What employers want in an applicant
Obviously, employers want to recruit the best candidates possible, but what is ‘the best’?
Some people might assume ‘the best’ means the candidate with the highest qualifications and a stack of relevant work experience, achievements and extra-curricular activities under their belt. However, that’s not necessarily the case.
Employers also want to see other qualities, which the ‘best’ candidates may not have. Does the applicant show potential? Will they fit in with the company’s culture and ethos? Do they demonstrate enthusiasm and commitment? Do they have other skills and experience, unrelated to the role, which might be useful too? Can the employer see something of your personality in your application, so you stand out from the other applicants?
When you look at a job advert or person specification, remember the list of skills and qualities are often an employer’s ‘wish-list’. They will list the things they would ideally like in an applicant, but will often accept that some really good candidates may not have everything listed.
So, when you look at that list, don’t fixate on the one thing you can’t do or don’t have experience of, at the expense of the nine things you can do. (Obviously, if you can only evidence one thing on the list, that’s a different matter!) Concentrate on the skills you can demonstrate with strong and varied examples from your experience. For that one requirement on the employer’s list you don’t have experience of, is there something similar you can use to show your potential to meet the requirement?
Understanding the employer’s view
Whether you’re applying for an internship, part-time work or graduate job, remember to appreciate the employer’s perspective. They’re not wanting to employ someone out of a charitable inclination!
They need someone to do a particular job and to be confident in the candidate they choose to do that job. So, if you’re asked the question, “why do you want this job?” or “why are you interested in this job?”, don’t enthuse about what a great opportunity and how wonderful it’ll be for you.
Think about (and express) what benefits you’ll bring to the company and the role. What will the employer gain from offering you the job? How will you contribute to the firm’s success?
If you want some further insight into what employers want, take a look at the Job Hunting Toolkit, which also includes tips on using job search sites, understanding job adverts, and a bit of myth busting about graduate jobs.