“Sell yourself!” is advice that is often given to job seekers who want to know how to land the next job. To some extent that is true — there is a certain amount of hustle and self-promotion that is necessary in a successful job hunt. But I want you to consider the words of sales authority Jeffrey Gitomer:
“Which do you think the customer wants, answers to their problems or your sales pitch?”
Now substitute “prospective employer” for “customer,” and that’s exact the question before you as you prepare for your job search.
The answer to the question is easy: of course, they want answers to their problems! But how often do hiring managers, HR reps, and recruiters get a string of applicants who come in saying, “I have a degree from this prestigious college!” and “I’ve worked on this project for a high-profile client and won that award!” (Probably more times than they like to recall.)
Instead of being dazzled by your credentials, their internal response may be more like, “Aren’t you full of yourself?” or “So?”
When you put the focus on yourself in the cover letter and résumé or during the interview process, you are taking out of the equation one very important party — the company you are hoping will hire you. Not exactly a good way to start building a relationship.
Fortunately, there are some easy ways to find out what kind of problems need solving at your target company:
- Read the job description.
- Read the company website.
- Read industry news.
- Read/watch news from the community where your target company’s headquarters are and in the community where the local facilities are (if the two are not the same).
- Talk with people in your network who have additional insight into the company’s needs.
- Use a free service like Glassdoor to see what is being said about your target company (keeping in mind, of course, that folks who post may have their own agenda).
Now, are you looking at that list and thinking, “I have to do that? But I’m sending out at least 100 copies of my résumé a month! How can I do that much research with all of them?” The answer to this question is also easy: don’t! Spray and pray job hunting is a very ineffective strategy, so why would you spend the majority of your time doing something that has such a low success rate?
Reduce the number of companies you are targeting, and use your extra time to go on a fact-finding mission to learn about their problems. Then take what you learn to customize your approach so you can show them how your education and experiences can be parlayed into solving their problems. That will go over much better than some slimy sales pitch.
How else have you kept from being slimy and learned about a company’s needs?
Image courtesy of Kevin Dooley
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