Why Aren’t You Getting Offers On Jobs You Are Qualified For?
It’s a typical story I hear from security industry job seekers all the time. They are applying for a number of jobs and even getting interviews, but often not getting any further than a first interview. Oftentimes they come to the conclusion that they must not have been as qualified as others. Other times, they know you are very well qualified, so they wonder what gives. Why aren’t I getting offers? While there are many factors that influence the hiring decision, it is a fact that sometimes less qualified candidates are chosen over more qualified candidates simply because they have stronger soft skills than their more qualified counterparts. Each company looks for a different mix of skills and experience depending on the business it’s in. It’s no longer enough to be functionally qualified in your particular niche within security. To complement your unique core competencies, there are certain “soft skills” every recruiter, hiring manager and company looks for in a potential new hire.
“Soft skills” refer to a cluster of personal qualities, habits, attitudes and social graces that make someone a good employee “fit” and compatible to work with for that particular organization. Companies value soft skills because research suggests and experience shows that they can be just as important an indicator of job performance as hard skills.
Today’s global, service-oriented economy puts a new premium on people skills and relationship-building – especially within the security arena. Business moves at an increasingly fast pace, so employers place higher value in people who are agile, adaptable and creative at solving problems. Many companies have some ultra-skilled employees. Despite that, their managers are desperate to toss them overboard. Perhaps they are argumentative, unmotivated, or dishonest – or just have terrible attitudes. Regardless, they lack some critical soft skills that are not easy (and often impossible) to train. As a result, more and more employers are willing to train less qualified candidates when they find ones with outstanding soft skills.
All candidates — especially those who aspire to security management positions need to get in touch with their softer sides and take inventory of their soft skills and learn how to highlight them in cover letters and interviews. For example, tell a story of how you successfully handled a crisis or challenge at your current company. Highlighting these key skills will go a long way towards making up for any hard skill deficiencies that you may have.
Some of the most common soft skills employers are looking for and will be assessing you on include:
1. Strong Work Ethic
Are you motivated and dedicated to getting the job done, no matter what? Will you be conscientious and do your best work?
2. Positive Attitude
Are you optimistic and upbeat? Will you generate good energy and good will?
3. Strong Communication Skills
Are you both verbally articulate and a good listener? Can you make your case and express your needs in a way that builds bridges with colleagues, customers and vendors?
4. Time Management Abilities
Do you know how to prioritize tasks and work on a number of different projects at once? Will you use your time on the job wisely?
5. Problem-Solving Skills
Are you resourceful and able to creatively solve problems that will inevitably arise? Will you take ownership of problems or leave them for someone else?
6. Acting as a Team Player
Will you work well in groups and teams? Will you be cooperative and take a leadership role when appropriate?
Do you truly believe you can do the job? Will you project a sense of calm and inspire confidence in others? Will you have the courage to ask questions that need to be asked and to freely contribute your ideas?
8. Ability to Accept and Learn From Criticism
Will you be able to handle criticism? Are you coachable and open to learning and growing as a person and as a security industry professional?
Are you able to adapt to new situations and challenges? Will you embrace change and be open to new ideas?
10. Working Well Under Pressure
Can you handle the stress that accompanies deadlines and crises? Will you be able to do your best work and come through in a pinch?
Remember, whether you are applying for mid-level or a senior management position, it’s your combination of core and soft skills that will set you apart from the crowd!