A LOT of people come to me looking for help finding a job. They either contact me with a hidden agenda of wanting me to give them a job (fat chance), tell them about some incredible job somewhere for which they’d be perfect (fairly chubby chance), or help them craft their resume, LinkedIn profile or cover letter (be happy to).
What I’ve noticed over the years, aside from the fact that a lot people have a LOT of nerve, is that most of these poor job seekers are going about it all wrong. They are under the impression that what they need to do is contact lots of people and tell them all about how great they are and how fast they type and how well they did in school and use the words managed, and utilized and organized, and eventually someone will contact them and gush, “When can you start?”
Well, I’ve got news for these folks. There are, roughly speaking, 4 billion katrillion people out there who can manage and organize and utilize and do exactly what you did. Nobody cares. The best solution to the problem of getting a job is 50% stop thinking about yourself, and 50% really thinking about yourself. Here’s what you do:
Think of Yourself as a Bar of Soap. Essentially, you need someone to buy Product You. You’ll need to find out what a potential employer might need in a bar of soap aka Product You (we’ll get to that in a minute) and what distinguishes you from all the other bars of soap out there.
You need to figure out your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). What makes you different, what do you bring to the table that separates you from the pack? Maybe you’re bilingual, maybe you combine an inventive mind with a passion for measurable results, maybe you are an expert at X or are passionate about Y, but whatever it is, you need to make that clear in all your marketing stuff.
Have Marketing Stuff. Make what makes you uniquely awesome apparent in all the places employers and others might become aware of you. This includes your resume, your LinkedIn profile, your business card, and any other platforms you use to communicate who you are and what you bring to the table. All these “touchpoints” are opportunities to market yourself and should be treated as such. For example, your LinkedIn profile is not a resume. It’s a place to succinctly and clearly convey what’s special and unique and useful about Product You. It’s more elevator pitch than book report. When people hire me to augment their LinkedIn pages, we explore how to put their best foot forward and what language and what aspects of their skill set and experience will resonate best with employers.
Think “How Can I Help?” Most of the people who come to me for help in getting a job talk endlessly about themselves and what they need when their focus should be on what a potential employer might need. Research what they’re about, what they’re doing now, what they’ll be doing in the future. Instead of talking about me-me-me, ask questions so you can know what the employer needs and think about how you can make contributions concerning both their opportunities and challenges. How, specifically, can you be an asset? How can you help solve their problems, help save money, improve service, expand their customer base, convey their messaging, help with employees, the environment, their pro-social initiatives, etc.?
Getting back to the soap analogy, you don’t know whether to talk about your antibacterial superpowers, moisturizing properties, organic ingredients or your fresh lemon-y smell if you don’t know what the customer wants in a soap. Find out what your prospective employer needs so you can make your marketing messages relevant and powerful
Think Like a Consultant. Don’t just think like an employee looking to get the best benefits package and flexible hours. Think about how to improve the impact, performance, effectiveness and value of the position. Let’s say you’re applying to be a cashier. If you were a consultant, what could the cashier do to make waiting in line better for both the store and the customer? How might the cashier improve customer service, increase sales, or save the store money?
Don’t Be Generic. Now that you’ve given some thought to why you are the bar of soap they need, communicate your USP and how it can be of value. If you’re applying for that cashier job, your cover letter might explain (briefly) how your experience, focus on customer satisfaction and attention to detail are well-suited to the position and would benefit the store. (The letter’s job is to snag the interview, and once you’re there you can share some concrete ways you’d rock the job if hired.)
Like most things in life, you get when you give. When you concentrate on how you can uniquely be of service, you’re much more likely to demonstrate your value than if you just keep regurgitating the same old tired clichés about how you’re a “people person” or an “effective manager.” (As opposed to all those applicants who’ve explained how they don’t get along with people and manage ineffectively.)
Understand your brand, and how it can make a difference, and you’ll be in that new job daydreaming about retirement in no time!