Tag Archives: qualifications

Job seekers must fully address employer concerns

Sanjit P., a banker from India, Paul M. a newly unemployed tool and die machinist, and Andrea S., a former accounting clerk, may not appear to have much in common. But all three are frustrated job seekers looking for employment in Southern Ontario and all face difficulties in the job market for what is essentially the same reason. Too often, prospective employer concerns about hiring them are significant barriers that never are addressed.

Address Employer Concerns

As I have mentioned in a previous post, all these worthy job applicants see is a total lack of response.

Morning after discouraging morning, they send cover letters and resumes to posted employment opportunities.

Evening after discouraging evening they wonder what they need to do differently.

In each of these (fictitious) stories of typical job seekers, one significant piece of information stands out to an employer like a red flashing light and sends the application to the trash.

Know the Precise Employer Concern

Sanjit worked as a banker for 15 years but it is hard to tell from his application exactly what his responsibilities might have been and he is applying for a much more junior position than a banker with an MBA and 15 years of Canadian experience would consider. The employer concerns are that he will not accept the work environment and more junior duties that go with entry-level employment opportunities and that he will need significant training to get up to speed in the job. He will not be able to “hit the ground running”. Continue reading

What Credentials on Microsoft Word Skills can you offer?

What evidence of your Microsoft Word skills could you offer in response to job interview questions?

“Pretty good, I guess” isn’t very precise, but without advance preparation, a mumbled vague response is the best you have.

You don’t even know exactly what advanced skill levels are for this particular interviewer and you don’t want to reveal your ignorance by asking. You don’t know exactly what they need you to be able to do. Very often, the interviewer doesn’t really know either! So they wait to see what you say and write that down and go on to the next question.

You are justifiably proud of your accomplishments and references and university degree. But wouldn’t it be beneficial to state very precisely what things you can do with Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint  Access, Publisher and Outlook?

What if you could say “I have all the Intermediate skills for Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook and basic skills for Access and Publisher. I have already sent you a PDF file that lists my Microsoft Office software skills in detail, along with a series of documents and projects that together are my “credential”. Continue reading

Prospective employers want you to communicate your qualifications clearly

If you submit 10, 20 or more job applications every week without response, you are not alone and it’s your job to figure out why.

Are you treating the job search as a numbers game, like telemarketing? If I just send more applications, sooner or later it is inevitable that I will rise to the top of the pile. Or do you believe those who say “nobody gets hired from online job postings”. If that was true, how long would employers continue to accept online submissions? Not very long.

magnifying glass

Communicate Your Skills Clearly

Not every opening that is posted online is filled from online applicants but some are. If you aren’t among the winning pllicants, it may have something to do with how you are applying, but you may be perplexed as to what to change.

Do you understand the hiring process from the perspective of an employer that receives thousands of applications? Often its a junior staff member who reduces the pile to a manageable number. It’s easier than you think. Just discard applications that don’t mention the key words related to the required qualifications. Then calls are made to conduct an initial screening interview or to schedule an interview. So what if that prospective employer called the top 20 applicants but your phone didn’t ring? And what if that happened 50 times every week? Continue reading

Do your job applications fall on deaf ears?

If you submit 10, 20 or more job applications weekly with no response, you are not alone.

Are you treating the job search as a numbers game, like telemarketing? “If I just send enough applications, it is inevitable that I will reach the top of the pile eventually.” Or do you believe those who say “nobody gets hired from online job postings”. If that was true, how long would employers continue to accept online submissions? Not very long! Someone is no longer unemployed. Why shouldn’t it be you?

Is Your Approach Working?

Is Your Approach Working?

