Job seekers: How to make it easy for your next boss to hire you

Job seekers: How to make it easy for your next boss to hire you

When people like me hire people like you there are two main criteria I always keep in mind.

1. The first one is I want, no, need you to be good at your job. That part goes without saying. I need you to be able to do things you say you can do.
2. The second thing that’s on my mind when I’m hiring, I’m somewhat ashamed to admit, is that I don’t want to stuff up. And sometimes, honestly, this one is more important than the first one. They’re related, of course, but mostly I just don’t want to look like an idiot by hiring someone who turns out to be rubbish.

Sometimes not getting it wrong is more important than getting it right.

It’s really pretty terrible to admit I’m more motivated by not getting my hire wrong than I am by getting it right, but it’s true. And that’s your opportunity. Because if you can find a way to help people like me feel safe and confident hiring you, you’re going to be well on your way to bagging the job.

Find, or invent, a project and prove you can do it.

Obviously your CV, résumé, or portfolio is one part of that. References are another part of it. No newsflash there. But what else can you do to make the decision as risk-free as possible?

How about offering to work on an actual project? Come in for a few days and help out – even if you don’t get paid. Do one of the actual things the job involves to show how well you can do it. You can dramatically reduce the risk involved in hiring you by proving what you can do.

With the last job I had going, I gave the shortlist a small project to work on so I could see what they were capable of. Not all employers are as smart as me though, so if they don’t offer you a project, ask for one.

Don’t tell them, show them.

For that matter, ask them what their biggest concern about hiring you is, and find a way to overcome it. Don’t just talk a good game, play it. Don’t just tell them what you can do, show them. Make it easy for them to imagine having you on the team.

Every job is different, and some of them will be easier than others to find a way to prove yourself. If you’re going for a job as a heart surgeon, you’re unlikely to get a chance to show what you’re made of. But there’s plenty of jobs where you can.

The proof comes before the opportunity.

One mistake I see more than any others out there is the attitude that people think they will prove themselves once they get a job. That given the opportunity, they will produce some truly awesome work. And those people have it the wrong way around. You need to flip that on its head. You need to prove yourself, then you’ll get a job. You need to produce truly awesome work, (even if it’s just for an imaginary client or project), then you’ll get an opportunity.

I can’t say for sure whether the chicken or the egg came first, but I can tell you that the hard work and the proof of what you’re capable of usually comes before the opportunity, not after it.

More reading:

How to learn your way into a new job
Why you should be looking for a boss, not a job
Why does job hunting strike fear into the heart of even the bravest hunters?
6 questions to ensure you get a ‘yes’ at your next interview


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Award-winning Australian recruitment agency, Firebrand Talent, ignites the careers of digital, marketing, creative, communications, advertising, & media talent. If you are looking for your next career move, check out the jobs we currently have on in Sydney & Melbourne.


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