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Job Hunting Blues: No One Will Want My Skills

“I need a new job, but my talents are very industry specific; no one will want my skills.”

We’ve all been there or we’ve known someone else who has/is in that situation. My gut reaction is to say, “Yes, Eeyore, you are correct – no one.” But the reality is that will not help the job seeker or the recruiter. So, what are we going to do?

Transferable skills are timeless

Businesses are changing. Jobs that may have required high levels of technical skill may be fading or requiring fewer people to do the job. Tell the recruiter about the transferable skill you possess – the skill that is valuable regardless of the industry. Here are some examples:

  • A printing employee may be able to offer proofreading skills or an eye for details.
  • A toll booth employee may be able to offer quick numerical computations.
  • A seamstress employee may be able to offer creative design, quick numerical computations, and/or nimble hands for dealing with small machine parts.

Transferable skills are in high demand with employers because it allows the employer to get the new employee up to speed more quickly.

Focus on order

Tell the recruiter what skill it is that you do well and then how you know you do it well. Most people want to tell you how they do something well…followed by naming the skill, itself. Here are some examples:

A line worker at an automotive factory:
I understand rigorous quality control standards because the part I was responsible for creating was only allowed 1 in 400 errors.

A customer service worker at a fast-food chain:
I am skilled at keeping a calm and pleasing demeanor while ensuring speed and accuracy during high traffic times and this is why I was placed at the drive thru window.

A tattoo artist (or various designer positions):
I am attentive, handle active listening well, and have a high comprehension of what clients are trying to convey during the consultation and conception phase which allows the rendering phase to have fewer revisions.

By stating what your skill is first, I’m more likely to be intrigued as to how you developed this skill or how you can support this claim. And continuing the conversation will probably help you to progress in the recruiting process for a job.

The next time you find yourself spinning your wheels and thinking “no one will want my skills,” instead of saying “oh bother,” try to explain what you do/did to someone else using the suggestions outlined here. You and the listener should be able to identify at least five transferable skills and how you used them.

ExactHire offers software applications that help organizations create a paperless HR department. Visit our resources section or contact us today for more information.

Image credit: Eeyore on the Escalator by Annie Mole (contact)

Sharpen Your Strengths So You Don’t Have to Worry About Weaknesses

It’s the classic question that many have been asked during the interview process…what are your strengths and weaknesses? Well, we know that everyone has them and it is part of who we are as employees and how we fit into the company…but do we look at them accurately, or in a way that we can make them work in our favor? As a recruiter, have you ever wondered why this is important to know? And, most importantly, do we really need to improve our areas of weakness?

How are we hard-wired?

Knowing yourself is as important in the hiring realm as in everyday life. There are many different assessments or “tests” that exist to help measure a person’s strengths and weakness. Some of us know these behaviors already while others are surprised by the results. When I was first hired here, I took a ProfileXT assessment that showed where I am on a scale for different cognitive and behavioral traits. I was not shocked to learn I have high scores in numeric reasoning, sociability and independence. I was surprised to see a lower score in assertiveness, since I always felt I was pretty straight forward.

Why is this important?

Seems obvious, but these scores show us and our employer a lot about how we think each day. These scores can be used by management to help understand why employees act a certain why, what motivates them and with which other employees they will most naturally interact in a positive, productive way. This whole idea is to create and cultivate the best job fit for the employee, thus creating an optimal work culture and environment. For example, my boss knows I am a social person so he is okay if I spend a little time chatting around “the water cooler” because he knows I need that to re-energize and then focus back on my work. Since we are a small company, we have the added bonus of sharing our assessment scores with each other and this helps us all out in knowing how to communicate and problem solve within our group.

What should we try to improve?

