Monthly Archives: February 2014

How to Sell Yourself in a Job Application

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to Sell Yourself in a Job ApplicationSelling yourself and your expertise effectively is an important part of the overall job search process. Whether it’s in your initial communications (Resume, Selection Criteria and/or Cover Letter), or during the interview process, articulating and communicating your unique value will help get you noticed. This month, we look at some strategies to assist you in selling yourself to a potential employer.

We often tell our clients that job applications are like sales proposals. For many people not working in traditional sales or marketing focused careers, this can sound daunting. However, with a little bit of effort it isn’t that difficult. We often tell our clients to put themselves in the shoes of the recruiter. Take a good look at your application and ask yourself (as the recruiter) ‘What’s in it for me?’ Your job application should immediately highlight you as someone who can add value in the role.

To help understand the concept, let’s follow six fundamental sales steps:

1.  Introduce Yourself – in any sales situation, you need to introduce yourself, give a reason why you’re there and explain why what you’re selling will benefit the buyer. Same goes for your job application. Start with a good strong introduction or ‘Career Profile’ that demonstrates your skills and past experience and how that will add value. This section is usually fairly standard, however consider customising the content to address any specific individual job requirements. Similar to any sales situation, make sure your introduction is enthusiastic, passionate, easy to understand, concise and engaging – and clearly demonstrates ‘What’s in it for me?’

2.  Ask the Buyer What They Want – any good sales person will tell you the key to success is finding (and addressing) the buyer’s ‘pain points’. This means researching their issues and giving them what they need to address those issues. Same goes for your job application. Study the job ad and/or job description in detail and make a list of all the key points. At this point, it can often help to study other similar job ads. If a contact person is listed, call them – ask questions to uncover the pain points and ask them outright what they are looking for.

3.  Show Your Value – if a buyer can’t see the value in a product or service, they simply won’t buy it. Same goes for your job application. If you don’t give the recruiter what they want, you won’t succeed. Your application needs to demonstrate to the recruiter how you are going to add value. This process is simple once you know their pain points because you can clearly demonstrate how you have the best solution. Again, customisation is important so spend time ensuring the content in your documents targets and addresses as many of the requirements as you can. Use past successes and achievements to show how you’ve ‘added value’ in the past.

4.  Present Your Offer – successful sales proposals are clear and concise with relevant content that doesn’t ramble and is presented in a visually appealing way – using white space, headings and bullet points to highlight and present information so it’s easy to digest. Same goes for your job application. While we never recommend highly formatted resumes with tables and pictures, we do use some fabulous templates that really cut through. Never under-estimate the value of information that is easy to read and well formatted.

5.  Provide a Call to Action – any basic sales training will tell you that this is often the most common mistake poor sales people make. Not actually asking for the sale. The buyer needs guidance and they need to know that you want their sale. Same goes for your job application. Make sure you tell the recruiter that you are keen to talk further about the value you can add. This means asking for an interview and providing contact details (phone and email) that are clearly visible on all parts of your application. It also means answering your phone to unidentified numbers and providing a voicemail facility. Making it easy for the recruiter to contact you is a key part of the process.

6.  Stop and Listen – an important part of any sales conversation is listening to the buyer. This last point relates specifically to the interview if you’re successful in progressing to that stage. Communication is key, however if you don’t listen to your buyer, you don’t get the opportunity to present your offer in the best possible way to meet their needs. Same goes for an interview. Listen to the recruiter and answer their questions as best you can. Also ask questions to demonstrate you are keen. We have written several articles relating to succeeding in interviews that you can read here.

Success in sales is based on giving the buyer what they need. Likewise, when you’re searching for a new job – do some research, know your customer, and give them what they need in order to achieve success.

Are you a natural sales person? Or do you, like many people, find it hard to sell your skills and expertise effectively? Would you like some assistance from a professional Resume Writer to develop a job application that clearly and honestly articulates the value you could bring in a role? If so, please see our Resume, Cover Letter and Selection Criteria Writing services here.

New Year, New You

Article by Belinda Fuller

New Year New YouIt’s hard to believe that we are already one month into the New Year. How are you going with your new year’s resolutions? Did you make any career related resolutions or goals for 2014? If you are planning to secure a new job this year, have you started strategising? With unemployment set to rise even further this year, a structured approach will help you achieve your goals.

If you are anything like me, the New Year always represents new starts. I clean out my pantry, tidy my office, cull my wardrobe, think about new projects I’d like to work on, ramp up my exercise, and generally spring clean my life to start the year afresh. I think most people start to feel jaded towards the end of the year and if you were lucky enough to have a break over the Christmas/New Year period without too much running around, you may have been thinking about making some changes in your career for 2014.

