What are some steps job seekers can take to boost their confidence, so they’re prepared to interview and move into the careers they want and deserve?
(Reprint from Kathleen Furore at Tribune Content).
A job search can be challenging for anyone. And it can be an even greater challenge for people coming from tough personal and/or socioeconomic circumstances. Often, they feel less-than-confident in their ability not only to land a job but also to thrive once they’re there and end up removing themselves from the hiring pipeline before an interview ever takes place.
First, anyone in that situation should realize their feelings are completely normal — and probably more common than they imagine.
Connections, for example, play an important role in the job search, particularly in the area of mentorship opportunities. Unfortunately, connections aren’t always easy to come by for people coming from challenging backgrounds.
“Underrepresented talent is particularly susceptible because their role models may not be the savvy mentors with a broad and deep social network who can offer key advice on what it takes to land the job a candidate truly wants,” explains Andrea Guendelman, founder and CEO of Speak_ a company that offers computer science professionals free training to help sharpen their soft and hard skills.
But lack of access shouldn’t prevent people without it to throw in the towel and give up on the job search.
“Underrepresented talent needs to have the basic self-belief that ‘I’ve got this.’ Maybe they aren’t quite ready for the job as described, but they can get there,” Guendelman stresses. “Not having as many resources as others can make one resourceful — and being resourceful is the greatest asset of them all. It is an asset for the individual. It is an asset for whoever hires the individual.”
“As a job seeker coming from tough personal or socioeconomic circumstances, it’s normal to feel like you’re playing catch up with those from more affluent backgrounds,” says Mike Grossman, CEO of GoodHire. “These individuals may have more immediate access to resources and opportunities, making your job search feel like a fruitless affair.”
So, how candidates can reframe their thinking, so they realize they are qualified to compete with other job candidates?
Look at the requirements listed in job postings as “wishes” more than requirements. That advice comes from Austen Allred, co-founder and CEO of BloomTech. “Don’t self-select yourself out of applying for a job just because you can’t check all those boxes,” Allred says. “If you meet half the ‘requirements’ and have the skills needed to get the job done, apply.”
Seek ways to improve your personal brand and add value to your candidacy. There are many ways to do this, the experts note.
Grossman says it means “developing a strong social media presence, refining your resume, and practicing your interview etiquette so that you conduct yourself well when it counts.”
Guendelman suggests taking time to get additional training, which “can help people learn and feel confident in their essential skills while providing proof to employers that they have what it takes.”
Doing any or all of those things, no matter your personal circumstances, “shows that you’re invested in your own success and you’re prepared to persevere,” Grossman explains. “These are exactly the attributes that make for a strong and desirable candidate, so have confidence in what you bring to the table as an individual.”
Being prepared when the time for an interview arrives is also key.
“Many underrepresented candidates are rejected at the very beginning of the interview process because they’re not prepared,” Guendelman says.
She and Allred offer these tips:
Be curious. “Every interviewer asks, ‘What questions do you have for us?’ Demonstrate your interest by asking about the company’s employee programs and culture,” Guendelman suggests. “In cases when the recruitment process involves a problem-solving exercise, dig into the unknown factors. Ask questions for clarification when you don’t understand or know something. Curiosity is a trait that employers want and find attractive. They are asking themselves, ‘Is this person a self-starter and a problem solver?’ Curiosity goes hand in hand with resourcefulness.”
Acknowledge skills you lack. “When you’re in a job interview and you’re asked about a skill you don’t have, acknowledge you don’t have that experience yet. Then explain how you would go about gaining that skill,” Allred says. “Be specific: What resources have you used in the past to upskill? What steps would you take to grow in the role? Showing your thought process and growth mindset may be even more appealing to a hiring manager than having all the ‘right’ skills from the get-go.”
Embrace what makes you different. Increasing diversity in the workplace is a goal many companies are striving to achieve. “That means that whatever sets you apart — whether it’s your race, sexual orientation, economic background, education level, or experience with the criminal justice system — gives you a unique point of view that employers want and need,” Allred concludes. “Overcoming personal challenges helped you develop the kind of grit that can enable you to thrive in your next job. Employers would be lucky to benefit from your creativity, determination, and resourcefulness.”
If you are a candidate interested in getting prepared to pass the interview, join Speak_ here:
If your company is looking to expand its reach to recruit talent from diverse backgrounds, book a call: