The ideal candidate is an idea in the minds of hopeful employers. Employers seldom get every quality they'd like. You can win even if you don't have all the qualifications. Being the ideal candidate, then, doesn't mean you have to conform to a rigid set of specifications. You have a measure of flexibility. But you must be somewhere in an employer's ball park, not way outside it.
Stick to what matters You'll be seen as a strong candidate if: You stress the qualifications you have that are what the employer wants. You ignore the ones you're missing. You don't volunteer any information about yourself that's not responsive to the employer's needs. Never ramble on about yourself.
If you spill out your whole background, and all your hopes and dreams, on the table for the employer's inspection, you're very likely to reveal some fact, some tendency, some objective, some like or dislike that will put you out of the running. Deal with areas you know to be of interest to the employer, and nothing else. How to keep from being weeded out Remember that the employer is in the process of weeding candidates out. Let's say she has ten candidates for one of the top sales careers for women, but she can only hire one of them.
When the hiring is over, there'll be one new sales professional, and nine unsuccessful candidates. The employer must disqualify nine people, and she's looking for reasons to weed them out. Find out what a prospective employer looking for. It's not hard to do. Just ask. What are the functions the person in this position will perform? What are the strengths you're looking for in an ideal candidate? What changes would you like to see made in the way this job is done? What is the most important objective of this department? Answers to such questions as these will tell you exactly what to talk about concerning your own strengths, education and experience.
It's like borrowing somebody's watch so you can tell her what time it is. Again, find out what's important to the employer, and then address those needs and interests. Stay away from everything else. At this point you don't know whether other, unrelated facts about your background will make you look good, or get you weeded out. Play it cool.
And safe. Remember, if you want to be successful in your effort to impress an employer, learn to think like an employer. Consider what he or she really wants, and why.
Make a serious effort to see the world from the employer's perspective. Because your own point of view is not what counts here. It's the employer who will make the decision to offer you a job, or not.
Bruce J. Bloom is a respected writer on job-hunting and career opportunities. He is a contributor to the hard-hitting career strategy website "Fast Track For Women," http://www.winyourcareer.com. His career manual "Fast Track To The Best Job" was published by Blazer Books.