Focus on your skills, not experience
As job seekers, when formulating your resume or cover letter, there is always a conscious decision to make. Do you emphasise your skills, or how much experience you have gained? Even though employers are interested in viewing your relevant work history and experience, many favour skill set over experience. Why is this? Let's delve deeper.
A typical candidate lifecycle follows common patterns. First, you gain experience and from experience skills are developed. It is important to continually develop your skills. They are long-term asset, constantly being refined throughout your career, through frequent, constant and repetitive actions. Through skill development, there will be zero issues in getting that job you desire.
It is worth noting however, experiences are more limited. They are ‘pit stops’ in your career journey and are unique. Each experience is a learning process. You gain insight and knowledge into the professional field and how to problem solve, in order to successfully navigate and combat obstacles. By problem solving, skills are gained, with these staying with you throughout your career.
Clarify your skills
Many job seekers fail to clearly communicate their skills on their resumes and professional profiles. A common trap most fall into is focusing more on their experiences. This includes discussing in-depth the projects or other tasks they have successfully completed. This does not make you stand out from the crowd. The best to do this is clearly and effectively communicating your skills to the employer.
MAKE YOUR SKILLS CRYSTAL CLEAR! Firstly, identify your hard skills including proficiency of certain programs or use of specialised equipment. Additionally, highlight your ‘soft skills’ which are transferable to any position and more likely to resinate with any business or industry, rather than specific technical capabilities or experience. Soft skills include critical thinking and problem solving, process management, emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills. Possessing such skills gets an employer’s attention, making them interested in further reading your resume or application.
Market your skills to differentiate yourself
Differentiate yourself from fellow candidates, through development of a distinctive and strong personal brand. Whilst career goals and your professional history should not be neglected, your primary focus is on current and relevant skills, rather than past experiences.
Showcase these, by providing examples that incorporated your skill set, how you applied them and what the outcome was. Additionally, elaborate on how your skills can create value for new employers. Utilise any opportunity that presents itself to talk about your skills and let the employer decide whether or not the information you’re sharing is important.
Never apologise for a lack of experience
Another common theme job seekers fall into is focusing on their lack of experience, with many being unaware this happens. The main reason this mistake is so easy to make is the seamless transition from being interested in a position to how qualified you are, beyond the relevant work experience an employer is looking for. This reflects on you negatively, because you are essentially saying you are a bad hire. This is simply not true. Whatever your experience level, you will have some transferable skills.
Do not draw negative attention to your weaknesses. Stay positive and focus on your strengths! Immediately launch into your transferable skills, and show your infectious enthusiasm for the position. Be ready to respond openly and honestly when it comes to translating these.
Experience never always equals quality. Even if your experience is on the lighter side, it does not mean you have nothing to offer the employer. It can be an unreliable indicator of how you fit into the role. Just because another candidate has worked in the industry for an extended period of time is not indicative of quality performance, in making substantial and measurable contributions.
Experience is important, however when given precedence over skills, it leads to a breakdown in communication about your worth as a candidate. The secret to standing out is effectively and clearly emphasising your skills.
Never feel embarrassed bragging about them. Feel comfortable by making it a point to show them off. If you are not confident, do not do the work of throwing out your applications to potential employers if you’re not going to gain anything in return. Be specific with the skills you mention and make them shine, as this assists potential employers by demonstrating you’re the right candidate for the position.