Find Your Inner Salesperson
By Johnna Major, President, Cornerstone HR
The Soft Sell
When it comes to landing that next job, what you are really doing is "selling" yourself and your skills to prospective employers. This can be especially hard for people with modest or reserved personalities. But rest assured that the selling involved in your job search need not resemble that of the stereotypical used car salesman.
Instead, the selling skills needed are often considered "soft sell" and can be as simple as reminding prospective employers about which of your skills match their needs. From networking, to applying for a job, to interviewing, here are a few tips that will help you sell yourself and increase your chances of landing a new job.
Networking is the first and one of the most important steps to finding a new job, but it doesn't mean that you have to show up at every Chamber of Commerce event. The goal of networking is simple: you are trying to let as many people as you can know that you are looking and available for work. For people who aren't naturally outgoing, networking can seem like a scary, three-headed beast. To make it easier, start with the groups and people you already know such as college alumni groups, civic organizations you belong to, your church, your kids' school groups, and friends and family.
Remember, networking is about the "soft sell." You are simply letting people know that you are looking for work, as opposed to pushing them to help you find a job. It's okay for these conversations to be a bit social and relaxed, but don't lose sight of what you want to accomplish either. At the end of the conversation make sure you have:
- Mentioned that you are looking for work
- Talked about your specific skills
- Mentioned your target companies
Next up is your resume - a powerful sales tool that needs to be engaging, relevant to the job and easy-to-read. Make it easy for a recruiter or hiring manager to spot your skills and accomplishments.
To that end, all comprehensive and effective resumes should include the following:
- Accurate and up to date contact information with email and telephone number
- A clear chronology of all jobs with title, company, location of company, and dates of employment.
- A list of key accomplishments for each position (if you are applying to different types of jobs, it is vital you customize your resume to highlight your accomplishments as they relate to the specific job you are applying for).
- Any special skills, training, certification you have received (e.g. software programs, Six Sigma training, etc.)
- A list of your educational credentials
Too many job candidates show up for their job interview without having done a shred of research on the company. If part of selling yourself is making a good first impression, failing to thoroughly research the company and the job before you answer that first question can be a real deal breaker. A little research goes a long way and will help you convey how your skills and accomplishments relate to the job you are applying for. Also, be prepared to talk about your strengths. This isn't bragging - it is necessary information interviewers need in order to evaluate your candidacy.
Cover and Thank You Notes
Finally, every time you contact a prospective employer should be considered an opportunity to sell yourself. This includes both the cover letter you send when applying for the job and the thank you note you should send directly after the interview. Use the cover letter to briefly highlight your interest in the position and how your skills match.
Just as you will customize your resume for different jobs, don't use the same cover letter for every position - tailor each one to the unique requirements listed in the job posting. Also, use the cover letter to note any special circumstances surrounding your job search (e.g. you are in the process of relocating to the state where the job is located).
If you are fortunate enough to get an interview, make sure to use the thank you note as a way to emphasize your interest and what skills you will bring to the job.
A Little Selling Could Win You the Job
Remember, while employers are first and foremost looking for people with the right skills and the right fit for their organization, often they are faced with more than one good candidate. So if you do a better job throughout the process of reminding the recruiter (i.e. selling yourself) of why you're a good fit, it can be the little bit of extra effort that lands you the job.
Johnna Major is founder and president of Cornerstone HR, LLC. She has over 20 years of business and HR experience, and is a certified Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR). She is specially trained in strategic and operational planning processes, the ADKAR change management model, the Cape Cod Model for small organizational systems, and the Six Sigma methodologies for improving processes. For more information about her expertise and services please visit her website at www.cornerstone-hr.com.