In 2019, we are now way past the antiquated model of ‘get a degree, get a job, and stay steady.’ From the employers’ perspective, they now have two ‘employees’: the people and technological assets.
As new technologies reshape the business goals and challenges, the management has to adapt and quickly find new talents with different skills needed to manage the ever-changing allocation of people and technological resources.
From the employees’ perspective, the job market is more competitive but such competition is countered by the significantly reduced barrier to entry. Switching careers has never been easier, for instance, with more and more employers realising the importance of transferable skills and thus promoting more inclusive hiring policies.
With more technical aspects of the needed skills now being able to be performed by computers and 800 million jobs expected to be replaced by automation by 2030, employers are now more focused on finding talents with human-only skills such as creativity, critical thinking, and empathetic communication. That’s why employers are no longer afraid to look outside their industry as long as the candidates have experiences and skills that could be applied to any vertical. It is a lot easier to teach someone the ins and outs of the industry than to teach someone stakeholder management or applying emotional intelligence to customer interactions.
So, what can you do to make yourself an ideal candidate?
#1. Find commonalities across job descriptions to paint what an ideal resume would look like
You must first investigate what skills are in demand by observing job descriptions for roles you want to target. Find as many job descriptions as possible for relevant roles and identify words/phrases that are common (e.g. cross-functional, strategic planning, setting people goals, etc.).
This will help you get a sense of what the ideal resume would look like from the recruiters’ perspective – understanding which skills and qualifications the employer wants to see in your job application. For instance, if the ideal candidate is someone with a lot of experience leading cross-functional teams, they’d be thrilled to see a bullet point on your resume highlighting an initiative where you were working with Sales, Product, Customer Support, Technical Implementation, and Executive Leadership Team.
You can also use sites such as LinkedIn to find those who are already in the role you are applying for to see if there’s anything that stands out about their background.
#2. Narrow down the differences between the ideal resume and your current resume
Now that you have an idea of what an ideal resume should look like, compare it to what you have today. What’s different? Are there experiences that are not exactly what the recruiter might look for but could highlight similar, transferable skills? Are there glaring gaps that could potentially make you unqualified?
For instance, if the job requires you to have a minimum 3 years of experience using certain systems you’ve never used, that may be a challenging hurdle to overcome. Whereas, if they are looking for someone who knows how to mentor (i.e. manage direct reports), then you could argue that you having to work with so many different stakeholders across different levels give you a unique advantage to become a successful manager even if you’ve never necessarily managed people directly.
Focus on gaps and discrepancies that can be addressed either by transferable skills/experiences or by accessible learning/education.
#3. Prioritise by Must, Preferred, and Good-to-Have
It is not possible for you to have every single quality desired by the employer. You should focus first on ensuring that you got the must-haves, the non-negotiables.
If the employer will only consider someone who has experience with social selling or launching eCommerce on social media, then do it for yourself and go through the process. Find others to work on a small project of creating an eCommerce business just so that you can showcase your abilities to the employer. It might not be the same as launching eCommerce in an enterprise setting but it still will make employers consider your application and appreciate your tenacity.
Take online courses to gain knowledge about areas pertinent to the role. There is a reason why so many professionals include certificates and non-degree online courses on their LinkedIn profiles. It not only demonstrates the breadth of their knowledge beyond their degrees and career path, but it also signals to recruiters and others that they never stop learning.