I’m approaching this Soft Skill from the Interviewee’s perspective because I think that will also be of some value to Interviewer’s.
The traditional picture of Working Life… starting at the bottom of a ladder and climbing progressively upward… seems less likely to be your experience if you’re just starting out.
For one thing, I’m not sure if there’s still a ladder.
An image of the Career concept of the future that comes to my mind is a coffee shop with lots of chatting and everyone changing tables from time to time. I like that image.
Moving on to a board game analogy, even with a professional qualification that’s linked to a specific business sector like pharmaceuticals, there’s a strong possibility that new entrants could over the course of their working life, encounter more downward sliding snakes than upward pointing ladders.
It’s a pessimistic view but the underlying message seems to be that we have to take responsibility for managing our working life and plan for the long term.
One starting place for your plan could be to get a fix on what you feel you would actually like to do while earning an income. For example, if connecting with people will bring out the best in you, explore the employment (and self employment) options for that and work back from there, making sure to cover all of the conditions you need to consider…pay for instance.
One thing I’ve observed from my coaching experience is that people who are fortunate enough to be doing something they feel is meaningful often get unsuspected benefits and life is good.
Another criteria for selecting an employment path or switching to another one, might be, right from the start, to explore the qualifications and/or work experience which will give you the biggest advantage in interviews in as wide a range of fields as possible and then start to weave those into your cv. Even if you haven’t actually had experience of the skill but you know how it works, you may still bring potential value to an employer who can see the benefits to them of giving you the opportunity to put the theory into practice. So, even though you may not have put that on your cv you can bring it up in the interview where it’s possible to elaborate more easily. It’s a ‘By the way’ moment that often scores the winning goal.
Time and effort invested in developing skills does pay off especially if they are in demand across a wide range of business sectors. Examples of how you have implemented or studied lets say, Critical Thinking or Analysis skills will get the attention of potential employers.
Preparing for an interview, you have your strengths and experience lined up to talk about so don’t leave it to the interviewer to draw the information out of you. Be proactive and look out for opportunities to showcase your assets. Maybe run through the interview in your mind (or with a Coach) to see how it might flow and what comes up. You don’t have to be passive in an interview but you do need use your judgement of what’s appropriate then trust your judgement.
Why not demonstrate your interest in them by gathering intelligence about what they are doing…new initiatives, investments, social media releases are good sources for this especially if there’s anything that ties in with your experience or catches your interest.
What more would you like to know about them that you like the sound of? Let them know, ask questions and express an interest in their answers with more questions. It’s an example of a response to that ‘anything for us’ question at the end and people like to talk about their own organisations. We miss an opportunity during an interview if we aren’t thoroughly prepared to respond to this one as well as the ‘Tell us about yourself’ question.
So think, is there anything you’ve done that probably none of the other candidates have done?
If we try to overcome a misplaced sense of modesty about having done something that’s out of the ordinary, it could be the moment when your interviewer sits up and takes notice. Believe me, I’ve seen it happen so be creative and own your uniqueness. It’s about being authentic and human so don’t undersell yourself. It’s not helpful for you or the interviewer because you both miss out.