Talent Development Centre

Tag Archives: job applications

All Talent Development Centre posts for Canadian technology contractors relating to job applications.

Quick Poll Results: Self-Screening

What skills do you meet before applying to a technology contract or job?

Last month, the Talent Development Centre’s Contractor Quick Poll asked our readers what skills they ensure they meet before applying to a specific job. The results show that the majority ensure they meet all of the mandatory job requirements plus some desirable ones. Below is a look at the final results. Do you agree? It’s not too late to have your say. Complete the poll here.

Quick Poll Results: What skills do you meet before applying to a job?

If you want to know what recruiters think, take a look at this post from last fall.

How to Use the Job Description to Nail Your Next Interview

This article was posted October 18, 2015 on TheSavvyIntern by JobScan Blog

ow to Use the Job Description to Nail Your Next Job Interview The most underutilized tool in preparing for job interviews?

The job description.

As a job seeker, you rely heavily upon the job description in the early stages of the hunt—after all, it’s the only piece of information you have to help you land an interview. But, once many job seekers have landed the interview, the job description gets tossed aside.

Too bad, because job descriptions contain a secret wealth of knowledge that can aid you in preparing for an interview!

Instead of closing that browser tab, here’s how to use that job description to nail your next interview…

Talking Points

When preparing for an interview, most people will focus on what questions they think the employer is going to ask. While this is a valid approach, it can also be a complete guessing game. Instead of focusing on what the employer might ask, focus on creating answers you can use for any number of different questions based on the things included in the job description.

A good job description will lay out all the essential skills the employer is seeking. The employer wants to understand how you developed those skills and what you’ve accomplished using them.

Prepare for your interview by brainstorming a talking point for each technical or hard skill or listed in the job description. Focus on highlighting your accomplishments, milestones, and the goals you’ve achieved using that specific skill.

For instance: If they are seeking someone with “2+ years of experience leading a team,” make notes on the key successes that a team has accomplished under your direction in the last few years.

Create Your Soft Skill Stories

Also, take the time to identify quantifiable stories that will demonstrate you possess the characteristics and soft skills the employer is seeking.

Assessing soft skills in an interview is difficult because the employer usually spends less than an hour with you. While they’ll be able to get a snapshot of your general personality and interpersonal skills during the interview, you need to paint a complete picture of what you’re like in a professional setting day-in and day-out.

Create a list of stories from your previous jobs, school, and volunteer work that correspond to soft skills in the job description. If they want someone “highly communicative and client-centric” be armed with a story of a specific time you went above and beyond your normal job duties to satisfy a client or kept them abreast of developments in a highly important campaign you headed up.

If you’re prepared with talking points about both your hard and soft skills, including specific stories and examples to back up your claims, you don’t need to stress over what the questions will be—you’ve already got your answers!

Identify Weaknesses

Don’t feel disheartened if you don’t meet all of the criteria for a position. In a job description, the employer essentially lays out their “unicorn employee.” In reality, most candidates will have mastered some skills, but lack others.

In preparing for the interview, your weaknesses should become apparent. As you developed your talking points in step one, you probably struggled to come up with stories for some of the desired qualifications. Those are your weak spots, and you need to be prepared to talk about them.

To combat your weaknesses before the interview, be honest with yourself about your skill levels. If you exaggerate your skills during the interview, and can’t perform them upon landing the job, it will reflect poorly upon you—and could even get you fired.

Then, start learning as much as you can about the areas in which you are weakest. Even if you only spend a couple hours reading up on the subject, you will at least have enough knowledge of the topic to understand what the employer is seeking. Plus, there’s always the chance you know more about the subject than you realized!

Be armed with specific plans about how and where you can learn the skills where you are weak or lack experience. And, of course, share any related skills you already possess that will speed up the learning curve.

Create Your Own Set of Interview Questions

While a job description can give you a ton of useful information on how to prepare for your interview, it does not present a complete picture. Company websites and resources such as Glassdoor can be useful tools to gather further information, but interviews provide the best access to information—directly from the source.

After you’ve read the job description, you should have a broad sense of what the position entails, what the company values, and how you stack up. Ask yourself what the job description doesn’t tell you. Those are the questions you want to ask during the interview!

Consider the following:

  • What does the job description tell you about company culture?
  • Do you get a clear sense of what the company’s ideal candidate would look like?
  • Do you understand how this role fits into their team? Their organization? The company?

Use your answers to these questions to guide you; think about what missing information you want to gather during the interview. Remember: most interviewers expect you to have questions prepared, because it demonstrates that you’ve been researching the company and are serious about the job!

