The telephone rings. When you answer, a voice says, “I’d like to spend a few minutes talking about the resume you sent to us about an open position we have for which you applied”. Ever wonder what the telephone screener is really looking for that will elevate you to become a top candidate? If this is your dream job, read on.
First of all, the telephone screener has a checklist. It’s made of key elements the hiring manager must have to fill the open job. These elements are usually the first five items on the published position description. Why? Because hiring managers write down the most important elements they are looking for first. These are the “must haves”.
What should you do? Initially you should have written your resume responding to those first five items. If you didn’t, you missed an opportunity. Now that you have another opportunity, focus your experiences and results into those five items during the telephone screen.
Next, the caller needs to know that you’re able to do the job. They will compare the job requirements with both your current and past job experiences, . Why would they want someone who has no experience in the job they need to fill?
What should you do? Be prepared beforehand. Match the requirements of the position description with your own background and resume, then make notes about anything that parallels the two documents: What matches and what doesn’t match. Of the things that match, find experiences that overlap and document the results you were able to achieve. The objective is to translate your current/past experiences with the job to be done. The greater the overlap, the higher your chances. Of the things that don’t match, find experiences that come closest and try to segue them to the open job. It won’t be a perfect fit but you’ll come closer than saying, “I’ve never done that”.
Third, the telephone screener wants to gauge if you’ll fit into their working culture. Most hiring managers want a “team player” that will not be disruptive to the group already in place. They will ask questions about past cultures, do you use the words “team” or “I”, do you define your results as a group effort or did you do it all by yourself, do you work most effectively in a small group, large group or independently?
Lastly, if you’re asked, “Have you ever……..?” or “How would you find a solution to an issue of…….?”, listen very carefully, because the chances are very good that the telephone screener is giving you a real life problem that they are trying to address. They want to know if you have ever solved the issue somewhere else, or if you have the skills and ability to manage a solution.
Remember: It’s your job to match your skills and experiences to the job that’s open, not the telephone screener’s job to adapt the job to fit your experiences.
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