Have you been struggling with how to present yourself to employers through your job search documents and interview skills? Are you feeling uncertain of how to accurately demonstrate your worth as an employee? Do you find yourself consistently applying to jobs which aren’t challenging enough, present few growth opportunities and don’t offer substantial pay upgrades? You’re not alone.

It’s quite common for job candidates to struggle with underselling their own skills, achievements and qualifications. There are a wide variety of reasons why we choose to behave this way when searching for jobs, and unfortunately these tendencies can greatly slow down and inhibit the process. However, by taking a few steps to correct our actions, we can avoid this negative habit, present ourselves at our fullest capacity and embark upon a more fruitful job search.

Focus Your Resume on Portraying A Successful Worker

For many job candidates, creating a resume is all about demonstrating your qualifications and skill set in a way that corresponds with a specific type of job. However, in today’s job market, being “qualified” for a position is almost never enough on its own to get hired. In fact, almost every open job position will receive numerous candidates who possess well beyond the necessary qualifications and skills. Although it is important to specify that you are in fact qualified for your desired jobs, doing this alone will not sufficiently sell your abilities.

Ultimately, your qualifications alone will not indicate exactly what you were able to achieve in your career, and they will not demonstrate whether you succeeded or failed. When reviewing any application that solely focuses on qualifications, hiring managers and recruiters will simply infer whether or not you were a high-performing worker. More often than not, they will assume that you aren’t worth consideration for hire.

To demonstrate an example, if you are impacted by other factors that might influence a hiring decision such as employment gaps, short tenures or ageist bias, then listing your qualifications alone certainly won’t stop any hiring manager from assuming you haven’t succeeded in your career. Although assumptions of this nature often aren’t fair or accurate, they can be easily prevented by taking the proper steps in updating your resume.

In order to win the attention of hiring managers and recruiters, you must utilize your resume to present something special and valuable to your prospective employers. Rather than focusing solely on your qualifications and skills, you must portray the exact ways in which you harnessed these assets to become successful and consistently achieve goals. What were some unique ways in which you solved problems and improved operational efficiency? Were there any specific achievements that could demonstrate your ability to facilitate positive outcomes in a work environment? How did you exceed the expectations of your managers and colleagues?

The answers to questions such as these are what hiring managers and recruiters want to hear from you. To accurately promote your skills, draw intrigue and create the impression that you are valuable, you must summarize your work experience in a way that clearly displays your successes and accomplishments. It often helps to include specific work achievements in a “Highlights” section to make the information easily visible for the person reviewing your document. Above all, focus on presenting your ability to be successful and make positive, tangible contributions to an organization.

Avoid Downplaying Your Experience or Quoting Salaries That Are Too Low

Before submitting a job application, you should always conduct plenty of research to determine what the appropriate salary market range is for your desired position. This way, if the employer asks for your desired salary, you can offer an informed figure which is appropriate to both current market value and your experience level. Ideally, you should feel confident enough to request a higher salary in an interview if the proposed compensation feels too low for what you could offer to an organization.

However, if you have routinely been quoting salaries which are too low for your desired roles, it’s possible that this is a reason employers are overlooking your application. Many low-quoting candidates justify their reasoning through the belief that offering employers a bargain will increase their level of consideration for hire. However, a bargain that’s too good to be true will open the door to skepticism and can deter employers for many reasons.

Often, a low salary quote will lead hiring managers and recruiters to question your ability and character. They will wonder why you are asking for so little when other comparable candidates are being paid so much more. Once again, this discrepancy can lead to a plethora of negative assumptions on the prospective employer’s end. Conversely, if they decide to take advantage of the bargain and hire you at a salary far lower than market value, they will risk the possibility of taking on an employee who begins feeling unsatisfied, disengaged and undervalued. When an employee’s skill set is priced below their actual worth, it will ultimately lead to increased turnover

Another reason candidates will voluntarily undersell themselves is out of concern that they are overqualified for a particular position. Many of these candidates reason that by undervaluing their own abilities, they can actually be seen as a more desirable candidate for that particular role. Again, doing this will never work to your advantage. Do not concern yourself endlessly with removing skills or qualifications from your resume that go beyond the scope of your desired jobs, because these pieces of information will always be worthwhile.

A more effective approach is to simply include your full range of qualifications and skills, while also providing some type of sincere explanation as to why you’re interested in the particular job. These explanations can take the form of a sentence in your resume’s overview, or in the form of a well-written cover letter or email message to the hiring manager or recruiter. When employers observe a candidate who demonstrates a genuine and well-founded interest, they will be far less likely to view you as overqualified or unfit for their role.

Practice Your Interview Skills and Build Confidence

Interviews are the final test of your preparedness and suitability for a specific job. If your interview presence lacks the type of confidence, enthusiasm and determination that other candidates bring to the table, you can easily mislead an employer into thinking you aren’t a good fit for the position. Any candidate who appears incredibly strong and successful on paper is capable of leaving a completely different impression when spoken to by an interviewer.

If you have had interviews that have been embarrassing or gone horribly wrong, fear not. For many applicants, being interviewed is actually very difficult, and it’s important to remember that your interview performance has nothing to do with your overall worth or merit as a worker. Even the most ideal candidates for jobs can make big mistakes in interviews. Like most skills, being interviewed requires consistent practice, preparation and dedication to master.

When walking into an interview room, you need to believe in your worth as an employee, understand your most valuable attributes and ultimately be convinced of all the reasons that you deserve the job. To help alleviate some of the pressure, it might help think of the interview as a normal, honest conversation between two people, rather than a test of your worth. This can help you focus simultaneously on conveying professionalism and formality while remaining comfortable with the interviewer and able to communicate succinctly.

The overall outcome will be dependent on how well you can build rapport with the interviewer, as well as how much you can effectively communicate with them about your capabilities for success as an employee. With each interview question, provide a comprehensive and honest answer that best showcases your abilities and strengths. Don’t be afraid to elaborate and be highly descriptive when responding to questions; this will help communicate your enthusiasm and determination.

In the interview process, it’s important to always remain confident in what you could bring to the table for a potential employer. In order to achieve successful results, you must develop a firm belief in your capacity to contribute meaningfully to the organization you’re interviewing for.

With these suggestions in hand, we hope to have helped reinvigorate your confidence in navigating the job search process. Although finding the right job can often be incredibly challenging, it is incredibly important to never compromise for less than what you deserve. By creating a strong resume, knowing your overall worth and working to develop effective interview strategies, you can avoid underselling your skills and qualifications and set off on a better path to a new job of your choice.

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