If so, you need to start planning in order to make that happen. In the November newsletter, we provided six tips to take charge of your career in 2014 (you can read that article here) so this month we’d like to focus on the ‘change’ and ‘research’ parts of those tips. Making resolutions is a great first step, however now you need to strategise to ensure you achieve success. Follow these 3 simple steps to get started:

1.    Ask Yourself Why You Want to Change Jobs? – start by making a list of all the pros and cons of your current role and write them all down. Writing it down really helps. As a chronic list writer my entire life (anything and everything goes on a list), surprisingly, I was never an advocate of writing down my goals, or strategising in written format when trying to solve a problem. However in recent years, I have done a complete about face. Writing down what’s in your mind really does help clarify and further develop it. Often, when you undertake this exercise, you actually find that there are more pros than cons. Perhaps you have been focusing on the negatives, when in fact there are more positives that you should be enjoying. Or perhaps it just confirms what you originally thought – that there are in fact more negatives! Either way, this process helps you move forward with your goal.

2.    Find the Ideal Job – sounds difficult right but bear with me. This is meant to be a simple exercise and something I ask all my clients to do. I get them to show me their perfect job. Many people simply cannot articulate this when asked. If you are not sure which career path to take, you may need to seek the advice of a qualified Career Counsellor. However, if you have a good idea where your strengths lie, simply jump online and start researching. Go to Seek, MyCareer or any one of the industry specific job search sites and look for your perfect job. Ideally, you’ll want to find more than one. Don’t worry about geography at this stage, just find that perfect role. Study the ads and/or job descriptions and write down all the key skills, experience, education, qualifications and training that is required. Highlight where you are lacking at the moment.

3.    Make a Plan – based on your research, you should now be able to write a list of areas where you are lacking. This forms the basis of your ‘things to do to get to where you need to be’. At this stage, it may seem daunting, but again just stay with me, by writing down all the areas you are lacking and identifying what you need to do to develop that skill or area of expertise, you will be starting to develop your plan. The path to developing new skills and expertise could be as easy as taking on new responsibilities and tasks in your current role to starting some form of study. It also includes other tasks such as completing short courses, networking both inside and outside of your company, offering to help a colleague with a project, or doing some volunteer work.

By taking action today to start to develop your plan, you are ensuring your path to a new you.

Did you make some career focused New Year’s resolutions? Do you have a plan to help you achieve those goals or would you like help making your career dreams a reality? If so, please see our Career Consulting, Resume, Cover Letter and Selection Criteria Writing services here.

Understanding Personality Assessments

Article by Belinda Fuller

Understanding Personality Assessments - MBTI AssessmentAs one of the most widely used personality assessments in the world, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) assessment tool is based on more than 50 years research. Through a series of questions, the MBTI tool assesses individual personality preferences and assigns one of 16 different personality types based on four scales which can be helpful in guiding training, personal development and career choices.

Just how can the knowledge of your personality type help with your career development? By taking the MBTI assessment, your personality preferences are assessed based on the theory that everyone has a primary mode of operation within four major categories:

1. Energy Flow – where you are either Extraverted (energised by the outside world of people, activity and things) or Introverted (energised by the inner world of thoughts, feelings and reflections).

2. How we gather information – where you are either Sensing (focused on information gathered through the five senses) or Intuitive (you look for patterns, meanings and possibilities in the information you receive).

3. Decision Making – where you either have a preference for Thinking (making decisions based on objective facts and principles) or Feeling (making decisions based on personal values and feelings).

4. Basic day-to-day lifestyle preferences – where you are either Judging (preferring a more planned and structured lifestyle) or Perceiving (preferring a more flexible and spontaneous lifestyle).

We all use one mode of operation within each category more easily, naturally and frequently than the other so we are categorised as “preferring” that function. The combination of our four preferences then defines our personality type. Through these combinations, there are 16 different personality categories.

Armed with the information, you can learn a lot about your natural strengths and weaknesses; as well as understanding your personality type’s preferred work tasks, ideal work environment, leadership style, learning style, communication method, and problem solving approach. Through identifying the areas that you value, you can start to develop strategies that may lead to improving your overall job satisfaction. By understanding your defined personality type, you can also start to analyse the most and least popular career choices for that type and hopefully pick a career that will reward and fulfil you well into the future.

While personality profiling via the MBTI tool or other assessment tools should not be used as the only guide to your perfect job, it can help. However, as with all theories, there are exceptions! Some people don’t fall strictly into one specific category; and as we develop, grow and have exposure to a range of situations, we learn to function outside of our ‘natural’ tendencies.

By taking the MBTI assessment, you can gain an insight into the careers that your personality type is most suited to, as well as looking at your current skills, qualifications and areas of expertise and matching those to some potential areas of interest. If nothing else, a better understanding of your personality may just contribute to helping you increase your job satisfaction in your current role.

Are you interested in understanding your personality type? If so, please see our Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) Assessment service.