Emphasize what you bring to the table for employers.
It’s job search advice you’ve heard over and over again. But, here’s the thing: Identifying your own skills and special qualities isn’t always that easy.
Sure, your previous jobs and passions can help point you in the right direction. However, when it comes to zoning in on those things that will make a hiring manager lift your resume into the air Lion King-style and proclaim, “This candidate. This is the one,” to the entire office? Well, that’s not all that simple.
This is why it’s important to figure out your personal value proposition—or, to put it another way, what specific value you bring for potential employers.
“Your personal value proposition should be at the heart of your career strategy,” explains Ellen Fondiler, award-winning career coach and Master Coach for The Muse, “A good personal value proposition sets you apart from the competition and underscores your worth to a company.”
Impressive stuff, right? But, how exactly do you pull one together for yourself? I’m going to walk you through it right now.
1. Understand What’s Required
Before you can exceed expectations, you first need to ensure that you meet them. This means that your first step in generating your own value proposition should be taking a fine-tooth comb to that job description to get a solid grasp on what they’re looking for in an ideal applicant.
What specific tasks is this position responsible for? What strengths and competencies are required to fulfill that role? What “preferred but not required” qualifications do they have listed?
This analysis is crucial—because, much like your resume and your cover letter, you should plan to tweak your value proposition according to the specific job you’re applying for. “It is important to thoroughly research each and every company that you are applying for,” Fondiler adds, “How do your skills add value to their mission?”
With that groundwork in place, you’ll be much better prepared to craft a value proposition that doesn’t just tout your skills and accolades—but also demonstrates your relevancy as a candidate.
2. Get Out a Notepad
After you’ve poured over the job description and began matching that up with your own background, you probably have plenty of thoughts swimming around in your brain. At this point, it’s time to get those all out of your head and down on paper—so, grab a notepad.
On that sheet of paper, jot down any relevant skill, aptitude, or experience that you believe would qualify you for that position and impress that potential employer.
I know it’s hard to analyze yourself and determine just what makes you special (it can feel a little conceited, can’t it?). So, here are a few questions to reflect on to help you zero in on the things that could be most pertinent and noteworthy:
- What professional skills have you always received praise or compliments on?
- What past projects have gone exceptionally well for you?
- What particular skills did those projects involve?
- Either by your colleagues or in previous performance reviews, what adjectives have been used to describe you?
Those sorts of questions allow you to step outside of yourself and pull out your most impressive and relevant qualifications and characteristics—which you can then weave into your resume, your cover letter, and even your interviews.
3. Emphasize the Benefits
Do you know those vacuum salesmen from back in the day who would ring your doorbell and attempt to convince you to ignore the hefty price tag and spring for that new unit anyway?
They talked about the features of that vacuum, sure. But, the meat and potatoes of their pitch involved what that vacuum would do for you—how it would make your home cleaner and your life significantly easier. Heck, they’d even dump dirt on the floor and show you the thing in action.
You probably aren’t pedaling vacuums to potential employers. However, when it comes to your personal value proposition, this concept still rings true.
Employers don’t just care about what you can do—they care about how it benefits them. They’re not just interested to know what skills you have, but what how you’ll use those to bring significant value to their company. It’s called a value proposition for a reason.
Those are two of the big questions Fondiler says your value proposition should address: How will the company benefit by hiring you and what experience can you offer that provides value to the company?
Maybe you’re a whiz at generating social media campaigns. But, rather than just bragging about your own capabilities, touch on the results of those efforts—such as how you implement those campaigns to drive traffic, grow followings, and increase sales.
If you can highlight the positive outcomes of your skills (and not just the skills themselves), you’ll not only impress that prospective employer, but also separate yourself from the sea of competition that’s undoubtedly rambling on and on about their own knowledge and accomplishments.
Figuring out your own value prop can be tough. Everybody’s ends up being different, which can make the process feel that much more intangible and difficult to wrap your arms around.
However, taking the time to work your way through these three steps will help you to focus on the things that make you a solid candidate for that specific open role. It’ll likely involve some scribbling and scratching out, but the most important thing to remember is not to get discouraged.
“Don’t sell yourself short,” concludes Fondiler, “You never know what quality or qualification will be the thing that makes the difference and gives you an edge. Even small things—traits and skills that you take for granted—can be just what a company is looking for.”
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Photo of person on computer courtesy of lechatnoir/Getty Images.
Kat is a Midwest-based freelance writer, covering topics related to careers, productivity, and the freelance life. In addition to The Muse, she's a contributor all over the web and dishes out research-backed advice for places like Atlassian, Trello, Toggl, Wrike, The Everygirl, FlexJobs, and more. She's also an Employment Advisor at a local college, and loves helping students prepare to thrive in careers (and lives!) they love. When she manages to escape from behind her computer screen, she's usually babying her two rescue mutts or continuing her search for the perfect taco. Say hi on Twitter @kat_boogaard or check out her website.More from this Author