Selling 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.