My client, Connie knew that she wanted to find work with an employer close to home. She was interested in financial security and a place where she would feel valued. Her background was in various roles, ranging from customer service manager for a Fortune 500, to sales leadership for a startup. Was Connie ready to walk out the door and nestle into a new job?
Before Connie even started her search, she needed tools for her job-search job. An iPad salesperson needs a demo to show people. Farmers need the right equipment to till their soil and harvest their crops. If you’re in career transition as Connie was, you need career-transition tools.
Me, myself and I.
“Your destiny is not for someone else to manage – it is your destiny.”
The above, written by Byron Pulsifer in “The Hard Part of Balance,” could have been talking about your role in your job search. You are without doubt, the most important tool. It’s your skills, your talents and your special traits that will land you the job.
You must know who you are.
You must know what you offer.
You must convince others.
First, name your skills. How?
- Look at what you’ve been paid to do. Begin by reviewing your past work history: past job descriptions, performance evaluations, email with feedback and kudos, special projects or temporary assignments. Sometimes those things that seem routine can be forgotten. They can, in fact, be important clues to your value.
- Glimpse back at your education. What does your academic background say about you? It may be very interesting to a global employer with a South American presence, that you blended a major in Economics with a Spanish minor. Include any professional development. Scrutinize content. Does a communications course taken add value to your potential contributions as a liaison with the central office of a healthcare provider? The latest CRM technology certainly helps support your case as an impactful account executive.
- Outline your volunteer work. You’ve spent hours coordinating your daughter’s soccer team’s competition. You’ve served with Meals-on-Wheels for nine years, and taken your children along to learn the essence of helping those in need. You initiated your neighborhood watch, and have a block of more-secure folks maintaining proactive, systemized security efforts. Inventory your volunteer work – all of it. It will help you identify those skills perhaps not used in paying work.
- Examine your personal characteristics. While skills and qualifications are central, personal character is equally important. The most common reason for terminating employees is not incompetence, but the inability to get along with others, habitually showing up late or missing work, or other undesirable traits. In the same vein, companies hire people they like; and they hire candidates that will fit into their workplace and culture. It is totally up to YOU to identify those traits that make you likeable, admired or a fit, right along with those skills that make you a competent teacher, salesperson or software engineer.
Know and show.
Of course, identifying your skills is only the first step. You need to be able to convince others to want your skills, qualifications and traits. Christopher Columbus told people the world was round, but until he landed in the New World, no one believed him. Similarly, saying you are hard-working and responsible falls – ah-hem, flat. So how do you win folks over?
- Use your voice. Practice sounding interested and enthusiastic. This is especially crucial on the phone, because folks can’t see you. Your voice has to “say everything”! Avoid monotone; vary your tone to get people involved. You become more interesting and believable. Try calling a friend or family member. Speak to them when you are smiling. Then, switch to a frown and continue talking. Afterward, ask them if they could tell the difference. Then, try it again with them having a heads up.
- Use your whole body. When you’re face to face, look directly at people when talking to them. You lose credibility when you look away too frequently. Your body language can help you sell your value. You seem more confident when you have good posture and your head up. Last week, I spoke to a hiring manager who told me she did not hire someone because of their slouch. “He seemed as someone who would simply disappear at the onset of a challenge,” she told me.
- Video yourself describing your skills. Are you interesting enough to keep an employer’s attention? Do you think you should add some pizazz to your presentation? What might it be? Flesh it out, tweak and refine, and practice!
Practice telling yourself and everyone who will listen, who you are; and what you have to offer. Convey your career charisma! You’ll be right on track to convince employers that you are the best person for the job. Do you have any ideas to share on knowing and showing who you are? I’d love to hear from you!