Sell Yourself (Get Hired, Any Job – Pt 3)

Sell YourselfGet ready to SELL YOURSELF.  Not your whole “self” (the 13th amendment outlaws that anyway). We are talking about selling your labor to a company that is hiring. You may recoil at the thought of selling yourself. For some reason, a lot of people seem to think they are selling out on some meta-physical level if they try to sell themselves.

In reality, you are just explaining how you can serve someone else and bring value to their lives or company. In fact, you are planning to provide them even more value than you are going to receive in pay. At least from their perspective, the employer must value your time and effort more than what they will pay you or they will just keep the money. No point bringing on an employee (and the liability that goes with that) unless they expect to get more out of it then they are giving out. Same goes for you. If you did not put the value of the pay and benefits above your time and effort, then you would just stay home or work somewhere else.

You are For Sale so Sell Yourself!I’m not trying to get philosophical with you; I just want to remind you that you need to focus your mind on how you will bring a great deal of value to your future employer. That’s if you plan to get hired. In Part 1, we covered the mindset you need so you can get the most out of your job search. Now you need to start thinking about what makes you awesome that the interviewer will care about. In Part 2 of this series we started to address Resume Awesomeness. In that article we cover how you can use letters of recommendation, thank you emails and such from clients and previous bosses. We showed examples of how to open your resume with a section filled with favorable quotes about you. You can’t focus on all the great stuff that was said about you there. When selling you have to get right to the point.

Part 3: Sell Yourself (with Selling Points)

Think about something you have bought recently.  Chances are you didn’t have 87 reasons to buy it.  It is much more likely that you had just one to three reasons for your purchase.  If you really thought about it, you probably had one real reason and one or two rationalizations that just came along for the ride.

Now, since we really want you to sell yourself, we need to narrow your focus to just a couple of key quotes. To do that, you will need to think of what are the 2 or 3 selling points you will use to SELL YOURSELF. I say “2 or 3” and I mean that to be taken literally. You don’t want to go into an interview with just one selling point (or they will pick up that you are just repeating yourself). I would advise against having more than 3 main selling points. When selling yourself you want your 2 or 3 selling points to be easy to remember (not just for you but for the interviewer). Now you may have a dozen cool things you have done that you will want to talk about during the interview and that’s great! But if you really think about it each experience or skill can be grouped into 2 or 3 selling points. The last time I was being interviewed (for my current position) my selling points were clearly in mind. I sold myself using the following 3 selling points:

  1. My Specialty was Not Having a Specialty. My whole career to that point was spent picking up new (usually proprietary) technologies. I was not the person to hire for being an expert in one area. I was absolutely the person to hire if you needed someone to quickly pick up something new.
  2. Was Experienced with Enterprise Systems. I had experience with Oracle, SQL Server, and SAP. Don’t worry if that is gibberish to you. It meant something to the hiring manager.
  3. International Experience. Since I was a teenager I have had experience working in various different countries and could produce references on 3 continents. Of course, I didn’t mention how old I was (17 and 18) when I managed a team in London; just mentioning it here since this is SixFigureTeen.com after all.

There is a real beauty in knowing your selling points when you are trying to sell yourself. It means that you are comfortable with what you are. But even more importantly, it allows you to be comfortable with your limitations. Take my first selling point. Now this was on the top of my list because I knew the position I was applying for was not for a widely used technology. They had their own custom tools that they were going to need to teach to whomever they hired. So I knew they cared more about me being able to pick up something new than if I was an expert in some programming language I wouldn’t be using anyway.

This allowed me to openly talk about my limitation of not being an expert in any one system. They weren’t looking for an expert in anything in particular. You want to pick your limitations as carefully as your selling points.

In fact, it helps if at least one or two of your selling points have attached negatives. I call them neutralized negatives. This is way different than fake negatives. “I’m a workaholic” or “I can be a bit of a perfectionist” are not real negatives. They may actually be in real life but the interviewer will just think you are pandering. When someone asks you about some of your negative traits you MUST give a REAL answer. Fake answers give the impression that you have some serious negatives to hide. That said, you should think of what negatives are not critical to the job at hand.

Use the Power of MS Word to Sell Yourself

Actually Use Microsoft Word

I know you think you use Microsoft Word but you really don’t. I spent 3 years as a recruiter and can tell you that most resumes stink. Most are filled just with text and some lame formatting.  YOU APPLICANTS are doing almost NOTHING to make your resumes unique.  How is a resume that looks like everyone else’s going to help you to sell yourself? MS Word is FULL of amazing features and unless your resume looks like a page out of Fast Company or Wired, you are leaving some stones unturned.

Ever notice how a magazine article will have the most important quotes or excerpts from within the article pulled out and put in a box with large font?  You can’t argue with the cumulative wisdom of over 100 years of magazine publishers. They use that format for a reason.  With regard to your resume, take the best quotes or best “home runs” from your RESULTS section (remember from Part 2) and use a Quote Meme generator to create those really nice looking quote images you see plastered over social media and place them in a staggered fashion throughout your resume.  Three should be plenty for most resumes and even two will spruce it up pretty well. Check out how these can look in an actual resume (I made these at behappy.me):

 

And make sure to stagger the quotes so they aren’t all on one side (like every magazine you have ever read) to help sell yourself like a pro:

If you are short on quotes but heavier on RESULTS, then you can also use the Quote Meme Generator for emphasizing those.

Sell Yourself Recap

So let’s recap what we have learned so far in this “Get Hired For Any Job” Series:

  • Mindset: in Part 1 we learned that we need to overshoot a little and look for a job that we might consider a bit out of our reach. Then we learned that we usually want to present ourselves as either having a job or contract already. Then we need to prepare ourselves to exude confidence. We do this by thinking seriously and honestly about why we are AWESOME.
  • Resume Awesomeness: here we covered how to show you are the MOST AWESOME candidate around using a killer resume. We showed how you can start your resume strong by using a collection of QUOTES ABOUT YOU from thrilled clients or past bosses. Then for the rest of the resume on RESULTS with as many stats as we can creatively squeeze out of your past.
  • Sell Yourself: in this post we covered how to do some soul searching so that you are clear about what your top 2 or 3 selling points are before going into the interview. Then we touched on how to make the praise-packed quotes jump off of the page using techniques used by the publishing world for year.

Everyone can benefit from these tactics when trying to Sell Yourself. However, all of this is even more important for teens and twenty-somethings that are just getting their start. You need to really make your awesomeness jump off of the page.

If you have really never accomplished anything or can’t find anyone that will say something awesome about you then you need to fix that problem fast. Internships and volunteering are great ways to get respectable people to say awesome stuff about you. Do something awesome (even if you aren’t paid for it) and put that in your resume. If needed create a company name (let’s say this is your “Doing Business As” name for your sole proprietorship – that’s nicer than saying its fake) and instead of giving an employer reference give a client reference. They will understand that you don’t want to use your current “employer” as a reference. If you did something great for someone for free they should be more than willing to tell someone how awesome you are.

In Part 4, we will cover Interview Awesomeness and start tying this all together. Stay tuned because this is where things really get fun.

About JordanKaufman

Jordan Kaufman is author of Blender Meets Python (and several other technical volumes) and has been the ghostwriter for multiple other non-technical books. He has spent the last 18 years as a technology consultant holding his first tech job at 14 years of age.