Selling Yourself

Do you feel confident selling yourself in the job search? Trying to convince someone you are the person for a position is difficult especially when you are making a career change. The hiring manager is looking for previous relevant experience and critical competencies, and you are likely trying to convince the hiring manager that your skills are transferable. As a result, it becomes a tug of war, with the manager telling you the skills and competencies he needs, and you saying, “yes, but….” This is analogous to stating features and benefits in a product or service sale which doesn’t work in a high value sale. You are a high value sale!

 In a high value sale, you need to move your listener through the progression of a need from realizing they have a problem to feeling a strong desire to solve the problem. Only when your listener has a strong want or desire should you explain the value you can provide in terms of solving his or her business challenges.

Selling yourself in a job search is a skill we can cultivate with practice.

How to Prepare

Understand the Problems

  1. In order to prepare for a conversation with a decision maker/hiring manager, list three potential problems the organization/hiring manager may have that you can solve. You need to do your homework and understand the organization, the trends and the marketplace. (Please don’t ask questions to uncover problems you cannot solve.) Then, for each problem, ask what are the related difficulties or consequences? Finally create questions to not only uncover the problems but the consequences or impact of each problem.

Ask the Benefits of the Solution

  • Once she has told you the problems and consequences, flip the coin and ask her the benefits of a solution: “If you could alleviate the problem, what else will happen?” “In addition to what we have already discussed, what impact will the solution have?”

Be sure to look at operational context. Who or what else is affected by this issue? For example,

“Does this affect just you and your department, or does it affect other departments as well?” “How is this challenge affecting sales, morale, production, etc.?” Again, flip the coin and ask, “In addition to improving the performance of your team, how else might your organization benefit?” “What else would this enable you to do?” Remember, if you say it is sold, if they say it, it is gold!

Solve the Problem!

  • Once you have “peeled the onion” for both pain and gain, state how you can solve the problem and mitigate its consequences. Be sure to share examples of how you solved similar problems in the past; the best predictor of how you will perform in the future. The goal is for you to become the solution.


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