Becoming a Linchpin: A Job Seekers Guide to being the Ideal Candidate
Written by: Hayley Miller; Editor & Co-Author: Rod McDermott
One of the most common and mystifying questions job seekers ask is “what exactly do companies look for in a candidate?” In recent years, individuals face a challenging and complicated job search path that differs greatly from previous generations. As companies begin to utilize social media as a key recruiting tool, a resume and cover letter are no longer sufficient illustrations of your career experience. Rather than viewing the new job search method as challenging, individuals should strive to capitalize on it. While the search process may have evolved, companies still seek the same characteristics in a candidate and social media allows a platform to express those traits. In order to become the ideal candidate, however, one must first understand what clients seek, particularly in a slow growing economy.
No matter the industry or function of a company, all for-profit organizations have the same goal: improve top line growth and ensure the bottom line is healthy. While the economy has improved since the 2008 crisis, its growth is slow, thus leaving companies with the question of how to develop their business more effectively in a somewhat stagnant financial environment. The solution is fairly straightforward: consistently grow revenue while reducing expenses. Unfortunately, achieving this solution is much easier said than done. This is where you have the opportunity to differentiate yourself as an essential individual to the company.
On his personal blog, Rod McDermott wrote about the importance of being a linchpin in your company. Linchpins bring their best skills to the table and perform at a high level, without ever being asked to do so. Do you perform the minimum of what is requested at your role? Do you accept your responsibilities begrudgingly? Or, do you go above and beyond to solve problems, even if they are not specifically listed in your job description? Companies seek these driven, motivated individuals at all levels who can help the organization achieve growth without the need of handholding. Companies seek linchpins, which is why it’s crucial to present yourself as such not only when you are currently working, but also while in the midst of your job search.
Perhaps the biggest mistake a candidate can make when applying for a position is labeling oneself as a job seeker. As a recruiter, I come across over a hundred profiles per day, yet only a handful stand out to me. Why? These select few candidates choose to position themselves as problem solvers rather than job seekers. Many individuals will merely list job responsibilities on their resume and social media profiles, but what companies find most attractive are stories. Organizations want to see descriptions of how you have improved top line growth and kept a healthy bottom line at previous companies. How have you achieved success in the past? Is it your motivation, professional network, experience? How did you recently reduce expenses and grow revenue? Companies want to hear about these achievements and how you attained them. While this may seem difficult to include all on your resume, you can utilize social media to paint your entire professional story. Social media profiles give you the opportunity to share links to successful projects and elaborate on any experience you could not list in your resume. By presenting yourself on both social media and job applications as a solution maker rather than a job seeker, you become the linchpin that a company desires.
The job search can be stressful and overwhelming, but once you begin to depict yourself as a candidate with a long history of professional success, the path will seem quite straightforward. Results, not responsibilities, are the most important thing to a company. Show off your pro-active problem solving capabilities and your success stories. Demonstrate that you are a linchpin and you will no longer be asking the question “what do companies desire?” but rather, “what do I desire from my next company?” Become a linchpin and the ball is in your court.