In the month after my graduation, I went for job interview at 4 different companies, but none called me back. After the 4th job interview, my mild optimism had turned itself into depression.
What if no one would hire me? What if the three years I spent completing my degree in English literature is all in vain? What if I have to permanently move into my parents’ basement because I could not find a job to support myself?! I wondered sleeplessly, night after night in the bedroom in my parents’ basement!
At one point, I even wondered if I was aiming too high by applying only to the most renowned companies with strict hiring processes. But my educational background and the experiences I had gathered as an intern at a well-established newspaper, actually did qualify me for a position of a senior content strategist.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that it wasn’t actually what was in my resume that did not impress them, but the way I had presented myself. I still cringe when I think back at the way I had answered most of the questions they had asked me.
I distinctly remember staring unblinkingly at one interviewer when he had asked me what my weakness is and how I would turn it into a strength in my role as a content strategist. I could not think of a clever answer for the life of me! Eventually, in order to break the awkward pause, the interviewer had to ask me another question, to which I had answered more self-destructively.
It wasn’t my set of skills, my qualifications, the university I studied in, the course units I had taken or the lack of professional experience I had. It was simply the way I had answered the questions they had asked me.
I admit that I am not much of a good speaker, although I am heck of a good writer. But I knew if I wanted to get the job at the next place, I had to get myself to prove to the interviewers that I am the model candidate for the role, and that everything on that resume is true, including the fact that my communication skills are top notch!
In the middle of one sleepless night, I took out my laptop and decided to do a personal SWOT analysis (as recommended by my father). With the help of an online SWOT analysis tool, I started listing down my Strengths and Weaknesses and the Opportunities and Threats I would be encountering in the role of a content strategist.
I didn’t have to think too hard for this one.
I had decided to apply for the job of a content strategist because I believed I was good at it. I have my internship, the degree and the multiple journalism course units I had followed to show for it!
But then I wondered; would these qualifications be merely enough to qualify me for the position. Not to mention that they are already listed in the resume!
I delved in deeper. What about my qualities – qualities that proved I would fit in great with the team and the culture of the company?
As awkward as it was, I started to deconstruct my own personality.
- I was certainly determined and assertive; in any job role these two qualities are absolutely necessary.
- I was empathetic; this would certainly help me understand other people and their situation better, hence fitting in with the team quickly and effectively.
I always took pride in these qualities I possessed myself, and I had the feeling that mentioning them in the interview would help me stand out from the rest of the candidates.
Concentrating on my Strengths was simply an elevating experience!
By the time I started to fill out the weaknesses column, I was feeling empowered! After a brief midnight snack, I started to contemplate what my weaknesses were. I was obviously not that good at passing my job interviews! I put it down in bold letters to keep myself in check.
I had the tendency to overthink to the point it would stress me out. In that moment I realized what I should have said to the interviewer who had questioned me about my greatest weakness – although I have a tendency to overthink (which may affect decision making), it actually pushes me to be extra cautious, hence minimizing the chances I would rush into any rash decisions or make errors.
I also gave too much attention to detail which may affect my performance, but on the plus side, giving too much attention to detail as a writer is actually a good way to ensure that I create high quality content.
Evaluating my weaknesses thus with the help of a SWOT analysis, actually helped me find ways to turn my weaknesses into strengths. If anyone is to ask me about my weaknesses again, I could literally give her an earful!
I realized that it was also important to remember not to talk about my weaknesses that would imply I might fail to perform at my job, like the fact that I was a little short-tempered!
Filling this column was a tough one. What really were the opportunities of being the content strategist of this company, which I can take advantage of?
From a personal point of view, it gave me the opportunity to build my career, gain experience and grow as a content strategist. Plus, I could get a good monthly income and afford my own apartment!
But I knew that these personal gains would hardly impress an employer. So, I rechecked the job description of the 5th place that I was supposed to go to an interview for.
It was a well-renowned company and targeted both local as well as international markets. I thought for a few minutes; as the content strategist there, I could have the opportunity to communicate with international markets or people belonging to different cultures. This would allow me to learn new things, like the specific needs of different target markets.
Likewise, I would also get a chance to build my own brand as well, especially as a writer. Through guest posts promoting the company’s product, I could expand my network!
Before I knew it, the opportunity field had filled itself!
Before I started listing the threats, I Googled what kind of factors belonged under the field of Threats in a personal SWOT analysis. According to the research I did, threats could be defined as factors or conditions that I could not eliminate, but could minimize.
If threats are conditions I could not have control over, then the advancing technology and industry changes could be the biggest threats for me as a content strategist. For example, constantly changing Google algorithms could affect the content I create; in order to avoid this, I should keep myself updated on Google algorithms at all times!
Once I had completed my personal SWOT analysis, I felt my optimism raising its head again. I felt confident because I knew what my strengths were and how to use them to eliminate my weaknesses. I had developed a sense as to how to make the best out of those situations caused by external factors such as opportunities and threats, although they were not under my control.
When I walked into the room, I did not feel the usual anxiety I had felt during the last few interviews that I had messed up. Although I did not stick to the SWOT analysis as a rigid script, it helped me answer all the questions the interviewer asked with confidence, something I lacked during the last few interviews.
And I got the job!
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not of The HR Gazette or its team members.