What do employers look for most in an ideal candidate? Is it the skills? Experience? Education?
I maintain that it’s all about the fit. How well are you going to fit into the company culture? Are you going to like it here? Are they going to like you?
I recently watched an episode of Deadliest Catch in which one crab boat captain, urgently needing a deckhand, visited the local employment office—a Dutch Harbor, Alaska bar. One man there answered the call. He had never crabbed before; he was a rodeo rider. The captain was desperate; he had few choices. The man was hired. But he only lasted a short time before walking off the deck, leaving his crewmates in the lurch. He couldn’t handle it.
Employers used to look at experience as a yardstick of measuring a candidate’s fit, but that’s no longer true. An executive secretary of 15 years at an established law firm might find it difficult to adapt to the same job in a laid-back atmosphere of an internet marketing company, even if the tasks are identical. Considering the costs of hiring a new employee can be enormous—as much as 2 to 3 times the salary of the employee—employers want someone who will stick around a while.
So how do you know if you are a good fit?
First, look at the job announcement. It will list the job requirements, but look for things like, “The ideal candidate will be/possess/have…” It may even contain a short description of the company.
More in-depth research of the company, using tools such as LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and company websites can give a fuller idea of what the company’s culture and values are, how large it is, etc. But even then you might not get the full picture. Talking to company employees can give you information about the job and the company that you haven’t been able to collect through other research methods. You can use LinkedIn company pages to search for employees that might be in your network.
Keep in mind employers prefer to hire through safe routes, such as hiring from within or referrals from trusted connections. While you cannot do anything about the first option, widening your network within the targeted company’s boundaries can increase your chances of being noticed by the hiring managers. And you learn much more about the nitty-gritty of the company.
- How Proper Research Buoys Your Job Chances and Career Path (money.usnews.com)