One of the challenges of rethinking our careers these days is how to most effectively position ourselves with a potential employer for maximum opportunity (okay, first to get hired, then for maximum opportunity!). In other words, you and your outstanding skills are the solution to the problem or challenge they face.
Whether you’re writing a cover letter, tailoring a resume, or preparing for a job interview, think about how to demonstrate and document your problem-solving track record.
The problem or pain point could be as simple as “we need someone reliable who can learn our system quickly and replace the employee we just promoted.” Or it might be “we need someone who knows how to turn our print content into interactive media for our website.” Or perhaps it’s “we need someone who not only understands how healthcare clinics work but also speaks Spanish to help us effectively support the healthcare needs of our growing number of Latino patients.”
Your job is to learn, from the job posting and doing as much research on the organization as possible, what problem, challenge, or opportunity the organization is trying to address through the posted position, and then focus entirely on the value you bring that will help them successfully do so. Basically, your communications should showcase four things:
You have the skills, expertise, and track record necessary to fix the problem This can include education, credentials, work experience, and/or volunteer projects that relate to the challenge the company needs to address. Whether in your resume, cover letter, or interview, your communications need to be about the professional value you bring that lets you help the company resolve its “pain points.”
You deliver results: Prospective employers pay attention when you can point to quantifiable results from work you did (solutions you provided). Being able to say that you increased customer retention by 15% or contributed to a project that came in 20% under budget or achieved some other measurable positive result means that you have a track record of delivering actual results. How to frame this? Companies generally focus on three bottom-line benefits: an increase in revenue, a decrease in costs, or an increase in satisfied customers. If you’re able to point to achievable results in any of those areas, make sure potential employers know it. And if you’re a student without any applicable job history to point to, then be ready to discuss how you would become their solution based on the knowledge and insights you’re gaining in your program.
You learn fast Almost any new job is going to involve a learning curve where you’re trained on existing systems, processes, and practices. The faster you can master these and actually start producing value (that is, being the solution), the happier the company. So be sure to highlight any experiences that demonstrate how you quickly mastered new information and were able to apply that knowledge in previous situations. And if you’re a student, talk about what you’ve learned about how you learn in your classes that will enable you to “learn on demand.”
You’re easy to work with and will fit in with – rather than disrupt – their team In terms of being that great solution, think “seamless transition.” Make it clear that your great people and team skills have helped drive successful solutions in the past, and will do so now as well. So, what problems do your skills and expertise solve?