Selling Yourself in a Tight Economy

by Vincent, Mary Jeanne Saturday, April 17, 2010
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There is no doubt that today’s job search environment is very competitive. There is a lot of talk about a “jobless” recovery which seems like an oxymoron to me.

Regardless of the talk, companies are hiring. Yes, the pace is slow and the interview process longer. Nevertheless, several of my clients have received offers in the last few months. Things are looking up.

Having said that, I attribute much of their success to a willingness to go above and beyond what would have been the norm in a booming economy.

Here are three suggestions which are guaranteed to get you the right kind of attention in today’s job market.

Create a niche.

You can’t be all things to all people.

There is no such thing as a good generic résumé.

A one-size-fits-all cover letter doesn’t. Know what you have to sell. Identify three areas of your expertise that are absolutely essential for the kind of work you want to do.

You absolutely must know what you are selling. Those skills should be displayed front and center on your résumé and easily communicated verbally during casual conversations and in your 30-second elevator speech.

Sell me, don’t just tell me. Delve into your memory for specific examples — success stories which demonstrate those three skills in action.

Talk with former co-workers and colleagues who can help you remember and add specific details to your stories. Imagine each story as a movie in your mind when you tell it. When you share the story it should paint a vivid portrait of your abilities.

Recently, I was helping a new client prepare for an important interview. The more we explored what she had done in her previous job the better able she was to remember specific examples of when she made important contributions.

At the end of two hours she had remembered at least seven relevant successes that she could share during her upcoming interview. Her comment at the end of the interview practice was, “I am so much more confident about being able to communicate my expertise now that I’ve identified specific stories that demonstrate the skills this position requires.”
My sense is that she will be one of the few candidates invited back for a second interview.

Connect your experience to the job you are applying for. Your skills and success stories must be relevant to your intended audience.

A couple of weeks ago I attended a business mixer. One employer sought me out to tell me of her recent experience of trying to hire someone. Because of the economy she received more that the usual number of inquires.

She was stunned that with so many people in the job market, so few applicants bothered to put together an effective résumé. Many more didn’t bother to write a cover letter, or if they did, to explain how their experience was relevant to the position.

In many respects this made her job easier as she quickly eliminated those that didn’t make an effort to connect the dots, which would have been as simple as checking the organization’s website. Oh well, one smart job hunter did get the job! All of this proves that even in this economy, a little extra effort goes a long way!