One of the questions I have been asked most often over the years is ‘how can I get the employer to give me this job?’. I usually rephrase this question slightly to ask ‘how can I convince an employer I’m right for this job?’ Because that’s really what all applicants need to do: to help the employer connect the list of things they are looking for with the applicant in front of them. When you start thinking like that, you’ll have a better idea of how to approach your CV, application letter and interview.
So here’s a new way of looking at how employers make sense the huge amount of different evidence you present them with. It’s best summarised as IQ, PQ and EQ.
1. IQ. We’re all familiar with this idea: IQ literally means intelligence quotient, or the numerical value of your intellectual ability. But in the context of applying for work, it means the ways you have demonstrated your intelligence through your academic achievements. It also means how you demonstrate and use your broader intelligence, in other words your ability to apply what you know or have learned both to familiar situations and unfamiliar ones.
2. PQ. So if, IQ refers to academic or intellectual intelligence, PQ in this context is the practical quotient, or your practical, skill-based intelligence. This is the long list of transferable skills such as team-working, negotiation, problem-solving, critical thinking, evaluation, leadership and so on. Again, like IQ, you are looking to show the evidence of your ability in these areas, so as your degree shows your academic ability, so your extra-curricular or workplace activities will show a lot of your PQ. It’s also about understanding how these skills work together with each other, how they complement each other, and when you can use them to greatest effect. (By the way, if you look for PQ on the internet, you might find most of the references are to political intelligence – that’s not the definition in this context though).
3. EQ. You’ve probably heard about emotional intelligence, and there’s lots of research about the importance of having this to get on well with others and have a successful and happy life. In the context of applying for jobs though, it specifically refers to self-awareness. How well can you explain the choices you have made? How easily can you help someone else understand why you chose and enjoyed your degree or your extra-curricular activities? How well do you know yourself and your motivations? Being able to share those answers with an employer will help them see that in a workplace setting you will be aware enough of yourself to understand the impact of choices you make and things you do. It will help them see how you will make sense of experiences you will have working for them. It will help them identify that difficult and intangible element, “fit”.
So whether you’re writing a CV, cover letter or going to an interview, keep these areas of focus in mind. You aren’t going to write a letter under the headings of IQ, PQ and EQ. But when you’re putting your applications together, you are going to ask yourself:
- Have I shown my intelligence, and how I’ve used it?
- Have I demonstrated the range of my relevant skills and why they are important to this employer?
- Have I shown why I made the choices I made?
Dr Kate Daubney is the Director of Careers and Employability. To book an appointment with a Career Consultant to discuss job applications or planning your career, email firstname.lastname@example.org or drop into our Parkgate Road or Warrington centres.