HOW TO: Identify a Job’s Key Deliverables Before You Apply

Recruiters and hiring managers want to hire people who are willing and able to do the job. They want people who deliver. “Deliver what?” you ask. That is what you, the job seeker, have to figure out, and convince the hiring manager you can do, to get a job offer.

Do this to identify a job’s big deliverables:

First, most hiring managers want to hire someone who works well with others. That’s Deliverable #1 in most jobs. Even if they say it isn’t.

Beyond interpersonal skills, I ask hiring managers the following questions in order to understand the big deliverables of any job:

  1. What would your new hire have to accomplish in the first six to 24 months on the job for you to feel as though you had made a great hiring decision?
  2. What’s keeping you up at night? What do want your new hire to contribute to that problem/challenge/opportunity, etc.?
  3. What are your first, second, and third priorities for what you want this person to deliver?

As a job seeker, before you have direct access to the hiring manager, how do you identify a job’s deliverables so that you can address them in your resume?

  1. Get a copy of the full job description before you submit your resume. Reach out to the hiring manager, someone in the department, someone in HR, or anyone you know at the company. Tell them you want to apply for the job and that you want to read the job description first so you can be sure that your resume addresses the hiring manager’s needs.
  2. If the job description does not answer the questions above, then reach out to the person who sent it to you. Ask for 10 minutes of their time. Then ask them to share their insights on the questions listed above. Be sure to stick with your 10 minute limit unless they want to keep talking.
  3. In addition, reach out to your network. Look for people who are doing, or have done, the hiring manager’s job. Ask them for 10 minutes of their time. Then ask them to share their insights on the questions listed above. Be sure to stick with your 10 minute limit unless they want to keep talking.
  4. Finally, ask your question in a relevant LinkedIn group(s) . It might sound like this: I’m applying for an entry-level accounting position with a public accounting firm. I would appreciate any insight that people who have worked in the industry might offer me on what a new accountant has to accomplish for their boss to think that they made a great hire.

That’s it. The more you understand about a job’s deliverables, the better you can prepare yourself to apply, interview, and be reference checked for the job.

I write executive resumes and LinkedIn profiles. Save time. Get hired. Email me at or call me at (208) 721-0131.

Image: Nguyen Vu Hung

Comments 18

  1. Great post and excellent insight. I just recently discovered this site and already find myself becoming a big fan.

  2. Donna-

    What a fantastic set of questions you have come up with here. They will definitely be helpful for my clients as they investigate new career opportunities.

    Thanks so much for sharing.


  3. KD,

    You might consider asking the first question and catching the vibe before asking more. Another alternative is to reserve these questions until after you’ve received an offer.

    Nonetheless, if the hiring manager can’t answer you, I’ve gotta wonder how carefully they’ve thought about their hiring needs.



  4. HR and the hiring manager do not want the call and will tell you it is all in the job postings. Yes you can ask in Linkedin; however unless the person answering you will receive noise and no real answers.

    Now, your first three are part of my standard questions when I am asked if I have any questions. I say 50% of the hiring managers are caught flat footed when those questions are posed. Of those caught flat footed, some are quick to end the interview. So approach those questions with caution.

  5. Glenn,

    I completely agree with Donna and Mark. Internships are not only for students and recent graduates. In fact, internships are a key strategy for those interested in changing careers. However, you’ll probably not want to apply to “traditional” internship programs. Most are structured for students and recent graduates (even though that’s technically you). I would advise you approach a smaller company you admire and propose how you could be the solution to their problem(s) — just like Donna outlines in her fabulous post!

    Hope this helps,

  6. Hi Donna and Glenn,

    Glenn – Congratulations on your reinvention and on finding Donna’s blog. She gives great, up-to-the-minute job search advice.

    It’s not surprising that you’re not finding employers who offer on the job training. That’s been unusual for a long time, and since the recession even more so. So I agree with Donna about arranging your own internship. Another option is to volunteer in a some place where there are others on staff to answer your questions. Both of those options will help you gain experience and will also signal your commitment to employers.

    I think it would also be a good idea to get familiar with issues you might run into as an older career changer. I write a column on that topic at and you can find links to the articles as well as useful resources on the same topic from AARP here:

    Good luck.

  7. Glenn, Donna’s advice is spot on. Internships are NOT just for college students. Employers, especially pro-veteran employers, would be very respectful and supportive of your reinvention when considering you as an intern candidate. And while you want to take every advantage of your military background, as Donna suggests you also want to focus your current resume, career collateral and job search on the transferable (“soft”) skills learned during your military career (leadership, teamwork, just-in-time inventory control, etc.). Finally, you most certainly want to take full advantage of two valuable resources at your disposal: your career center and the Veteran’s Administration. Good luck, Glenn… and please contact me if YouTern may be of assistance — happy to help a fellow veteran!

  8. Glenn,

    Are you applying and not getting interviews or what?

    Without more info, here are a few brainstorming ideas:


    Talk with your professors and placement center about opportunities. Who hires grads from your school — as interns or permanent placements?

    Have a non-military person look at your resume. Does it need to be de-militarized?

    Which companies in your area work on DoD contracts? Have you contacted them?

    Informational interviews with a focus on “how does one get a start in this type of job?”


    P.S. Would love to see ideas from others here as well…

  9. I have recently graduated from an on-line school with a Bachelor’s Degree in Information Technology. I am 64 years old and the only experience I’ve had since high school (1965) has been the Navy (as a Storekeeper) and working in a factory as a Materials Handler. Now I am trying to reinvent myself but I can’t get a job in the IT field because I have no experience. Any jobs that I might apply for require being able to come in off the street and just take over with no one to train me to do the job. I can’t do that. I must have an entry level job that someone will give me some step by step training how to do it! (Fat chance of that) What to do?

  10. Hi Donna,
    Great advice, but most of the people at the target company are not going to give out this information.

  11. Thank you for you comments Ed, Diahann, and Shahrzad.

    I met Ed when he answered (helpfully, of course) a question I asked on LinkedIn. It’s worth its weight in gold as far as I’m concerned!


  12. Hi Donna!

    As always, you share great information and generously provide helpful tips job seekers can put to use right away. Thanks, too, for reminding readers about LinkedIn as a great resource! I was just telling students in my social media workshop about the value of asking such a question on LinkedIn (and about great career professionals like you who are an amazing resource for job seekers, and their own colleagues).


  13. Donna, Great advice for the applicant — especially all the options. Now we have to get the hiring managers and HR on board. It is much more effective, efficient and economical to spend 10 minutes up front then to schedule and conduct an hour face-to-face interview only to determine, no match.

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