With years and years of experience, you’ve stacked up many impressive achievements. You’ve likely held a variety of roles and responsibilities, and solved diverse sets of problems. And that means you can market yourself in lots of different ways.
The flipside of that is the more you can share, the more confusing your message becomes. And the more confusing it becomes, the less effective it is.
After helping more than 15,000 clients at Career Attraction, we’ve noticed that the biggest mistake experienced professionals make is presenting an overstuffed, unfocused brand. Long story short: They squander the opportunity to clearly explain what they’ve done.
As you move up the ladder, qualifications alone are not enough. More people have advanced degrees, as well as experience managing a team and overseeing large budgets. The best way to stand out is to hone your elevator pitch.
Because that is what’s going to help you stand out among all the other experienced job seekers who look similar enough on paper. Here’s how:
Pick the Right Problem
When you’re going after more senior roles, you need to have a deep understanding of the pain points the C-Suite team has at your target company. There are usually one to three problems keeping them up at night—and you must speak to at least one in order to be relevant.
Of course, you won’t be able to find the problems the leadership cares about most in a job description. (No one’s going to want to advertise their biggest challenges to the world.) The best way to understand these problems is through conversations with the market—which means tapping into your network.
Once you have a better idea what the significant issues are, pick one that has these three qualities:
- You’d be excited to solve it.
- You’re confident you would be successful.
- You know it’s a significant issue the company cannot afford to ignore.
Once you’ve done that, develop talking points that are relevant to the decision-makers and share examples that they’d find interesting.
What This Looks Like
You can use a simple framework to describe what you do in a succinct and compelling way called the XYZ framework.
That is, I help X [your target audience] do or understand Y [the problem you solve] so that Z [the outcome they covet most].
Say you have experience in growing revenue at software companies and you learn your target company has a specific need for growing their channel partnerships.
In the above example you would say, “I help software companies who are at 3-5 million in revenue grow to $20 million by attracting more channel partnerships that lead to consistent growth.”
You might also have experience with managing teams and strategic planning—and you’ll get to touch on that later in the process. At this stage jamming everything you know into your pitch is distracting.
The goal of this statement is to make it relevant, concrete, and unique so that you stand out from your competition. This will make it easy for people to carry your message forward and refer you to others who may have the problem you solve and lead to more opportunities.
SHOW OFF THAT HARD-EARNED EXPERIENCE
There's a right (and wrong) way to go about it.
Then, Get Out of Your Own Way
Many people resist taking this route. They’re focused on making sure they list every possible skill on their resume, thinking it’s better to have more than less.
Here’s the thing: If your message is focused on hitting every point in a job description, then you’re using the same approach as your competition. And while this strategy may be the way to go when you’re starting out, senior-level candidates need to do more than check the boxes listed.
This is no time to get stuck lingering on the duties and responsibilities you hold, or have held in prior positions. (Which, by the way, is the most common error people make in their resumes—showing only duties and responsibilities.) You need to show impact. Where did you help the organization make money, save money, salvage situations, solve problems, capitalize on opportunities, build something entirely new?
For the roles you’re applying to, the hiring manager is more interested in how you’ll add value based on your experience, than that you list off every thing you’ve ever done. (And if you’re sold on the idea but struggling with the execution, here are three ways to make your resume tell a story.)
Truth talk: When you refine your message, you’ll rule yourself out for many roles. But, that’s exactly the point.
You want to position yourself as a solution to a specific set of problems! If you do that, you’ll land the right role—one that’ll put you on the path to being successful, happy, and more highly compensated.
And what could be better than that?
Photo of person on phone courtesy of Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Getty Images.
Olivia Gamber is the author of The Career Upgrade Roadmap: 90 Days to a Better Job and a Better Life (You can get a free copy here). She is the Partner at Career Attraction, where she helps high potential professionals explore innovative approaches to advancing their career. Olivia is a career acceleration expert, industrial/organizational psychologist, and career coach. She has experience leading teams in recruiting and talent development for Fortune 500 and mid-sized organizations.More from this Author