Here it is. Interview for the job you want. Let me explain.
Most people interview against a job description. That makes sense, right. However, today’s job descriptions are longer than most people’s resume. I was recently consulted on a job description that was four pages long. It was so detailed and precise that three quarters of the way through the first page I was exhausted and discouraged. I was being asked if I knew anyone who would be interested. While I know a lot of people in the industry, the person they were looking for is so specific, I don’t think they exist.
You would be chastised if you had a four-page resume. The rule of thumb is that someone should be able to scan your resume in about 90 seconds. Yet, it’s not uncommon for a lengthy job description to read more like a very long wish list? As an employer, the current belief is that there are a lot of people looking for jobs so they should be able to find the ideal candidate to meet all their needs. In theory that sounds great, in practice it’s not realistic. I’m now hearing of more and more job openings not being filled because all the requirements aren’t being checked. And yet, there are more and more qualified people looking for jobs. Something has to give.
Recently, an ex-colleague was mired in disappointment surrounding her job hunt. It seems that all the job openings in her field are looking for someone with such precise experience that she is questioning her ability to find a job. She keeps retooling her resume and her story in the hopes that she can fit the exact specifics a potential employer is looking for. I wonder if there is a slightly different approach. Maybe you should interview for the job you want. To do this, you need to reframe how you approach your job search.
Think about your ideal job. Composite it together based on your strengths and what you like to do. What will showcase your talents? Be honest. For those that have been working for 15-20 years, you should have a good understanding of where you can add the most value and how it can impact an organization. This is the time to be your best self-promoter.
It goes without saying, that you must meet many of the job requirements but you also have to pitch yourself. In advertising, one of the most common approaches to a new business pitch is to first give them what they are asking for and then give them what they need. The same holds true when interviewing for a job. Talk about how you can fulfill the job description and then talk about what you can do and how it can benefit the company.
I have a client who interviewed for a position using the job description as a starting point for the conversation but not the end game. Through a series of interviews they talked not only about the specifics of the job but also their ambitions and how those can help the company. Low and behold, they spoke with such passion and excitement that the potential (now current) employer rewrote the job description to expand roles and responsibilities. It’s turning out to be a win-win for everyone.
Oh yeah, this also works quite well when you’re looking to advance within your current organization. Give it a try you may be surprised by the results.