The other bonus to crafting questions based on the job description is that you can verify how accurately it portrays the job and the company. If the job description says the company values a good work/life balance, and that’s a big selling point for you, don’t be afraid to ask:

“The job description mentioned this company prioritizes work/life balance. Can you tell me about how the company helps actively promote the balance? How does it impact your work here?”

The job description is only a starting point, but it can help you assess what you don’t know, as well as what you do know about the job. It’s up to you to collect the rest.

When you land an interview, keep in mind that one of the hardest parts is already over. Your resume beat their applicant track system and now you have the opportunity to meet with someone face to face. The company has already shown an interest in you, so showing up to the interview prepared and relaxed will just affirm their decision to select you

Do You Have a Job Application Strategy?

Do You Have a Job Application Strategy?About a month ago, we let out a couple secrets on the best ways to grab a recruiter’s attention, according to Eagle’s recruiters. A survey revealed that you’ll get best results when contacting them directly, but the reality is, due to their hectic schedule, they may not get back to you immediately. The next best step is to apply for jobs and build online profiles to make sure they find you. In a follow-up post, we provided some ideas on where to apply and build a profile, but have you thought about a job application strategy?

That seems like an odd question. Of course you’ll apply to the jobs that match your profession. But how deeply to you review the qualifications? Do you apply to jobs for which you’re barely qualified, as long as the title is somewhat similar to what you’ve done in the past? Or do you make sure you meet 100% of the experience a client is seeking before submitting your resume? Eagle’s recruiters have an opinion about that too!

Read the Job Description Before Applying

Most job postings will include some mandatory qualifications and some desirable qualifications, and it’s a good idea to carefully review them all. The vast majority of Eagle recruiters (85%) want you to meet all of the mandatory requirements before you apply to their job, otherwise you will be rejected. There are, however, mixed opinions on the topic of desirables. While few recruiters expect you to meet all of them, some do want you to have a large percentage of those optional qualifications. Others aren’t as concerned and will keep you on the shortlist as long as you pass the mandatory section.

While these preferences are a great guideline to consider, it isn’t black and white. It’s important that you know and understand the current market. If the contract opportunity is in a competitive market, for a role where there are many potential applicants, you’ll need to make certain that you meet most, if not all, of the qualifications. If the opposite is true, and the role requires some niche skills that you can provide, the desirable requirements can be less important.

You Need to Demonstrate that You Qualify

Knowing that you’re qualified and demonstrating that you’re qualified for a position are two very different things. Last month, Morley Surcon wrote a post about adding focus to your resume and customizing it for each role. Recruiters review many resumes so will not always take the time to read between the lines. If you know that you meet requirements, clearly show it and demonstrate exactly how you gained that experience. It may take some extra work, but it will go a very long way!

Don’t Throw Spaghetti at the Wall

Some contractors take a strategy of applying to absolutely everything, hoping to eventually get a call for something, the equivalent of throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks. This approach can have some negative consequences. In fact, more than half of Eagle’s recruiters say that if you apply to everything, they’ll eventually start ignoring you. Throwing your name into the hat for every job gives a perception of desperation and can make it difficult for a recruiter to take you seriously.

One recruiter put it this way “Applying to every job indiscriminately is like ordering every dish on a menu – as nice as it would be to eat EVERYTHING, you will only actually eat 1-2 preferred dishes. An applicant must have a handle on their skillset, and a strong understanding of what they are qualified to do. Untargeted submissions lead me to believe that a candidate lacks confidence in their skills/abilities. If an applicant is not confident in their skills, how can I – a recruiter – represent them with confidence?

So, do you have a job application strategy? Are you carefully considering if you qualify or do you throw spaghetti at the wall? What have been the results of those applications? Let us know in the comments below.

8 Things to Ponder When Applying for a Contract

You may find yourself in a position where you are unsure about whether to apply for a contract. It could be that you’re unsure if you have the experience; it could be that it’s in a different city and you’re hesitant about travel or perhaps another reason. If you apply for the contract with this mindset then you are bound to let that show in your application which will probably be the end of your chances!

There are many factors to consider before hitting that submit button including:

  1. Unsure about submitting an application for a contractIf you really have little or no interest in the job then absolutely do not apply.
  2. Never apply just for the experience of applying.
  3. If you decide to apply, then get in the right frame of mind and commit.
  4. Apply as though it is the contract of your dreams.
  5. Be honest about your fit. Don’t oversell yourself or sell yourself short.
  6. Demonstrate how you can fit the role with your experience and skills.
  7. Make your application very personal to this project. Customize your resume to highlight the appropriate skills and experience.
  8. If you need more information, get in contact with the Recruiter to learn more about the project, the company, and if possible any decision makers.

With these consideration in mind, you will be putting your best foot forward and will have a great chance of having your resume submitted to a client for consideration. If the client like what they see, you’ll be on your way to the interview and hopefully a new contract!