Not every opening that is posted online is filled by an online applicant but some certainly are. If you aren’t hearing back, it probably has something to do with your qualification or how you are applying. But how can you know what to change? It may help to understand the hiring process from the employer’s perspective. When a position is posted, there may be thousands of applications. Often a junior staff member or a computer program screens on predetermined minimum qualifications. Now the pile is more manageable. Calls are then made for an initial screening interview by phone. So what if the prospective employer called the top 20 applicants but your phone didn’t ring? And what if that happened 50 times every week? No phone call, no interview, no job. Continue reading

Job interview questions on Microsoft Office skills

Job interview questions on Microsoft Office skills

Job interview questions on Microsoft Office skills

As I reviewed a resume recently with a young person in preparation for anticipated job interview questions, I encountered the following item in the qualifications section.

  • Advanced skills in Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Access

Given her limited work history, I knew prospective employers would doubt that her Microsoft Office skills were at the advanced level she claimed. I asked if she could prove advanced skills. Could she demonstrate those skills if requested during a job interview? Not only did she not have a way to prove that she had Advanced Microsoft Word skills, but she could not name one such skill. She was not prepared to handle what were highly predictable job interview questions in her line of work. Notice that I didn’t say she didn’t actually have advanced skills, but that she wasn’t ready to support her claims.

Exactly What Are Advanced Microsoft Word Skills Anyway?

Do you know what skills a prospective employer would expect if you claimed on your resume to have Advanced Microsoft Word Skills? How would you answer job interview questions about your proficiency in Microsoft Word? Could you prepare a table of contents, footnotes and endnotes for a document with 20 chapters and 200 pages? How about “managing and tracking document changes, using highlights and comments”? I’m not asking whether you could run to the library on the way home and grab a book on Word skills. I mean if at the end of a job interview, they stuck you in a room with a computer, could you demonstrate those skills right now? What about Microsoft Word 2010?

Most Intermediate Microsoft Word skills, such as creating and formatting complex tables, would be a stretch for many of us unless they had been previously required in our employment. It’s not a question of whether you could easily get up to speed on these skills if you turned out to need them after you were hired. Most of us could do that. But what if many of the jobs you are looking for all say that they want Advanced Microsoft Office proficiency but you don’t yet have them?

Show Your Microsoft Word Skills with 5 Simple Strategies

  • Use research tools, including information interviews with current company contacts to identify exactly what the employer does require for the position you are seeking.
  • Come prepared to the job interview with checklists that honestly reflect your current skill levels with Microsoft Office suite. Include that one page in your portfolio. Some organizations ask for advanced Microsoft Office suite skills for every job posting, but it’s not likely they actually need them. If possible,
  • Revise your resume to honestly describe your current skills, such as Intermediate Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel and Beginner Microsoft PowerPoint and Access. That should seem more credible than a claim of advanced skills across the entire Microsoft Office Suite. Unless your previous employment required very sophisticated skills or you have extensive training, that simply is not credible. You definitely can’t expect them to take your word for it.
  • Upgrade your skills regularly: Over time, keep adding to your skills as part of your job interview preparation. You don’t need to wait until a prospective employer gives you a reason to add the skill. Free training, including videos on YouTube and books at your local library, is widely available,! When you can demonstrate another skill, upgrade your skills list.
  • Create a demonstration document that you could bring with you to the job interview or even email in advance. For example, find a simple text version of a classic novel or other public domain document. Reformat the document, demonstrating the full range of Intermediate and Advanced Skills in Microsoft Word 2010. Create a new PDF file with an index to examples in the document of each of the skills you are claiming. Bring that PDF file with you on an inexpensive USB drive that you can leave behind at the end of the interview!

Prepare for Job Interview Questions on Microsoft Office Skills

Job seekers need to arrive at the job interview prepared to respond appropriately for all predictable questions. To do that, reassure a prospective employer that you have the up-to-date Microsoft Office skills, especially if those qualifications wouldn’t be indicated by previous work experience. The checklists in the MS Office Skills Checklists section of this site can help you to credibly communicate.

Does all this sound like a lot of work? I’m not suggesting that it isn’t, but it may set you apart from the competition. Don’t just claim your qualifications. Use the checklists to prove them!

Do you have other suggestions? Please let me know!

Check out this Slideshare presentation on how these checklists can benefit you!