Career Tips

You “Can Do the Job”…So What?

By Lisa Parker

Care to hear a line I hear frequently? “I don’t understand companies! They aren’t giving me a chance even though I know I’ve proven I can do the jobs I’ve applied for!”

My response to that is, “so what?” Great, you’ve proven you can do the job. It’s highly likely other candidates have, too. Making it into the “can do the job” pile of applications isn’t enough. You’ve still got to differentiate yourself from others who meet the basic capability requirements. What have you done to emerge as the “can do this job better than our other options” candidate? Above that, what have you done to inspire potential employers to view you as the best thing since sliced bread versus the best of whoever happened to apply for the job? Keep in mind, being the best of the bunch doesn’t matter if the bunch as a whole was a disappointment.

It’s unrealistic and unfair to think companies are going to make a choice solely by someone being able to do a job as it’s listed and that they’ll pick the best of what comes their way even if it’s not really what they want. Why? Because no one really makes choices that way when it comes to something important. Take buying a car or a home. As buyers we list off general features that are important to us. We note our requirements and preferences. Think of how many options we often have to weigh before we can pick the one that’s right for us. Though car dealers and realtors present us with a host of possibilities that “would do,” we don’t pull the trigger until the option that excites us comes our way. Sometimes the decision is immediate and other times there is a long series of starts and stops until the winner surfaces.

In a nutshell, quit expecting employers to approach a decision of how they want to spend tens of thousands of dollars with less consideration than you would. Remind yourself it’s normal to lose out to personal preference. Challenge yourself to look for the chemistry, on top of the capability fit, in the opportunities you chase.


Lisa joined the Michigan State University Alumni Association as Director of Alumni Career & Business Services on May 1, 2012. Her primary focus is to develop effective networking and resource channels for experienced alumni interested in professional development and job search strategy assistance. Additionally, Lisa works directly with corporate, education, foundation and government partners seeking to attract qualified talent, retain and develop good employees, and establish collaborative relationships in line with their established goals and objectives.

With 15+ years’ experience in third party recruiting, Lisa offers a balanced understanding of both employee and employer perspectives.

Lisa is a firm advocate of the networking process and considers it a vital element in a successful job search. In addition to helping job seekers develop and best utilize networking contacts, Lisa shares her knowledge and insight-gained aiding corporate recruiting efforts-to give Spartan job seekers an edge in terms of lead sourcing, resume presentation and interview strategy.

Among Lisa’s notable accomplishments: Prima Civitas Foundation Scholar; Michigan Works Association Volunteer of the Year; Pink Slip Mid Michigan Planning Committee; career content blogger.


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