SKILLS DEVELOPMENT / 24 July 2020Soft Skills: Why They are Harder Than You Think and How You Can Acquire Them
You’ve read plenty of job postings that sound like great jobs. The only problem is that you don’t quite measure up in the eyes of the employer. Maybe you meet 85% of the job expectations and miss out on the other 15%. Perhaps you have all the skills required except one or you’re shy on number of years of experience. How will you ever get your foot in the door?
According to career expert Donald Asher, author of 11 books including How to Get Any Job and Who Gets Promoted, Who Doesn't, and Why, as humans we make “snap judgments based on criteria that are mostly aesthetic."
If you want to be selected for a job you are not quite qualified for, you have to walk right, talk right, and represent right.
"Appearance counts a ton in this process, the appearance of your resume, obviously, and your appearance for interviews. You have to look like you belong in the job.”
1. Read the Job Posting Carefully
Your first step should be to understand what the employer wants and how your skills apply. “Take all the unique nouns out of the posting and put them into your resume, without telling a lie,” suggests Don. “The more clever you are, the more you can do this. It is a challenge of creativity to get these nouns truthfully into your documents.”
Be sure to highlight your best qualities. If it’s experience you’re lacking, make up for it with other skills. If you routinely see that the jobs you want require experience or skills which you lack, it’s time to go out and get what you need.
2. Research the Company
Don says it is “absolutely critical” that you set yourself apart from the rest of the crowd by demonstrating your knowledge of the organization. It communicates you’re interested and you’ve done your research. One of the best ways to do this is to highlight something about the company and tie it into what you bring to the table.
For instance, if the company is going through a merger or acquisition and you have first-hand experience in this area, be sure to point that out. Or perhaps the firm launched a product which you know how to use, let them know. Don’t be afraid to point out relatable experiences.
This is basic marketing. You need to demonstrate why you are a candidate worth interviewing. Maybe you have a skill or area of expertise they didn’t request, but you believe will fit nicely with the job. “Maybe you don't have any experience with a software package that is required to perform in the new job,” offers Don, “but even knowing the name of it, and letting that drop casually off your lips, can clinch the deal.”
You know what traits they want (you read them in the job posting), so show you have them – whether you picked them up on your last job, gained them through training or learned them through an internship or volunteer experience. If you want the job, you have to sing your own praises.
3. Offer to Work as a Temp
If you are one of the many job seekers who are in-between jobs right now, you are in a perfect position to be flexible. Make your situation work for you.
You may not be the ideal candidate in the employer’s eyes, so to prove you can handle the job offer to take the position on a temporary or contract basis. You might also want to consider offering to train for a week for free before the incumbent leaves. Finally, if the position calls for more years of experience than you have, suggest working in a junior or trainee role.
4. Suggest the Role that’s Right for You
When all else fails, offer the skills you do have. Perhaps the job they need to fill right now isn’t an exact match. But don’t close the door behind you.
“If they like you, and they don't choose you for the role in question, they'll feel a little guilty about that,” explains Don. “Let them know what other roles you could play and check in regularly with them in the future. You could be the inside candidate next time!”
To recap: If you don't necessarily have the right skills for the job you want, find out how some of your skills will match the job description. Also, make sure you do your own research on the company you are applying for. This will show that you care about who you are working for and employers love to see the potential of a hard-working employee who cares enough to know what their company does. Keep working hard and remember to never give up! For more tips and advice, subscribe to our blog!
Teresa Brashear grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from California State University. She spent seven years working in Washington, D.C. in PR agency and moved back in LA. Now she is HR-manager in IT company, successful writer at ResumeBros and mom. When she isn’t glued to a laptop screen, she spends free time working in the garden, learning French and Chinese, and trying to be a good volleyball player in an amateur team.