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Tie-Breakers For Job Hunters
Copyright © 2006-2007 Charles Dominick, SPSM

Like it or not, there are four harsh facts about employment in today's business world: (1) no job is secure, (2) there are only a few good jobs out there, (3) there is a lot of competition for those few jobs, and (4) there will be even fewer jobs in the future.

So even if you have no immediate plans to look for work, it makes sense to be prepared to do so. Consider it a "career contingency plan" if you will. Your career contingency plan is something that you work on while you are gainfully employed so that you will stand out from the competition if, at some point, you need or want to be employed elsewhere later.

In a lot of cases, there may be two or more candidates for a job that appear to the hiring manager to be equally attractive. In these cases, hiring managers often look for "tie breakers" or small, but important, ways that one candidate differentiates him or herself. Here are a few tips for developing tiebreakers for yourself right now:

Have a results-oriented resume. Your resume is not a job description – it is a sales brochure for your services. The best sales brochures demonstrate a benefit of one's services to the "buyer" and/or show how the services can solve the buyer's problem. Therefore, you need to keep this "sales brochure" philosophy in mind when writing your resume.

Specifically, you need to discuss not what you did, but how you benefited your prior employers. "Decreased inventory by $100 million thereby saving the company $25 million in annual carrying costs" is way more impressive than "Was responsible for $200 million in inventory." The latter gives no indication of how well you performed or the results you are capable of producing for a new company. The more measurable the results, the better!

Have a career portfolio. If the resume is like a sales brochure, the interview is like a court case. And how do you win a court case? By having compelling evidence! Many professionals have gotten an edge in the interview process by preparing a portfolio containing documentation of their work and their achievements. This portfolio should contain documents that showcase your accomplishments, such as positive performance appraisals, award certificates, company newsletters that mention your role in a successful program, and even "ataboy" letters from managers or coworkers.

Another element for your portfolio might be non-confidential examples of your work such as analyses, reports, or presentations that resulted in a measurable benefit to your prior employer. Because it is an important aspect of this suggestion, I'll repeat it: make sure your examples are non- confidential! While a portfolio of accomplishments can work in your favor, if you come across as someone who doesn't safeguard proprietary information, your portfolio can have an effect that is the opposite of what you've intended.

Prepare Stories For The Interview. Today, behavioral interviewing is the standard method for separating top candidates from everyone else. Behavioral interviewing is designed to identify how you behave in certain situations. Behavioral interview questions often start out with the phrase "Tell me about a time..."

Some examples of behavioral interview questions may include: "Tell me about a time when you had to compromise with a coworker" or "Tell me about a time when you were faced with an unrealistic deadline" or "Tell me about a time when you had to help someone." You need to be prepared with stories – real life things that you did.

Also keep in mind that you don't have to be asked a question to share a story. Think about situations during your career that you have - once again – delivered measurable results to your employer. At least share one such story in every interview – you don't have to be the subject of a behavioral interview to demonstrate that your behavior leads to success!

Demonstrate How You Meet Third Party Standards. Often several candidates have impressive resumes and have succeeded at the interview process. At this point, hiring managers will compare the variations between candidates' qualifications. Having a certification can be the deciding factor. A certification demonstrates that you have met third party standards for proficiency in a subject.

Anyone can say that they are skilled at something, but the top candidates will be able to prove it. Over and over, I've seen certifications become among the most important tie-breakers. A certified candidate usually beats a seemingly equally qualified but non-certified candidate most of the time. And if all finalists are certified, the candidate with the most certifications will often win.

About The Author:
Charles Dominick, SPSM is the president of Next Level Purchasing, Inc. Next Level Purchasing helps purchasing professionals have rewarding careers by providing the globally-recognized SPSM Certification and dedicating a page of its Web site to job postings. To browse the dozens of high-paying jobs available, please visit


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