What are the required skills, experiences or personal traits?
- Do you have them?
- If yes, write them down.
- If no, write down anything comparable.
Understanding these gaps will drive everything in your search, from where you set your expectations, to how you present yourself, to how you negotiate for what you want.
Gaps can be filled in. Knowledge is power.