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Inside the Employer's Mind

When you're trying to get a job, you'll have to convince prospective employers that you will make significant contributions to the success of their business. To present an effective case, you need to understand what employers care about.

Fortunately, each of us have experience as employers, because every week, we "hire" people to help us to solve problems or accomplish our goals - barbers or hair stylists, mechanics to change the oil in our car or make repairs, doctors or nurses in urgent care centers to treat us or our loved ones, and retail salespeople to help us select or purchase a product.

Whenever you employ people in these ways, you probably want at least three things:

  1. customer service that is good enough that you’ll want to continue doing business with them.
  2. affordable prices.
  3. high-quality services or products.   

These are the same three goals that every business sets out to accomplish:

  1. attract new customers and keep existing ones.
  2. increase productivity and reduce costs, in order to make sufficient profit while offering competitive prices.
  3. continuously improve quality, since customer expectations continuously rise.

Each time a hiring decision maker meets and interviews you, reads your resume or cover letter, or reviews what you’ve written on an application form, they’re asking themselves, "How will you help me achieve one or more of these goals?"

The following list provides a sampling of specific ways you might be able to contribute to an employer's success in these three areas. Think of ways you have delivered results in these areas in the past, and how you could deliver them in the future. See Things Employers Care About.

What Matters to Hiring Decision-Makers

In addition to the business priorities listed above, each person involved in the hiring process also has individual needs that are at least as important to them as the business issues.

At some point during the hiring process, you should let hiring decision-makers know the answer to each of the following questions is "Yes!"

  • Will you reduce the number and severity of hassles I must deal with? Will you avoid being the reason that I lose sleep at night, or worry about problems at work over the weekend? 
  • Will you be reliable? Will you show up to work on time every day, in a condition to do your best? If you have an unexpected emergency or illness that prevents you from coming in, will you let me know as soon as possible?
  • Will you be a team player? Will you treat coworkers, customers and the public fairly and with respect? I don’t want to hire someone who will be the cause of friction, disruption, discrimination or sexual harassment charges, customer complaints, or ethical issues.
  • Are you willing and able to learn about the culture in our workplace, and then do your best to fit in?   
  • Will you make me look good in front of my boss? Are you willing and able to understand how the success of our team or department is judged, and then help me and your coworkers achieve success?