No one is Superman (or Superwoman), so there is no way to turn each weakness into a strength. Instead, focus on the areas that are already your strengths (could be behavior and/or cognitive traits), and use those to your advantage. For example, I am the official “bean-counter” at ExactHire so it make sense for me to sharpen my accounting knowledge and number skills, staying up to date on the financial world. I also know that it does not make a lot of sense to wear myself out trying to improve on my “technical” scores when I am not the IT person for our company. The same is true for someone who is customer service oriented, they do not need to be a numeric calculation genius because it is not in their job requirements…but it would make sense for them to be creative problem solvers in addressing client requests and inquiries.

Knowing your strengths can truly help in your job search or just in your daily life and how you interact at the office. A cohesive team can be created by knowing each other’s strengths and weakness because you can personalize your response for each situation at work…i.e. thinking about how you know others may react to your statements and using that knowledge to deliver news in the most optimal way as a result. For the person job hunting, you will be able to see how you will best fit into an organization ahead of time, based on what you know about the position and/or organization, and point out those strengths to the recruiter or hiring manager. To learn more about employee assessments available from ExactHire, please visit our assessment features page or contact us today.

Image credit: toothpicks by Miranda Granche (contact)

Why Email Subject Lines Matter

It’s somewhere between 5:30 and 7 AM and I’m taking my first peek at email. This is my personal mental preparation time. I am not yet “on the clock” but I am the perpetual preparer…and so I look at my inbox and all of the subject lines that fill the space.

Every day is a new day, and whatever surprise is in this box, it will give me clues as to how challenging the day that lies ahead may be.

Dramatic, huh? Does it make you feel like you are in a weird version of The Hunger Games? Regardless of the tone that has been set, the fact still remains that a subject line matters. A subject line holds power. And more people should use them to their advantage.

Take the following two subject lines as an example:

  • Subject: Don’t know what I’m doing – HELP!
  • Subject: Question: Lost when adding different user types

Both could contain the same information and the same request, but the second one is likely to allow me to reply with a helpful response much more quickly because the sender is setting the scene and being specific in scope. With the second email, from the subject line I would assume that I would have less hunting to do before I understood the question…this message is essentially my low-hanging fruit. However, with the first email, I would guess that it might take more time for me to understand the question, and that I might need to block off some time to respond. While both messages should be addressed in the same general day, the more specific one will probably get the first response.

Suggestions on how to make subject lines clear:

  • If there is a due date – say it. This helps the recipient prioritize.
    • Subject: Need signature by 2/4
  • Specify what the reader needs to do in one to two words. Action, FYI, Read Later, Question (or Q/A), etc. If this is an FYI or Read Later, the email may get pushed to a little later in time allowing me to focus on the most critical needs of the moment.
    • Subject: Action: Need signature by 2/4
  • If priority is important – add that in as well. This one is often combined with the due date. A priority may not be necessary if there is a due date attached. Urgent, High Priority, Low Priority, etc.
    • Subject: High Priority – Action: Need Signature by 2/4
  • Differentiators are helpful in our organization…when we communicate internally and when we respond to client inquiries, as well. The client, vendor, or product being referenced is always helpful…as sometimes it cannot be assumed that the recipient is immediately on the same page as the sender – simply due to the volume of messages that come in on varying subjects.
    • Subject: ACME, Inc. – High Priority – Action: Need Signature by 2/4

We all have heard that habits are hard to break…but habits can be hard to form, too. If it has never occurred to you to think strategically about your subject lines, then this could be a huge opportunity for you! Especially if your email strings tend to need a lot of back and forth correspondence to clarify what must be remedied or addressed. Give it a try! If you don’t already, start including a more specific snippet of your message’s content in the subject of your email. You might even start with your internal emails to co-workers first – see if there’s a notable difference in response time and time to resolution. Then, work your way into incorporating this technique within external-facing emails. It may be slightly awkward at first if people aren’t used to your subject line candor, but people will generally appreciate the heads up that your revised approach affords.

ExactHire provides technology solutions for the hiring process. For more information, please visit our resources page or contact us.

Image credit: Message to the Mail Man by gajman (contact)