Five Secrets of the Hire – Part 2 – Problem Anticipation, Identification, Prevention, and Solution

Martin Yate CPC
NY Times Bestseller
Professional Resume Services

There is only one reason any job is ever added to the payroll of a company, and that is to help the company make money. Jobs do this by bringing money into the company, saving money, improving productivity in some way, or through some combination of these activities.
 The Second Secret: Every Job Is about Problem Anticipation, Identification, Prevention, and Solution 

This mandate of contributing to the profitability of the company in some small way is at the heart of every job. Take a few moments to determine whether your job is chiefly concerned with generating revenue, protecting assets, improving productivity in some way, or is perhaps a combination of these imperatives.
The day-to-day realities of your working week—the real meat of your work—involve:

  • Identifying and preventing problems that limit your contributions to the bottom line. 
  • Creating timely and efficient solutions to the problems that cannot be avoided. 

So, regardless of profession or title, at some level we are all hired to do the same job: We are all problem solvers, paid to anticipate, prevent, and solve problems within our areas of expertise. This applies to any job, at any level, in any organization, and in every profession.

Your challenge at a job interview is to show how your efforts support these goals. You can start work on this by creating a comprehensive list of the typical problems you tackle on a daily basis. Then for each item on your list, identify:

  1. The ways you execute your responsibilities every day to prevent this problem from arising in the first place. 
  2. Early warning signals you look for and the actions you take to nip these problems in the bud, before they get any worse. 
  3. How you tackle the full-blown problems that arrive on your desk every day anyway. 

Repeat this exercise for every item on your list, then look at your work and see if you can identify certain methodologies common to all of them.

The next step is to review what you have learned about the challenges of your job and how you handle them, and tweak them just a little further so that you can use them in conversation at job interviews. Here’s an approach you can use to develop examples of your problem-solving skills in action, and the resulting solutions and their benefits:

  1. State the problem. What was the situation? Was it typical of your job, or had something unusual occurred? 
  2. What was the cause of the problem? Isolate relevant background information. 
  3. What was the desired outcome? 
  4. What skills did you bring into play to tackle this problem? 
  5. Recall the solution. How did things turn out in the end? Who benefited and how? 
  6. If you can, quantify the solution in terms of money earned, money saved, or time saved or productivity increased. Specify your role as either a team member or a lone gun. 

The second secret of the hire tells you that whatever your job title, you are hired to anticipate, prevent, and solve problems within your areas of expertise. Your task at a job interview is to show how your efforts support these goals. That’s exactly what these exercises help you do.

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Martin Yate
Copyright 2013
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Previously posted in this series: 

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