There are five must-haves employers look for in a job candidate:
- Above-average oral and written communication skills.
- Critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
- A proven track record of achieving measurable results.
- Culture-fitting and likeable. (Likability trumps your skills and experience.)
- A positive, enthusiastic attitude.
If you check off these five, plus a few more (e.g., relevant hard skills, education, certifications, a clean online presence), you will have a shorter job search than most people do today.
While all five must-haves are important, savvy job seekers understand that employers hire to achieve results; therefore, they know number three, a proven track record of achieving measurable results, is what employers focus on the most.
Most job seekers:
Believe they will be hired based on their qualifications and experience.
Savvy job seekers:
Do not just show employers where they have been (their history), but where they can take them.
For a business to survive, its expenses must not exceed its revenues. Therefore, employers do not simply seek employees who will do a task; they seek candidates with the capability and proactive mindset to contribute to their success by generating revenue, creating savings, or creating efficiencies.
An employer’s biggest ongoing expense is their payroll. Savvy job seekers comprehend that earning a spot on an employer’s payroll requires convincing the employer they will earn their keep. Therefore, they convey via their resume, cover letter, LinkedIn profile and, especially during interviews, how hiring them will benefit the employer—why they will be worth their salary.
Your skills do not earn your keep. You earn your keep by using your skills to deliver tangible results that impact the company’s bottom line. A savvy job seeker grasps the fact that an employer wants a return for their salary, the employer investing in an employee, and is not offended by the fact employers look to profit from their employees.
Today’s workplace is no longer a place for passive observers. Employers want employees who contribute to the company and drive the company forward as opposed to just clocking in and out.
Examples of resumes/LinkedIn profile bullet points that show contribution to an employer’s success:
- Steered the company through a complicated re-organization, resulting in a 75% increase in profits with minimal employee turnover.
- Reduce the time it takes to process data by 50% with a new cloud data infrastructure, resulting in more timely insights.
- In Q1 2023, exceeded partner development sign-on goals by 20%.
- Wrote 400+ informative and beneficial articles, increasing organic website traffic by 21%.
The following are meaningless:
- Received 2 promotions, from co-management to director-level, in less than 12 months.
- Since June 2019, I have led the company’s social committee.
- Proficient with Word, Excel, and social media.
- I am an innovative, detail-oriented problem solver who thinks outside the box. (You are just stating your opinion.)
Mentioning your grades, hobbies, and places you have travelled to has no bearing on what value you can bring to an employer.
Employers are not concerned about your career, nor should they be; managing your career is your responsibility. Mentioning accolades, memberships, grades, supposed “proficiencies” and stating your opinions about yourself, rather than the results you have delivered, is a waste of valuable resume and LinkedIn real estate space. Unless the accolade demonstrates your proficiency at achieving results (e.g., Received the top salesman award at Mitch and Murray for four consecutive years.), consider not mentioning it. Employers hire results, not accolades, memberships and opinions.
As a job seeker, you need to focus solely on demonstrating your ability and willingness to contribute to the employer’s success. Evidence of results is something job seekers rarely bring to their interviews. Those who do, savvy job seekers, differentiate themselves from the candidates they are competing against.
Consider bringing to your next interview:
- Non-confidential productivity reports. “Since 2018, I have been the top 3 sales rep at Universal Exports” has much more credibility if you provide supporting documents. (Hiring managers hear exaggerations and outright lies daily; therefore, understandably, often they are skeptical about a candidate’s claims. Candidates who prove what they claim erode skepticism.)
- A 30-60-90 days plan. In your first three months, describe your top priorities, actionable goals, and the metric you will use to evaluate your progress.
- Samples of previous projects. Hand your interviewer a physical copy of a project you’ve worked on. Explain the significance of the project, the results you’ve earned and how it impacted the company.
- Identify opportunities. Identify opportunities for the company to increase revenues or save money, then write a proposal detailing how you will take advantage of these opportunities.
Unlike most job seekers, savvy job seekers communicate how they will either save money, make money, or at least create efficiencies for the company, which is the opposite of what most job seekers do. Most job seekers talk only about how great, which is an opinion, their skills, experience, and education are, believing it is the employer’s responsibility to connect the dots regarding the value of their background.
Today, the name of the game is not “whoever is most qualified gets the job;” it is “whoever can demonstrate their value to the company gets the job.”
Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers “unsweetened” job search advice. You can send Nick your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Employers prioritize communication skills, critical thinking, measurable results, likability, and a positive attitude.
- Savvy job seekers understand the emphasis on a track record of measurable achievements.
- Tangible results, not just skills, earn a spot on an employer’s payroll.
- Resumes should highlight specific contributions to company success, emphasizing quantifiable outcomes.
- In interviews, savvy job seekers bring evidence of results, such as productivity reports, plans, project samples, and revenue opportunities.