Money & Careers

Hitting the Fall Job Market: Make Yourself Memorable

If you’ve been actively job hunting for a while, by now you’ve gotten over any fears of letting the world know about it.

Or have you?

Job hunters are told to perfect their resumes and every Monday morning they don’t hesitate to regurgitate these skills in answering online job ads—the lowest-hanging fruit that rarely achieves results unless you’re a credentialed actuary or a programmer with mad skills. Or they are reminded to work on finessing answers to generic interview questions that may have no relevance to their career.

You have to rise above the typical noise that the throngs of job hunters make to get noticed. How do you ride that fine line between boldly tooting your horn about what a great hire you’d be, and sounding like the milquetoast at the cocktail party that ends up sitting alone?

When you market yourself to Hiring Managers, a dose of humility goes a long way. Your principal focus should be on listening to their business problems and finding a way to solve them. Stop thinking about how great the job will read on your resume if you get it, or how landing the gig will finally get you the three-bedroom place with the waterfront view that you’ve been clamoring for.

When you do have the opportunity for formal interviews, prepare carefully for how you are going to frame your conversations. An effective dialogue is the second cousin to a successful sales pitch, because it doesn’t sound like a sales pitch at all. The smartest salespeople I know say that if they engage their prospect in meaningful dialogue, the prospect will eventually reveal their biggest concerns. The sales person, in turn, then goes about offering customized solutions to take away their pain.

Notice that I used the word customized. Listen to the details of what the Hiring Manager’s biggest problems are regarding her vacant job, and show her what you’ve done in the past as well as what you’ll do in the future that specifically addresses her needs.

The most successful salespeople are almost always subtle while they demonstrate solutions by offering specific features of their product or service. As a job hunter, you can soft sell as well, starting with your resume. List your metrics in bullets—your measurable on-the-job results—in the upper third of your resume. But don’t be shy about focusing on these metrics in your dialogue: sharing how you achieved these results just might land you the job. For example, when you explain to a Hiring Manager what you did to surpass your quotas by 120 percent and establish 25 new accounts last year, driving $1.2 million in new business, you’re bragging in a subtle way. If you’re in Operations, you could describe the projects in jeopardy that you saved or turned around by showing the numbers, the results of your efforts. Now you’re speaking the Hiring Manager’s language. She’s starting to picture you in the vacant seat on her team, solving her own unique set of problems. If you share why you should be hired, instead of bragging about how adaptable and collaborative you are, let the numbers and results back you up.

These days you need to forge connections with as many influencers as possible to rev up your job search. In these larger circles, forget your track record for now and shift your conversations to the greater good.  When you make outreach to anyone who can help you get hired, forward thinking is needed. The purpose of forging these connections is to reinforce your brand and be visible. Start joining different talent communities online and become an incremental part of the dialogue. Comment sparingly on LinkedIn group discussions, blogs and articles, keeping personal rants, politics or religion out of the picture. Add to the discussion to lend your expertise or perhaps help someone in need of information or an industry contact. Be sure to include your LinkedIn profile URL in your signature. Trust me, people will check you out if you are making an honest contribution to the conversation.

This concept of self-marketing is a subtle shift in how you will be perceived as a job hunter. It’s the subtle difference between shouting to the business world that you need a new job and whispering in their ear that you have value and they should get in touch with you. Ask yourself—which version of you is more memorable: when you’re a guest at the party or when you work the party like you’re the humble host?

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