A simple enough (and probably overused) phrase, “selling yourself” makes many job seekers squirm. In fact, it probably causes more unease than any other part of the job search. My client Bob told me, “I feel I’m out there like a football game vendor’s hotdog on a tray.” It’s not pleasant for folks to feel as though they’re a product to be scrutinized, judged, raked over and despite best feet forward, rejected.
The whole process is often belittling for many job seekers. George told me, “I hate pushing myself off on people. It’s as though I have to wear a sign around my neck, yell and point, ‘Hey, I’m here! Look at me now’ to get their attention.”
Like George, quite a few job seekers feel that if they could just avoid having to sell themselves – if people just came looking for them – life would be good. It’s much more dignified not to have to make a sales pitch. It’s much less stressful on the mind and body to be pursued. Sure. But in a non-perfect world, you had better come to terms with selling yourself, because you will be in many situations where a job offer can depend upon how well you project your potential to an interested listener. Selling yourself may feel awkward at first, but it need not involve high-pressure tactics and can often occur in informal settings. The more you do it, the more natural it becomes. Breathe easy and dive in. You probably do it more than you know; you just don’t call it selling.
Keep your momentum
I’m going to assume that in your search, you’ve done some leg work and due diligence. You’ve rolled up your sleeves before now and worked hard. You’ve probably been brainstorming options for what you want to do, researched to see where that might be, gone through a whole lot of weighing pros and cons, digging for information, finding people, researching jobs and companies, building a prospect list, and more. You’ve put a great deal of time and effort into this. That’s why the job search is called a job. It’s work.
So if you’ve gotten yourself to windows of opportunities, why would you want to risk it all because you’re reluctant to sell yourself? Do you want to drop the ball now? Of course you don’t. But that’s what often happens if you don’t sell.
This is important. You have to be willing to tell people who you are and what you can do. They won’t know if you can’t tell them. They won’t stop you at the market and say, “Gee, Mary, it’s really you! We’ve been looking for an accountant like you!” Even when you work hard to get the interview, the interviewer will not look you straight in the eyes and say, “Wow! You’re just what we’ve been looking for — our perfect sales consultant!”
When you’ve gotten the interview (good for you!), you want to show them more than credentials.
And give them more than stock answers that sound positive but mean — let’s face it — not much.
“I’m really good with people.” (Ted, my English Cocker, is good with people).
“I really want this job.” (Of course you do or you shouldn’t be there).
“I’m a really hard worker.” (Did you think we wanted a lazy worker?)
While these may be true statements, the interviewer has heard them a thousand times. What’s special about you? What sets you apart? What are you known for? And most importantly, how does it all fit with the job? What value are you going to give them in THIS JOB?
So you’ve done a lot of work to get to this point. You should pat yourself on the back for finding jobs that you’re qualified for. You got the interview. Don’t lose your momentum now. Be prepared to talk about what they need (and I’m assuming you’ve done thorough research on the company beforehand), their pain, and how you can help.
Use a 3-step process
There are 3 things that anyone can—and should do to sell during the interview (and continued networking) phase.
1) Give them reasons to want you.
2) Tell them stories about yourself.
3) Hone and use your social skills.
Stay positive and stay tuned; I’ll go into these steps in more depth soon!