No one wants to sell themselves during a job search. After all, you aren’t a widget. But the reality is when you are interviewing you have to sell yourself. You may not like that terminology and you can choose to call it whatever you want: stand out from the crowd, make an impression, give it your all. Whatever you call it, learning how to sell yourself during a job search is the difference in landing an awesome job quickly and muddling through a job search for months.
Make Yourself Relevant
To make a splash during a job search you have to be a memorable candidate. If your resume reads like a 1998 help wanted ad it’s time for a reboot. Your resume should highlight your skills and abilities from an accomplishment based perspective. Reading a task list of your day to day responsibilities will not influence a decision maker to interview you, much less hire you.
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Take time to target your cover letter and resume to each position you apply to. Your resume and cover letter should represent your brand and easily convey how your abilities line up with the needs of the position you are applying to. Having a one size fits all resume is the same as wearing your dress shoes to run a marathon; you need the right shoe for the job.
Your resume and cover letter should also speak to current hiring trends, resume trends and industry keywords. A Shakespearean resume won’t work. The reader needs to be able to easily understand your accomplishments through the use of current business terminology.
The market is tight and compensation requirements will weigh on a hiring manager’s ultimate decision. However, the method used to make their decision is likely different than you imagine.
Candidates often assume they should aim low when talking about salary expectations. They believe if they are a value play they can land the job and then work to increase their income through bonuses and raises. This thought process is extremely flawed.
Just as a hiring manager will walk away from a candidate who shoots for an extremely high salary, they will also walk away from someone who offers to work at a lower salary. Both extremes offer the opportunity for a hiring manager to question your abilities and understanding of the role. Too high and they feel you’re arrogant and out of touch. Too low and it’s thought that you’re insecure and not ready for the level of role you’re pursuing.
Instead of trying to figure out a hiring managers motives, be true to yourself. Research current salary levels and understand where you fit in the mix. Things like an MBA, CPA or CIA add value, but not to the tune of thousands of dollars. Your overall experience, abilities and time in your field are where the dollars add up.
Be realistic about your value and stand firm in your approach. When asked about compensation, state your anticipated range and then turn the question back on the interviewer with a statement such as “I am sure you have a range in mind for this position, do my compensation needs align?” Few people turn a compensation question back to an interviewer and you’ll likely find they will eagerly move on from the topic.
Understand And Define Your Value Proposition
What is your value proposition? Meaning, how do you differentiate yourself from other candidates? Frankly, the candidates you will be up against will likely be at a similar career and compensation level. So how will you define why you are the best candidate?
Take time to understand the needs of the position. What can you bring to the table to immediately exceed the needs of the role and ultimately help the organization? Focus on those points in your cover letter, resume, and interview.
Be confident in your abilities and be prepared to cite examples of your accomplishments. It isn’t enough to simply state you’ve done this, that and something else. You need to back up your accomplishments by explaining how you reached success in the past and how you will replicate that success in your new role.