How to Wow a Prospective Employer with Your Potential

David Shindler is a coach, facilitator, speaker, and blogger on jobs, careers and employability development. He is also the author of “Learning to Leap, a Guide to Being More Employable”.

One of the frustrations job seekers identify is the limitations of the resume and job interview for putting across who they really are. They may lack experience and their qualifications are no longer enough to convince employers. Many employers are risk-averse, particularly in tough economic times, and go for the tried and tested candidate. How do you get across your potential and persuade an employer you are a better bet?

Potential is the possibility of being or becoming something. Wowing a prospective employer means painting a compelling picture of your future performance. Showing or articulating the green shoots of your capability. Giving evidence that you have in place the building blocks to make that possibility a reality. But, first, it pays to start with yourself.

Do you believe you have potential?

Too often, we sabotage or limit our potential by putting up mental barriers (“I’ll never get a job like that because other people are better than me”). According to Tim Gallwey, these interferences stifle performance (Performance = Potential minus Interference). Focus on what you can control (yourself) and work on removing what holds you back. Remember, the opposite of potential is impotence. Your aim is to understand and release what makes you potent. Let potential empower you.

How might an employer see potential?

If they see you as lacking the experience or skills to do a specific job now, your challenge is to excite them enough to want to invest in you in return for paying it forward. Inspire an employer with a glimpse of what you could become and the difference you will make.

Here are 7 ways to wow a prospective employer with your potential.

1. Learnability

Show an employer how you learn. Your learnability is some core mindsets and attributes for being employable and convincing employers of your potential. They include Humility, Adaptability, Curiosity and Know-how. It involves a daily commitment to becoming more than you were, letting go of what no longer serves you, and staying up-to-date in a rapidly changing context. Be honest with yourself and the employer about where you need to develop. Give examples of your commitment to self-development and lifelong learning.

2. Your motivating conditions

When applying for jobs or wishing to grow in your career, create or surround yourself with the motivating conditions for your potential to bear fruit. Look for a “collaborative rather than individualistic culture in which good “apprenticeship” is the norm, where mentoring is a routine and where peer reviews and critiques are the norm” Meena Thuraisingham

Ask these questions to show an employer that personal and professional development is important to you and you will both reap the benefits. For example, what development opportunities will the employer provide? Is the work culture encouraging, supportive, and stretching so you learn on-the-job? Will your manager invest time in your development and coach you? Do you get a mentor? You want reassurance that this employer is the right place for your potential to blossom.

3. Helping others

Get the balance right between focusing on you and how you help others. Realising your potential is about giving, not taking. 

“The only true way for any of us to grow, to truly fulfill our full potential, is when we work to help others do the same.” Simon Sinek

4. Prioritize your attitude

Employers want a can-do attitude. Technical skills can often be trained once you are on the job. Give employers examples of getting things done, going the extra mile, bouncing back from failure. Big up your major accomplishments.

When applying for jobs or wishing to grow in your career, create or surround yourself with the motivating conditions for your potential to bear fruit.


5. Culture

Traditionally, employers seek new hires to fit in with the culture of the organization. You can differentiate yourself with your potential to add something to the culture, either as the grit in the oyster or bringing something new. For example, I work with an organization that is trying to shift the culture by deploying people globally with a different kind of leadership and approach to risk than currently exists. Can you present yourself now as the employee of the future and help the culture evolve?

6. Be creative

Seek new or different situations to bring out your potential. Show a prospective employer by doing the actual job as a temp, maternity cover, intern etc. Get creative and volunteer for a start-up. You are more than a resume. Instead, send a video of yourself outlining your interest, knowledge of the business, and what you could add to the employer. Show warmth, a bit of personality, and excite them so they want to put your potential to the test. Go from being 2D to 4D in HD.

7. Negotiate

One way of showing your potential is to create your own role with an employer. Look for opportunities before, during and after a job interview. For example, a coaching client took on a maternity cover role and the employer soon realized they added something they didn’t have but needed. So, they created a new role for her at the end of the temporary contract.

Another client was struggling during an interview to convince about her technical ability. However, through discussion, she spotted a team working problem that were a better fit for her skills and experience. She focused on her strengths and got the job.

It doesn’t matter at what stage of life you are, we all have more potential. The bottom line for wowing a prospective employer with your potential is getting them to believe in you. And you can only do that if you believe in yourself. What a powerful combination!

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