Tag Archives: employability

Why did you apply for this job? (II)

It might look like a simple question, but only a few of the candidates can answer it in an appropriate manner. Thus this question is not usually addressed in this form; the recruiter needs to have it answered and, needless to say, the answer has a significant impact on the final result of your interview.

Hopefully, I will not disappoint you by saying that “because I need a job” or “because I need money” is not the best answer you could give. On contrary, these may be in the top of the worst answers.

When you apply for a job we may assume that:

  1. You consider you are suitable for that job
  2. You are interested in that job

Consequently, the one question mentioned in the title can be translated in two more specific questions:

  • How would you relate your key competencies to this position?
  • What motivates you to apply for this job/company/ industry?

In order to be prepared to answer, firstly perform a self assessment. This helps you to identify your strengths and apply for jobs where those will be best valued. Read carefully the job ad and apply only when you meet the mandatory requirements and you consider your strengths relevant for that job.

Secondly, conduct a brief research on the company you are applying for and identify what motivates your interest. It could be the industry, the company’s position on the market, its values, quality of services, strategy and so on. Find out what would be that thing that could make you choose that job in that  company from another job in another company.

Relate these findings with your self assessment results and build strong arguments to support your interest. Try to avoid clichés. It’s highly probable we heard them before. All we want to know it is that you did your research and analyzed the findings from your own perspective. As I already mentioned in a previous post: if one can’t spend some time to prepare for an interview then he/she does not deserve the job.

Please note that having these questions answered not only helps you during the interview, but it also can get you the interview. How? Find the answers before applying for a job and start building your cover letter around them.

Now, get ready to apply for the next job!

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Employability self-assessment

In my previous blog post I raised the issue of employability. Whether you are happy with your employer or you feel it’s high time for you to make a change in your career, I recommend you to evaluate and maintain it. Note that in tough economic times it’s crucial to adapt to them and stand out of the crowd.

In order to assess your employability you should proceed to analyze both the context and your particular situation.

The context:

Assuming that you are not a psychic and you accept that you can’t predict the future, I suggest you to try PEST analysis. This is a way of trying to understand and asses the most likely future developments and trends in your industry sector.

PEST analysis takes into consideration several factors that influence the current state and possible changes of your sector and workplace: political, economic, social, technological.  Understanding these factors can give you a clearer image of what is happening to your company and industry sector and, trough that, a clearer understanding of your situation in the workplace.

  • Political factors – Take into consideration issues such as: political stability, government’s policy on economy, changes in legislation, EU requirements that must be met during the next period, etc. The political arena has a powerful influence on businesses regulation and spending power of both other businesses and consumers.
  • Economic factors –Take into consideration: interest rates, exchange rates, inflation rates, economic growth. The impact these factors have on how businesses operate and make decisions can be easily seen trough the major changes caused by the current economic crisis.
  • Social trends – Include: career attitudes, age distribution, attitude towards the social services, financial system, consumer habits etc.
  • Technological factors – Can determine the minimum efficient productivity level and influence outsourcing decisions. Technology is vital for competitive advantage, and it’s a major driver of globalization.

After completing the analysis, try to answer some questions:

  • What changes have occurred or are likely to occur in your job function’s role?
  • What are the threats and opportunities you identified for your company/sector? How could these impact your job role?
  • What changes have occurred and what is the trend of the workforce market in your sector?
  • What are the actions you should take in order to be prepared for these changes?

Now that you have a clearer sense of what is happening around you, take a good look at yourself and your particular situation. In order to find out where you are and where you should be heading, try a SWOT analysis. This is a breakdown of your strengths and weaknesses combined with the opportunities and threats of your particular situation.

Strengths and weaknesses refer to your competencies (your inner qualities) whilst the threats and opportunities refer to the external environment in which you operate.

It’s high time for you to be completely honest with yourself.  Unless you openly and honestly appraise your own strengths and weaknesses and consider the situation you find yourself in, this analysis will be a waste of time.

Take some time to think and find solid arguments for everything you write in your SWOT. Think about more aspects of your life as a professional. E.g.: Ask yourself what are your strengths and weaknesses as: a coworker, a team member, a partner, a manager, a leader, a subordinate etc.

After you devised this, try to find trusted and qualified people to provide you with a feedback on it. Choose people who will give you an honest feedback and whose opinion you trust and value on those specific issues.

Answer yourself the next few questions and use the answers to build an action plan of your future development.

  • In which job role would your strengths be mostly valued? What would be the impact of your weaknesses?
  • Is the job that best fits you also the one that motivates you?
  • How many of your competencies identified as strengths are transferable to a new job?
  • What weaknesses mostly affect your current job?
  • What could you do to diminish your weaknesses?
  • What are you planning to do to make the most of the identified opportunities?
  • How could you transform the threats in opportunities for development?

Now that you have a better image of both your competencies and workforce market needs, you can also start building your personal brand.

Piece of advice: periodically update your PEST and SWOT in order to keep an accurate image on your employability and development.

LE: If you are intrerested in employability self- assesment and you want to know more about this, I recommend you to read: Teach Yourself Getting a Better Job by Roderic Ashley.

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You are employed, but are you employable?

Given the changes in the economy, technology, society, it is also necessary to change one’s mindset about jobs.

Mostly, but not only, because of the communism, our parents found themselves in a passive expectation of becoming an employee. They devoted a number of years to an employer, working a number of hours a day in exchange for a certain salary and a sense of security. Nevertheless, upon on ability, political views, hard work, that job could evolve through a promotion into a more financially rewarding one, but not necessarily a more enjoyable one.

Hence, this mindset prevented many to proceed to a career change after the communist regime was ended. Companies were restructured; thousands of people were laid off and found themselves in an impossibility of finding a job. One of the reasons was that they were completely unprepared for a job search, had few transferable skills, they were unaware of their strengths and weaknesses and of what a competitive workforce market needed.

Now (after almost 20 years since the revolution) we are facing again an economical crisis and many people are still unaware of what employability stands for. In those times, but mostly in this economical context, there must be much more active selling of the competencies, experiences and personal qualities one has to offer.

It’s high time for the focus to change from “job” to “career”. Jobs don’t come for granted. Therefore one should be always ready for a change and think about next steps to follow on his/her career path. To look on the bright side, we have the opportunity to take control and responsibility on our professional lives.

We live in a world where the essential qualities needed are (as characterized by William Bridges in his book Job Shift): employability (retaining your attractiveness to employers by displaying and developing those competencies valued by them), vendor mindedness (thinking at your employer as it was your client) and resiliency (finding your security from within, by knowing your strengths and weaknesses rather than being dependent to an external factor).

You may have a job now, but have you ever asked yourself what is the level of your employability skills?

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