When I first meet clients, they often present themselves in terms of what they lack: “I don’t have a college degree.” “I just graduated, so I don’t really have experience.” “I don’t know how to use Excel.”
My answer is simple: Sell what you have. Market your strengths. When we think in positive terms, we are able to present ourselves with confidence. The language we use is stronger and more convincing. Most importantly, we are giving employers good reasons to make a job offer. I’m not saying that we should ignore gaps in our resumes and careers. If an employer needs something we don’t have, we need to be able to offer some alternative selling point. Be ready when an employer brings up what you don’t have. Show why what you have is more important than what you lack.
I met a client today who kept finding reasons why no company will want to hire him. He had an 8 month gap between his two most recent jobs. One of his former employer has a “do not rehire” policy, which might make some employers think he did something wrong. These are legitimate concerns, but they do not help my client find a job. I asked him to think about the other side of the coin: Why would an employer want to hire you?
From this perspective, my client has a lot to offer. First, he has a proven record of reliability and performance. His duties have included management and training, which are required skills in the positions he is seeking. Finally, he is a fluent Spanish speaker in an industry where that language is vital. All in all, this client’s strengths strongly outweigh his weaknesses.
My advice to any job seeker is to put your strengths before your weaknesses. I’m not saying that every job seeker needs to be prepared to answer tough questions at a job interview. It is more important to know and sell positive reasons why you should be hired. Know your strengths, and be able to sell them.
I found this quotation from blogger Pia Savage in the March/April issue of Psychology Today:
“Do what you love, but make sure you have the ability. Identify your strengths and make them work for you.”