Kool Derby

Earlier in the week, I had the privilege of speaking with a talent manager (Dan) who spends most of his day looking to match job seekers with the requirements specified by hiring managers. Prior to this position, Dan worked at Oracle for more than a decade, and his IT experience is extensive.

As a professor, I often reach out to these individuals so that I can share the knowledge with my students. The goal is to provide guidance on what it takes to excel in today’s workforce. Perhaps more important, the plan is to ensure they have the necessary skills and experience on their resumes.

Here are the three must-haves recommended by Dan:

#1: Get the experience.

It’s obvious that actual, hands-on work experience is necessary. When building your resume, you need to include the applicable work that you’ve done. If you are in the HR world, you need to document the roles and responsibilities that match the employment offer. Employers want to know how you made the department and organization better. In other words, think big picture when composing the resume.

I understand that job seekers might lack the necessary experience. If this is the case, look for opportunities to assume work that is aligned with your career goals. Your transition might take a bit longer than your anticipated, but getting the experience is critical.

#2: Earn your professional certifications.

Dan mentioned to me, “Jimmie, I was looking at an employment website and noticed that PMPs are earning an average of $97,000.” I knew this figure was correct because I share it in project management courses, but it was nice to hear that Dan was also aware of it.

The bottom line is that professional certifications can make a huge difference in your career. The Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification from the Project Management Institute (PMI) is just one of many that is in high demand. For those in IT security, I recommend the Certified Information System Security Professional (CISSP). There are other entry-level certs, and you should give them a try.

#3: Learn the soft skills. 

While having technical knowledge about your work is important, you must also learn the soft skills. Dan mentioned the following: critical thinking, teamwork, and leadership. In other words, you must have the ability to work within a team setting and be receptive to constant change.

When Dan first called, I was standing in line at my bank waiting to see a teller. However, I quickly determined that he was imparting valuable information. Thus, I grabbed a couple of deposit slips, and walked over to a quiet area. On the back of those bank artifacts, I took down the notes that I’m sharing with you today. While I lost my place in line, I’m glad I did it.

The fact is that the workforce is way too competitive today. Hundreds and thousands of individuals apply for the best jobs. To have a chance, you must document our work experience, professional certifications, and soft skills. By doing so, the chances of getting an interview with the hiring manager will increase exponentially.