Selling Yourself in the Job Market
By Robert Gowin
During our 24 Feb 2016 podcast we covered the topic of “Marketing Your Skills” to the private sector. I thought it might be helpful to share some of the details from that podcast along with tips from my book Master the Transition. When you break it down, you are attempting to sell your skills and experience to a recruiter, a hiring manager, and a company.
We’ve touched many times on the importance of establishing a personal brand. It’s tough in today’s market to set yourself apart from others to land the job of your dreams or even an interview. You have to create a personal brand that places your best foot forward to recruiters on paper, online, and in person. A personal brand is developed by understanding your capabilities, your values, your goals, a focus on the industries and jobs you are interested in, and being honest about your strengths and weaknesses. Your brand includes what you portray on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn, etc.) and you should ensure it is “selling” you in the best light. Recruiters will Google your name and likely find your personal brand. It should be a consistent message about who you are. Create a strong first impression. Your reputation is at stake and it is how you appear to the world. Be clear about who you are and focus on highlighting your strengths. Your goal is to stand out from the crowd and demonstrate your value to any organization.
Take some time to reflect on your past work history and consider your experiences – good and bad. Create a list of those tasks that you enjoyed performing the most while at work, while also listing those that were not as pleasant. Think about what you are looking for in a new career. Where do you want to be in 3-5 years? What are your professional goals? Include interests, aptitudes that were not highlighted in your past work history, hobbies, volunteer activities or other special talents that you could add to a future position. If you are honest with yourself, this list should help you in developing a strong personal profile and self-awareness.
You also need to know how to share your career interests in a concise manner that is often referred to as “the elevator speech” – a brief description of who you are and what you are seeking. It is referred to as an elevator speech because it should be delivered in a short amount of time or in the time it would take to go up/down floors on an elevator. Most people have busy schedules these days and you can create an elevator speech that provides information on your “what”, “where”, and “why”. Often times it is used by salespeople to prospective clients or as a way of communicating with busy executives about projects or initiatives you may be leading. When using the elevator speech to aid you in a career change, think about it as a self-promoting 30-second commercial. Mastering it will take practice. Share it with friends or loved ones so that you’ll get honest feedback as well as plenty of practice. It is a “living” speech/document that is refined the more you use it. Once you are comfortable with your elevator speech, share it with your network so that they can help you find your next career.
In summary, it begins with you knowing more about you – what motivates you. Create a personal brand that helps you market your skills and experiences and provides insight into who you are to potential recruiters. Develop an elevator speech that showcases your personal brand, skills, experiences, and interests. Create a plan of how you can locate the right opportunity in the industry that matches your skills and experience. Lastly, let your network know that you are seeking a career change.