What Skills Are Required? OK. So, now you know what you want to do. I'm guessing you're either in a similar position or very familiar with the skill requirements of the position you're seeking.
But, are you really sure? Position descriptions vary employer by employer. You should be familiar with what employers are saying they want not only so that you'll be sure to address how you meet employers' requirements in your resume, but so you can use this list to anticipate questions you may be asked during job interviews.
The best way to find out what employers are looking for is to check out their postings. Go out to the job boards and see if you can find job postings for the position you're seeking. Really pull the postings apart — what does the employer say they need versus what they'd like to have, but are willing to go without or maybe for which they are willing to train?
Also look at jobs posted on the employers' websites. Not all of an employer's jobs get posted to a job board somewhere. Usually there's a fee involved and companies don't budget to post everything on boards. They're hoping that people interested in working for them will come directly to their website. So, look at the career pages on the employer's websites as well. Pull those postings apart, too. And, while you're there, jot down a few notes about the employer. What information do they provide to you on their career pages about what it's like to work for them? If they're a public company, what do their current press releases say? What kind of projects have they posted to their site to brag about? Overall, what does it look like they're working on? What challenges might they be facing that you can infer from the data you've gathered? Maybe you can help them find the solutions they're seeking. Maybe you did something similar in a previous job. If you did, make a mental note to make sure you've got that on your resume.
There are additional job description resources you can access at your local library or via the Internet.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes the Occupational Outlook Handbook annually. You can search the handbook online at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/. It's also behind the reference desk of most public libraries. In it you'll find education needed for a position, earnings, expected job prospects, what workers do on the job and working conditions. For example, as of 2016, if you pull up the information on PR Specialists, among other things you'll learn:
What the 2014 media pay is (the BLS is always running a year or so behind on these stats)
Number of jobs available
Changes in the job outlook
What the BLS thinks PR Specialists do
What the work environment might be like
How to become PR Specialist
What some similar occupations might e
Links to other places with additional information
In Washington state, WOIS publishes similar information, but oriented toward Washington-based employment. You can find it at http://www.wois.org and at Washington state library reference desks. I'm sure other states have similar publications, but you'll have to check with your local library to find out what those are.
If you search your library's on-line catalog, you'll find several more popular publications about job descriptions. In addition, you might come up with some surprising industry-oriented reports. For example, looking in the Seattle public library catalog, I found public reports that included job descriptions and salaries for the City of Seattle, Tacoma City Light, Puget Sound Power and Light and Bonneville Power.
Assignment #2 Get out a pad of paper. Draw a vertical line down the middle of the first sheet of paper, creating two columns. Entitle the left column "Them" and entitle the right column "Me." "Them," of course, refers to the employers you'd like to consider hiring you. Entitle this sheet "Required." Tear it off and set it aside.
Draw another vertical line down the middle of the next sheet of paper. Use the same column headings, but entitle this sheet "Desired." Tear it off and set it aside.
From the top of your head, write down all the skills you believe are required to do the job you're seeking. Put these in the "Them" column on your "Required" sheet. Do the same thing for skills you think employers would like a person to have for this position, but don't require. Jot these down on your "Desired" sheet.
Research similar jobs and add more skills to your lists. If the same skill appears in one place as required and in another place as desired, write it down under both lists. Count the number of times you see a skill appearing in either list. For example, if you came up with "media relations" off the top of your head and wrote it on your required list and it appeared in 5 other places as a requirement, put a 6 next to it on the required list. If "media relations" appeared in 10 places as something that would be nice to have, but is not required, jot a 10 next to it on the desired list.
Review your lists.
If a skill appears on more than one list, compare the numbers you wrote down next to it on each list. Erase the skill from the list having the fewer numbers. If a skill shows up only once on each list, you'll need to decide where to keep the skill. The employer's choice always wins. If one of those list appearances was from the top of your head or came out of a BLS job description and the other was from an employer's posting; the employer wins. Only keep the listing generated by an employer's posting. If neither entry came from an employer's posting, see if you can get an idea how similar skills have been ranked and keep that skill on the same list.
Are there skills you put on your top-of-the-head list that don't show up in any of the postings you read or other research that you did? Put a question mark beside those. Sometimes employers might not agree with your assessment of what's necessary to do the job. Those might be skills you don't want to emphasize on your resume.
Are there skills that come up over and over? Circle the number jotted next to them in red. The more times you've seen a skill listed, the more clearly you'll want to make sure that skill can be found on your resume, provided you possess that skill. If you don't possess it, start making a plan for how you're going to get it. And, be prepared to discuss that plan during interviews if you get the opportunity.
While doing your employer research, on a separate stack of sheets, jot down notes on what else you've read about your potential employers.
Please note.....it's not always easy to figure out what's required versus just desired. Employers don't always make this clear in a job posting.
For example, a job posting for a mechanical engineer that I found on Monster lists the following as requirements:
Bachelors Degree in Mechanical Engineering.
5 years minimum experience working in industry.
Familiar with finite element analysis.
Experience with tension membrane structures desired.
Hands on mechanical experience a plus.
Needs familiarity with engineering documentation methods, research, and report writing techniques.
From this list, it appears as if what's really required to get this job is a Bachelor's in ME, at least 5 years of industry experience (the employer's industry is assumed, not just mechanical engineering in general), and some familiarity with finite element analysis, engineering documentation methods, research and report writing techniques. What's desired, but not required would be experience with tension membrane structures and hands-on mechanical experience.
From the recruiter's perspective? If I can find a candidate that's got all of the requirements and at least one of the skills on the desired list, I've got someone very interesting and will most likely take them seriously as a candidate. Chances are pretty good that they'll be the person getting the job. Think of this kind of like buying a car. If I compare two cars of the same make and model, both most likely have what I absolutely need — tires, brakes that work, a functioning steering wheel, etc. But, one might have a lot more of the options that I'd like to have. If the two cars have exactly the same pricing and look very similar, guess which one I'm going to buy?
Also, from the candidate's perspective? Skills listed as desirable often can clue you in to what you'll really be doing in the advertised job. Sometimes employers forget to put in much of a job description, focusing instead on simply providing a job title and a list of requirements. Reading between the lines looking at the skills that are just desired might help you figure out if you'd be doing something you like in this position.
Why do I suggest you take this step in your resume development? It's all part of knowing what your goal is and helping yourself keep on track to getting the position you truly want. It's also step #1 of matching you to what employers are seeking. The recruiters who will be reviewing your resume will be doing something similar on their end — trying to match your skills to their requirements. If you make sure they'll easily find the information they're looking for on your resume, you just might get a call.
BTW, things will get significantly less tedious from her on out. ;)