Matching Needs: The Key Skill For Your Next Career Move

SEPTEMBER 05, 2014
Erin Albert, MBA, PharmD, JD
Ready to find a new career opportunity? Matching your qualifications to the employer's needs could help you land that new dream job.
Not that long ago, I read an alarming statistic. It stated that if you remained in your current job for more than two years, you could earn less than 50% over your professional lifetime by staying vs. jumping ship and moving on to another company. The rationale behind it was that an average raise for a top performer in a company is 3% of base salary, and bosses are usually constricted to raises based upon your original base salary. If you go to another company, however, you can start out day one with a higher base salary.

Second, in the new economic turbulence, we all know that businesses shutter overnight. Industries can crumble. Pink slips and hiring freezes are still common, even for hospitals, pharmacies, and the pharmaceutical industry, and even though unemployment seems to be trending downward.

Insulating Against the New Reality
Fear not! Even though the news may be harrowing, a key skill I coach mentees and pharmacy students on all the time when looking for a new job is: matching needs. You have to make it as easy as possible for the computer or HR professional that is screening candidates to understand how qualified you really are for that new job you seek.

Start with your cover letter, although you can do it in a custom-tailored resume or even verbally in an interview. I most frequently recommend this approach for a cover letter, because it is usually the first document a computer or HR person screens. Here’s how to match needs if you find that next amazing job you want to apply for, but need to get your resume at the top of the stack:
  1. Print out the job description of the new job you want.
  2. Hi-light all actions/skills/requirements in the description with a hi-lighter.
  3. Start a cover letter. On the left side of the cover letter bold and underline “Your Requirements,” and on the right side on the same line, bold and underline “My Qualifications.”
  4. Then, literally, start matching needs. Show, either in bulleted or paragraph form, how your qualifications meet the job description’s requirements, preferably in the same order as the job description itself.
  5. Last, describe how your qualifications are going to help the position you are applying for (and repeat steps 3-5 in a resume and in an interview).

Keep it Real
Once you have taken this inventory of matching up your qualifications to their job requirements, be honest with yourself; do you qualify? If you don’t, figure out where your weaknesses are and see if you can enhance your skills in your current job, so when you are ready to apply for that dream job, you’ve got the qualifications covered.

If you match all the requirements, you can also tailor your resume to the requirements and skills necessary for the next amazing job. Apply. After all, the best time to look for a new job is when you do not need one, and if nothing else, you may proceed to an interview where you practice your interviewing skills—which is matching needs all over again, just verbally through storytelling of your personal experiences. You could actually land an amazing job you never knew you even needed.

The Interview: The 90-Day Penultimate Plan
Nirvana, or the final step for candidates is to not only discuss how they qualify per the requirements, but also how their qualifications are going to supplement the new job. If you do interview, continue to match needs by walking in with a one-page 90-day plan in print ready to share with the hiring manager on what you think you should do in the first 90 days on the job.

The 90-day plan should generally cover learning items such as:
  • The products and services
  • Players
  • Competitors
  • Geography or landscape
  • Tools
  • Communication channels
  • Performance metrics of the job

Pretend you already have the job, then act like it at the interview by sharing your idea of the ideal first 90 days. The final step is accepting the offer.

Does this system work for everyone, every time, for every job? Of course not. However, it is a good first step to your next amazing job. Match up the needs at a minimum to assess and understand what skills you still need to work on, and at a maximum to earn your next offer letter.


Erin Albert is a pharmacist, author, entrepreneur, lawyer, and associate professor at Butler University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. For more on her writing, go to www.erinalbert.com.


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