Class of 2016 college graduates at the bachelor’s degree level are projected to total 1,861,000 according to The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). If you are a new college grad, that represents a lot of job competition.
The good news: not all of those graduates will be seeking the same kind of job as you.
The bad news: enough of them will be vying with you for the same jobs and at the same companies and organizations to represent a potential obstacle to getting the job you really want.
The scenario: most of you will likely be asked the question, “Why should I hire you?” at some point in the interview process. What will you say to differentiate yourself from your competition?
Overcome Three Hurdles
Your strategy for a strong response to the ‘Why should I hire you?’ question centers around clearing the three knock-out hurdles to getting hired for the job you most desire. These hurdles allow hiring managers, human resources staff, and recruiters to ‘screen out’ candidates efficiently (although not necessarily effectively). The number of job applicants (at all levels) is huge, and their available time to process those applicants is limited.
First Hurdle: Minimum Requirements
Job postings typically include specified job duties and job requirements. Meeting all the requirements will allow you to progress to the next hurdle, provided you show evidence in your resume that you have attained those requirements and have responded to the job posting correctly and in a timely fashion (in case there is a cutoff for the number of applicants accepted).
For new grads, requirements would likely include a Bachelor’s Degree with minimal (0-2 years) of experience. Most of your competition will be able to check off these same requirements as you. Meeting the minimum requirements simply gets you ‘in the game’.
Can you proceed without having all the requirements? Sure, that can happen, but it necessitates special ‘end-run’ strategies (to be discussed in a future post).
Second Hurdle: Accomplishments
Simply reciting the litany of your skills and part-time jobs is not sufficient. Other college graduates will speak about having the same skills and will also have held part-time jobs.
Surpass your competition: show how the skills and knowledge you gained during your academic years, as well as any work experience you had (part-time or full-time), volunteer activities, sports activities, and leadership activities culminated in accomplishments. This will enable you to clear the second hurdle.
Accomplishments can be the end results of your skills and academic learning (e.g., GPA, Honor Society, Dean’s List), activities (e.g., leading a record-breaking sorority/fraternity membership drive), and jobs (e.g., 100% attendance at all part-time jobs and academic classes for your entire college career).
Third Hurdle: Personal Brand and Brand Value
This is the final, and most difficult, hurdle to overcome. Why? Not because you do not have a personal brand or brand value. You most assuredly do have both. The problem is that you are likely not aware of your personal brand and brand value, and most definitely are not equipped to talk about them in a convincing way.
Your personal brand addresses how you are uniquely different from your competition. It is the HOW you do what you do (personal attributes, personal strengths) that provides clues to the prospective employer about whether you will be a ‘best-fit’ with their company culture. Brand value is the ultimate reason – the WHY an employer should hire you – because of the value and impact can you bring to the company or organization.
Are you ready to make the most persuasive case possible for yourself? Do you want to outshine your competition? Clear this hurdle and you will position yourself as a must-have candidate.
Even if you are not asked, ‘Why should I hire you?’ in a job interview, you still need to overcome all three hurdles. Does this take some work and preparation on your part? Of course. But what is the alternative? Perhaps spending a lot more time in job search mode or settling for a ‘so-so’ job. Are those viable options for you and your career future?