HRBoss Blog

Tips for the Job Seeker: Part 1: Preparation is the Key to Success

Companies meticulously write employment ads to match a specific job description. Essentially, the company states the “specific attributes” a person must possess in order to qualify for each “specific job”. Using this information correctly, you can prove that you are a qualified candidate.

Following is a step-by-step technique to improve your job-seeking success. This technique will help you to prove that you are a perfect fit for the job.

Step 1:
Carefully review the job ad, job details, or job description. Next, underline or highlight each key attribute. Employers tend to write the most important attributes first, so pay careful attention to the first items. Example: Attributes you may find in a job description include independent role, drafting written materials, coordinating events, maintaining client and media contacts, managing projects.

Step 2:
Create a form (See Table A below). In the first column, list the key attributes that you identified in Step 2. In the second column, list evidence of each attribute. Evidence examples may include: certifications, degrees, or training; a description of a project or procedure including “what, when, and where” detail; samples of your work (if you use documents, remove all confidential information and replace with fictitious information–remember, the purpose of the example is to show your skill not reveal personal information). The table you created, as well as the work samples, will help you in the interview. The interviewers will most likely form questions specific to the job description. Using examples below will be quite powerful.

Step 1:  Attribute

Step 2:  Evidence

Managing Projects

Gantt or other Project Management Chart, Detailed Description of the Project, Project Management Certification or Coursework, etc.

Advanced Level Spreadsheet Skills using Excel Software

Sample of an Excel Spreadsheet with confidential information removed, Detailed Description of a Spreadsheet Used on a Specific Project, Software Certification or  Software Coursework, etc.

Step 3:
Adjust your Curriculum Vitae (or Resume) and all of your application materials to include the attributes from the first column of Step 1 (It will be important to alter your application materials for each job that you seek because each will have unique attributes). Companies that scan in documents use software to search for key words that match the position they are trying to fill.  This more attribute “matches”, the more likely it will be that you will be at the top of the list.   Companies that use a manual procedure for review of potential candidates also look for the key attribute matches. No matter the process for reviewing employment materials, this procedure works perfectly.

About the Author
By Marilee A. Feldman, M.E. (Board Member of
Marilee is currently a Professor/Coordinator in the Business and Information Technology Department at Kirkwood Community College, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, USA. She gained her master's degree in Education and Leadership at Iowa State University and her bachelor's degree in Business Education from the University of Northern Iowa, USA. For over two decades, Marilee has created, developed, and taught courses in human resouces, business communications, and human relations for both the credit and business training branches of the college. Marilee's human resources training includes behavior-based job interview techniques as well as the design and construction of evaluation instruments that meet US legal hiring criteria.