Talking about yourself: some people are inherently comfortable with it, though many of us are not.
When trying to get a job, you are not going to make it to the first round, let alone the interview stage, unless you know how to convey to potential employers why they want you on their team. It is important to think about what a prospective employer is going to want to know about you to be interested in speaking with you or be convinced to make the decision to hire you.
There are any number of skills, capabilities, and experiences that you can accrue even before you graduate that will bring value and are highly prized by recruiters. But it does not end with simply having the skills, experiences, and knowledge – you also need to know how to convey all of this. Think about how you are going to articulate what you have experienced – how that relates to you being able to perform in a future job and why you are an ideal team member.
You might be wondering, what are you actually going to say about yourself and your experiences? And, more importantly, how are you going to say it?
Talking About Your Experiences
A guiding principal to keep in mind, is to try and imagine the perspective of the hiring manager – what are they going to be interested in hearing? Think about what he or she is looking out for when they read a profile or a resume. Of course, they are going to want to see your basic information, your qualifications, and such. But when it comes to your experience, aptitudes, and skills you have gained, what is it that will set you apart from the crowd? What about that experience was valuable to you and would be to your future team?
Most recruiters will be looking at the whole picture. They will want to see what you have done, but more importantly, how have you applied your skills and knowledge. Do you have examples of success?
- When you explain your experiences, keep a tight focus on this: it is not so much the what, as the how.
- When you talk about your accomplishments, think about how it was that you met goals and targets. What paths you took to get there. Is there anything notable about it, that would impress managers?
Be mindful that employers are interested in understanding how these experiences reflect on your communication skills, how they reflect on your collaboration with teammates as well as other soft skills, and very importantly, how they demonstrate problem solving abilities. Try to quantify your achievements as much as possible. If you had an internship or volunteered on a project, think of it like this:
- How many team members did you collaborate with?
- How many end-users did you impact?
- Was there a deadline? If so, in how much time did you reach your objectives?
Compare: “I delivered a large-scale project for a multinational” to “working with five teams across different functions, we gave 1000 employees access within four working days.”
Why does this matter? Well, it shows a hiring manager that you too can see the bigger picture. You are already thinking about how what you do, fits into the larger organization.
Keep it Authentic
While it is true that confidence is a key attribute, be sure you check that you are not over-selling yourself. Whether it is your resume, LinkedIn, or your interview, whatever you say about your skills, knowledge, and experience – be prepared to back it up in hard fact and in detail. Be honest above all else.
If someone wants to dig a little deeper into a particular project, or the key accomplishments of a volunteering experience, you are going to want to have the information ready and available. And be in a position to answer questions. If you can confidently explain how you applied your technical knowledge and give proper examples to support it, then you will impress potential employers.
Prepare Now, Document Your Experiences
No matter whether you are in your first, second, or third year of school, you are going to want to start focusing on two key pieces in your professional toolbox:
- Base Resume
- LinkedIn profile
We strongly advise to not wait until you are ready to graduate and are out there looking for a job to start building your resume and profile. It is very easy to forget about key experiences, achievements, or events that could mark you out from the competition. So, start documenting them now. And start building your professional network at the same time.
Creating a detailed, all-purpose resume, and building a profile on LinkedIn sooner rather than later is a recommended move. You will have something to update, complete – and a record of what you have done to date that you can update and modify as you progress in your career. If you have a master resume with everything included, when you apply for jobs you can easily customize your experiences for your application.
Remember, your resume is just that—a summary. Aim to keep things tight and succinct. Though when you apply for jobs, you want an absolute maximum of two pages – for the master resume, it is okay to go beyond because this is for your records only. You can afford to be a bit more expansive in on LinkedIn as users can scroll more easily to find the relevant information. But try to exclude any redundant and irrelevant information.