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Job search

Job search: Your interviewer can’t read your mind

Once I gave feedback to a candidate, which I don’t often do, who was a close second to being my hiring choice. When I finished, they said, “But I have extensive experience giving presentations using PowerPoint. While at while at XYZ Inc. I gave townhalls, providing an overview of the company’s last quarter.”

“You never mentioned this,” I replied. “I asked you to walk me through your responsibilities.”

There was silence. Then the candidate said, “I assumed because I ran a large department, you’d imagine I’d have been conducting meetings with my staff.”

Never assume!

Assuming is a mistake I often see job seekers make. (Other mistakes: Not searching for your tribe, not being self-aware and not asking questions.)

An interview is a sales meeting. It’s your opportunity to connect the dots between your skills and experience and the job opportunity. It’s your job, not your interviewer’s, to sell yourself as a “fit” for the job and the company. Your interviewer can’t read your mind as to why you think you’re the perfect candidate. Nor is it their responsibility to make correlations between your background and the job. The reasons you believe you’re the ideal candidate may be valid; however, you need to articulate to your interviewer your reasons.

It’s entirely on you to demonstrate how your skills and experience are cross-functional and that you’re a “fit.” Here are two ways to ensure your interviewer will thoroughly understand your skills and experience — and hopefully see you as a fit.

• 30-60-90-120 Day Plan.

A 30-60-90-120 Day Plan is a document that conveys your intentions for the first 6 months on the job. (READ: How you plan to hit the ground running.) I guarantee your plan of action will positively impact your interviewer, which makes me wonder why more candidates don’t create such a plan.

You create a plan of action by listing in chronological order what your high-level priorities and actionable goals will be. Make sure you cover all the requirements mentioned in the job description, along with mentioning the metrics you’ll use to measure progress and success.

I recall the first time a candidate gave me a plan of action. (I’ve only received a handful since.) As I read through it, I asked clarifying questions, which led to my hiring the person. The candidate literally showed me what they were thinking. More importantly, they demonstrated they’re proactive and able to self-manage; both are a huge plus with me.

An employee is an investment that needs to generate a return. (I know this truism is distasteful.) Showing how you plan to quickly generate some return on your salary will give you a competitive advantage. Identify, and clearly communicate, a few ways you can contribute in your first 120 days and you’ll make your interviewer’s “purchase” decision much easier.

• Summary of your skills, experience, and accomplishments.

In industries such as advertising, graphics design, photography, it’s customary to show prospective clients and employers a portfolio of your work. A portfolio shows what you’re capable of — your work speaks for itself. When I seek new publications, I send clips of my writing; thus, fingers-crossed, my published writing hopefully sells my writing skills.

My wife came up with the idea of using the “portfolio technique.” When interviewing (She’s an inside sales professional.), she brings a list of her accomplishments and skills related to the job she’s interviewing for. Her success rate is impressive!

A summary document isn’t a rehash of your resume or LinkedIn profile. Instead, it offers additional details of your skills and experiences that are directly relevant to the job. (Your resume is just two pages, right?) It wasn’t unusual for my wife’s interviewer to ignore her resume and focus on her summary document.

The goal of this document is to not leave any stone unturned with your interviewer when it comes to your skills and experience. Suppose the job candidate I mentioned at the beginning of this column had given me a summary document that pointed out her extensive experience with facilitating presentations using PowerPoint?

When interviewing, don’t leave to chance, forgetting to mention something pertinent — something that could sway the hiring decision in your favour. As well, don’t assume your interviewer will “get you,” “presume your capabilities,” or “believe you’re a team player.”

TIP: Don’t just hand the documents mentioned above to your interviewer. You want to walk them through your plan or summary. “I’ve taken the liberty of creating a 120-day plan. May I walk you through it?”

Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers advice on searching for a job. Send him your questions at artoffindingwork@gmail.com.