Job Search Tip - Demonstrate Your Skills

Plenty of job seekers tell employers about their skills, but if you can demonstrate your skills to employers, you will stand out from the crowd of job seekers.

The stories below describe strategies readers readers have used to successfully demonstrate their skills to an employer.

Demonstrate How Your Skills Fit Employers' Needs
Independence, WV

I may be the only person I know who got a job because of what I didn’t know, rather than what I did know. I successfully became a technical writer for a university computing department with absolutely no technical writing experience.

The department wanted someone to write user manuals in terms non-computer users could understand instead of complicated technical jargon programmers typically used.

While I had a background in computer use, I was not a technical writer. However, I had written numerous papers in my undergraduate years and in graduate school.

Thinking my lack of technical writing training might be a problem, I took several of the papers to the interview and produced them when my formal writing experience – or lack thereof – was questioned. Several involved technical Russian language issues. The interviewer had no trouble understanding the documents, and I was hired.

The moral to my story is to always consider how talents you may have can fit the needs of an employer and be prepared to demonstrate those talents. As I advanced to a manager and later director of the same department, I interviewed many applicants. Few were an exact match to the open position, but the successful ones were able to demonstrate how their skills could fit our needs.

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Job Search Luck

by Kimberly Hunter
(Wahiawa, HI)

I've worked in retail, since I was 17 years old. I started out at a grocery store called 'Piggly Wiggly'. I changed between several different jobs, all in retail. I ended up at a job at a store called 'Bill's Dollar Store'. I enjoyed this job immensely, but after a while they started cutting hours.

I didn't freak out about it, I just figured that I'd look for another job, when it was convenient for me. I went into a dollar store called 'Family Dollar' with my father, helping him pick up some stuff.

A cashier was having trouble with her register. I happen to be a pro with cash registers, I had been working in retail for going on three years at the time. I even helped the cashier check out customers and bag items, and the manager was actually okay with.

While we were working, we were discussing jobs, and the manager told me he was looking for someone else. A cashier that had the day off was getting ready to quit, because she was having a baby.

The more we talked, the more excited I got, especially when he guaranteed me full time hours. I was ecstatic. He told me to come in the next day, after I was done with my other job. He had me fill out the application and questionnaire, and I was instantly hired on. I loved the job, worked there for four years, before I got married and had to quit. I had to move out of state. But every time I'm in town, I'm sure to stop by and say hello.

I've never done that at a place where I didn't work before, but I will never regret the fact that I did. I had a full-time job, with benefits, and weekends off. I loved it.

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My Creative Job Search Strategy

I had just finished college, and I wasn't finding a job in my field, so I decided to take a position in retail. However, I wasn't interested in starting out as a cashier, so I checked listings for local big box stores hiring assistant managers.

Naturally, they all wanted relevant experience, but I did not have any to bring to the table, so I had to get creative. One place that was hiring had an on-site one hour photo processing lab, and that gave me an idea.

I went there and purchased a disposable camera, then walked around the store discreetly taking photos of things which could be improved: messy aisles, poor organization, employees goofing off, etc. I finished off the roll and took it the the photo lab for processing.

The photo lab employee was very helpful and friendly, and got me my pictures in less than half an hour. They came out great, and I asked her to get the manager for me so I could pass on my compliments. Managers are often mysteriously unavailable when one has complaints, but they'll come running when you want to say something good.

The manager came down right away, and I started off by praising the great service and quality of the photo lab, while flipping through the pictures as we talked. "What's this?" he asked. There was my opening.

"While I have you here, I also want to talk with you about some aspects of the store which aren't as good as they can be, and what I can do to help you with that." By the end of our conversation, I had been hired directly into the Assistant Manager position with no experience, no references, and no formal interview or application.

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