Monday, 6 August 2012

"What's Your Problem" Series #4 - Selling Yourself; the big bugbear demystified

Job hunting these days seems to be all about selling.  From personal branding and image, or designing your CV as a marketing brochure, to selling your key skills at interview, at all stages of the process you need to be selling.
Many people find influencing and persuasion skills difficult to master, and just the thought of trying to persuade someone to hire you, especially by ‘blowing your own trumpet’ face to face in an interview, can seem even more awkward and unappealing.

However, help is at hand.  There is, if not a formula, at least a set of communication skills that can be learned that will help you present yourself and what you can do for an employer more successfully.

Here are some links to useful articles about influencing and persuasion skills: links persuading, influencing and negotiation together

All of these techniques are based upon focusing on what the other person’s needs are rather than on your own.  In a job hunting situation it is easy to get trapped into only thinking about what you need – what kind of job, where, with what organisation and at what salary.

However, to sell yourself successfully you should spend some time finding out what the potential employers you are applying to need.  Think about things from their point of view – what sort of person would they expect would be able to do the job they’re advertising?  What qualifications, skills and experience are they hoping to see on a CV/application form?  What answers would they be expecting to their interview questions?

If you can answer these questions, then you can work backwards to prepare better answers to interview questions, write a more tailored CV, and create a more impressive online presence. 

One of the simplest things you can do is to ruthlessly avoid using the words ‘only’, ‘just’ or ‘we’ in your answers.  For example, instead of saying “it was just a small project” say “it was a small project where I ...” and instead of saying “I’ve only used xxx system once” say “I used xxx system at...”

In the words of one of the articles quoted, the aim is to create a proposal the person wants to say yes to, because it will benefit them.  It is your job to ensure that your CV/application form, and your interview answers, form this ‘yes proposal’ in their minds.

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