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For most of us, our mothers were — or still are — our biggest cheerleaders.

When we were young they wiped away the tears of disappointment or frustration.  Later in life, in moments of doubt or apprehension, they reminded us of all our great qualities and why we are so good, so wonderful.  They refueled our gas tanks with confidence.  For many of us, our mothers were, quite literally, a big part of our success.

mamaHowever, when looking for a job, moms aren’t allowed in the interview with you.

Not a week goes by that I don’t see one or two qualified, seemingly accomplished candidates struggle with selling themselves — telling their story in such a way that they make it easier for the client to make a decision on who to hire.  Instead of nailing the answer, they come across as wandering around in a fog, unable to recall a great experience or accomplishment.  So many candidates have excellent qualities, skills and accomplishments that are so relevant to the needs of the client but fail to summon the information.  They miss the moment of opportunity.

Working for a top tier health system and being promoted once or twice is no longer enough to win the day.  Candidates have to sell themselves, to show that they are THE one the employer should select.  They must close the deal.  Simply telling people where you worked, what you did, and that you were successful and have a great leadership style is, I am sorry to report, NOT enough.  Candidates absolutely, without fail, must take the initiative and demonstrate how their experience and accomplishments connect with the needs of the client.  Candidates must demonstrate in definitive terms how their successes will help the employer solve their problem(s).

Yes, this is a frequent message in this blog.  For those who got the point in a previous posts, I tip my hat.  Know this, if you get it you are one of the very, very few in the job market who have and that gives you a powerful differentiator for the dozens of other candidates you will compete against.

Employers are increasingly more discerning in how they evaluate and select potential managers and executives.  As our information economy continues to evolve, I predict their approaches will only become more sophisticated and more demanding.  So, if you want to succeed, you must change the way you approach searching for a new job.

Some job postings give such sparse information that candidates are forced to emphasize only their quantifiable successes during the initial phase of the recruiting process.  However, as the employer shares more information, and as the candidates glean more from their own research, they should begin targeting their skills and accomplishments that are most relevant to the employer.  The more candidates learn about the job, the more they should focus, and that may mean submitting a revised resume prior to a site interview to help the interviewer connect the dots between what they are looking for, what they need, and what the candidate has accomplished.

Yes, this is a lot more work for the candidate.  But stop, look around.  The job marketplace is very crowded these days with some very bright people.  As companies respond to weakening global economic conditions, looking for, and finding, the right job will only become more challenging.

Do not make this too complicated.  Just apply some basic marketing principles and then tell your story in a way that will give the employer a reason to be impressed.  Speak in the language of “this is what I have accomplished,” not “this is where I have been.”

Mom is a great resource, but she can’t be in the interview with you.