The Job-Hunter’s Guide To Selling Yourself Effectively

Americans value modesty. This is a fact. Whether you’re a Rockefeller, Rothschild or Kennedy, the expectation is that modesty will prevail, and you’ll present yourself as a humble person, never flaunting your fame and fortune.

And whether or not it behooves us to be humble in any given situation, we nonetheless comply. In fact, in resume after resume, interview after interview, I’ve noticed that, regardless of our backgrounds, we generally share one thing: Most of us don’t know how to sell ourselves or understand the importance of doing so.

Meet M. Screener, hiring manager. M. Screener is inundated with resumes. As he sorts through a sky-high pile, he discovers that most are badly written and chock-full of typos and fragments. Many are disorganized, forcing him to dig for information he’d prefer to see spelled out on page one, in a professional summary or statement of qualifications. Overall, the majority of these resumes manage only to elicit a “So what?” from him. They read like dull job descriptions and fail to give M. Screener any idea how well the individual performed in his or her prior roles.

M. Screener wants to see impact. He wants to see added value. He wants to know, right off the bat, “What will you do for the company?” And, when he invites you to an interview, he wants you to tell him what sets you apart from someone else he might hire. Furthermore, he wants proof.

Proof comes in the form of a powerful resume, which clearly highlights your best achievements, credentials and the value you added through your previous work efforts. It also comes in the form of a brief yet strong and confident pitch about who you are and why you would be an asset to an organization. This pitch should come through consistently in your cover letters, interview statements and messages you convey while networking.

Want to know how you can confidently convey your value and effectively sell your worth? These four steps will help you win over prospective employers and gain the career opportunity you want.

1. Do your research.

Good salespeople follow this golden rule: Before you can effectively sell anything, you must know the customer and what he or she wants. Researching Internet postings and print ads for the job you seek will provide a wealth of clues about what employers in your industry want. Known by resume writers as “keywords,” these clues can help you tailor your resume, as well as your presentation, to the specific requirements of the industry, level and role you intend to fill.

2. Uncover your “Wow” factors and incorporate them into your resume.

Reflect on your academic and professional career and ask yourself: What specific accomplishments am I most proud of? Whether it’s a fellowship you received, a significant challenge you overcame at work or a degree you worked hard to earn while working full time, it had better be reflected in your resume.

Whenever I work with someone who wants to create or improve a resume, I ask that question. And every time, we never fail to uncover some not-so-insignificant gold nugget that had been omitted or forgotten.

If you have difficulty identifying a specific achievement or admirable quality, reach out to others. Colleagues or former employers will gladly provide feedback and proof of your excellence. You also may want to review past performance appraisals for common themes or achievements you may have overlooked.

3. Make your key strengths easy to find.

Once you have a clear picture of what you offer — those things that are sure to excite a prospective employer — make sure they are easy to locate on your resume. Craft a powerful professional summary, qualifications list or strengths section that captures your most admirable qualities and achievements. Be sure to also draft a cover-letter template that succinctly highlights these key traits and credentials.

4. Now, get out there and sell.

Crafting a perfect resume is a great first step to marketing yourself, but if you’re simply posting it online and waiting for someone to find you, you’re taking a passive approach to your job search. While it’s always wise to use such job-hunting tactics, you must augment them with an active approach.

First, take a look into your job-hunting toolbox. Get rid of modesty and humbleness. Instead, pack in a powerful pitch — one that succinctly states who you are and what you offer. Then, get going on your sales campaign. Identify and reach out to organizations that meet your criteria as ideal employers. Be alert to those that would benefit from your expertise. Then, be sure they know about the value you can bring.

By Susan Eckert

Career, job, Jobsearch