What Do Employers Want?
Before you apply for a position, put yourself in the employer’s shoes.
Why are they wanting to employ someone for this job?
It might be that they want to expand the business, or they are replacing someone who has left. It may not be possible to answer these questions just from the ad, though sometimes it is. In any case, you should consider the issues because it may help to plan and frame your cover letter and résumé.
Alignment is Key
Alignment is a term that we use to describe our main goal, to align the needs and culture of an employer or employment role with the talent and personality of the candidate.
The better these elements are aligned the more likely that:
- The employer will benefit by having a skilled employee that fits into the culture of their company,
- The candidate will have found a new position that will help with their own growth, both professionally and personally.
It is of course impossible to know exactly what the employer’s key areas of alignment are, but the advertisment is likely to provide a guide. The following short list will help target the issues that may be important for many employers.
Some jobs require a very specific set of qualifications, for example you can’t work as a doctor without a medical degree and current registration. Others require a more general set of qualifications. For example, a position might require an undergraduate degree that demonstrates that the candidate has the ability to think critically, or has a basic understanding of science and so on. Of course there are some positions that don’t require any qualifications at all; these positions might focus more heavily on your past experience.
Skills can relate to qualifications but it is much broader than that, regardless of qualifications, people often do different jobs using and developing skills that are beyond the usual limits of their qualifications. In reality the skills are more important than the qualification because the employer will have a set of skills that he or she needs someone to do in the workplace. The skills of the candidate will need to be aligned to the needs of the employer.
Understanding the skills required by the employer will help to determine whether you are well aligned for the job and how to craft your cover letter and resume.
Experience in a type of position is often described in the ad. It makes sense that some roles will definitely require someone with experience to be able to step into a role and work effectively from the outset. However, many employers are able to look past this requirement especially if it is a position where there is time to let the candidate grow into the role. If, based on the candidate’s prior experience, there is evidence that the candidate has been developing and would be capable of growing into the position, the employer might be more inclined to try the less experienced candidate.
Personality and Coping Style
An important aspect of alignment relates to personality style, anxiety and what is often termed emotional intelligence. Increasingly employers are considering these aspects of a candidates personal qualities because of the growing evidence that having people with higher levels of emotional intelligence in the workforce improves the productivity.
In summary, when you consider applying for a position, look for the various elements of alignment. You will get clues from the advertisement but there are general elements of alignment that you should examine. You can then use this to craft your cover letter, resume and interview preparation.
Dr Schultz spent 22 years working in psychiatry and then went on to qualify as a lawyer. He has spent 34 years helping people solve problems and the unique combination of medicine, psychiatry, law and mediation provides a unique academic and practical approach to life's challenges.