It's been called the Great Resignation.
Many people have re-evaluated the way they feel about their work post-pandemic.
Some are disappointed about the way employers have failed to support them these last 2-years.
We're now reaching a pivotal point in the return to normality with many firms using a variety of innovative methods to tempt/lure/attract or just plain strongly encourage their people to return to the office and that's causing many people - including salespeople to re-think what they're doing and look around for something that fits their new values - whatever they may be.
But just how do you go about securing your next ideal role?
What if you're fresh out of Uni - how do you even get your 1st role?
You're going to have to start selling...yourself!
How Exactly Do You Sell YOU?
Sell yourself. We get the concept but we often struggle to blow our own trumpet in practice, in our CVs, in our LinkedIn profiles and in the interview itself.
The topic of successful self-promotion is at the forefront of my mind because I'm currently mentoring a super-smart young woman currently at Aston Business School. Ife (pro "If Air") is an inspiring, early-career retention marketing graduate and she asked me for some top CV tips, so here goes:
I'm not the expert here but I am fortunate enough to have an amazing network of –
· CV writing Gurus
· Copy Queens and Kings
· HR and Talent Acquisition Professionals.
So, I asked the burning question on LinkedIn recently: - How do you write about your greatest achievements? They came back with some brilliant advice about writing supercharged CVs that hit the sweet spot of recruiters. And it boils down to a number of key factors that might not be what you’d expect to see - selling. Yourself!
What Role Does a CV Play in Winning You That Dream Job?
The sole objective of a CV is to get you an interview. But there’s a small catch…
Your chances of being invited for an interview are almost zero if your CV doesn’t cut through the noise - i.e. stand out in some way.
It needs to shout loudly and clearly to a recruiter – who, bear in mind, is likely to be sifting through hundreds of CVs.
What Does Your CV Scream?
Digital Content Creator Anna Lewin suggests a simple enough starting point –
“Remember you're writing for a human and not a robot (!)”
The importance of being your unashamed authentic self is reiterated by Dr Rushana Khusainova, Marketing Lecturer at Aston Business School. She suggests a four-step approach to crafting your very own interview magnet of a CV:
Audience. Choose your audience; use industry-specific terminology/jargon to demonstrate an understanding of the subject; use wording and content for each industry/project etc
Brain-dump. Just write down the things you know about yourself relative to the role you're applying for.
Action. Decide on the tone that sounds like the true you (authenticity is important) and write down a very short paragraph in the third person.
Polish. Convert into first-person if you like. Re-read. Edit and optimise.
As a sales professional, I’m particularly picking up on Rushana’s final point about using first-person.
We’ve already established that a job application is a sales task. Selling is rarely about ‘you’ and always about ‘them’. So I’m throwing the I:YOU conversion into the mix.
What’s In It for Them?
Your accomplishments need to leap off the page and propose head-on solutions to the recruiter’s problems - i.e. the skills and experience they're looking for.
This isn’t achieved by reeling off lists of your current duties, competencies, certifications, etc, though you'll certainly need those at some point.
The challenge is to bring those achievements to life in a fresh and engaging way that showcases why you, you, you are the ideal candidate for them.
Graduate Financial Careers Coach Paul McCormick advises to “never use the word 'I'” to achieve the desired effect of captivating the recruiter.
It’s Sales 101. All the buyer – or the recruiter in this case – is interested in initially is what’s in it for them.
Conversion Copywriter Judith Rafferty likens the CV writing process to sales copy. She explains, “Always value-led, rather than reaming off a list of competencies. We're commoditising ourselves in our CVs and on our LinkedIn profiles, or at least we should be. And a key feature of this is one of my favourite adages - Features tell. Benefits sell.”
Sell, Sell, Sell
Kathryn "The Career Owl" expands on the notion of selling your benefits rather than your features, adding,
“The focus for writing your CV nowadays is much more on showing how you made a difference in previous roles, rather than just that you can do a job and its associated activities. You need to think of examples and be able to clearly articulate things such as:
· Time or money saved for a company (often referred to as "monetisation")
· Any new processes you have introduced - what did this do to the bottom line?
· Any projects you were involved in (particularly if you led these)
· Any promotions you achieved”
Sheer CV turbo-boosting brilliance!
Kathryn is also clear about one of her key candidate don’ts. She concludes,
Don’t be worried to shout about your successes
This can be a tough call if you're just starting out and don’t have much of a career history yet. Or, perhaps you've been at home looking after the children and are returning to work.
Never fear if this is the case. What you lack in recent experience you might well make up for in personal values or accomplishments.
If You Don’t Stand for Something…
If you don’t stand for something you’ll fall for anything
said 18th Century statesman Alexander Hamilton.
This old adage aligns with the human-centric, collaborative style of sales and selling was ushered in during the pandemic. In terms of selling yourself, demonstrating integrity has become as important to many employers as your ability to do the job.
Simon Sinek described in his famous 2009 TED talk how your ideal audiences will be automatically attracted to buy the values you’re selling -
“People don't buy what you do; they buy why you do it, and what you do simply serves as the proof of what you believe.”
It’s called cultural fit.
I’m not suggesting stamping your personal politics all over your CV. I’m forewarning that behavioural or competency-based questions as they’re commonly known are being used more and more. Recruiters are actively looking for candidates who share the company’s values.
This presents a plum opportunity to get in first and share your work ethic, how you work with other people and what motivates you and how you inspire others.
There is a close correlation between sales and applying for jobs.
But where does it leave you if you're not a salesperson and you feel like you couldn’t sell a paper plate at a picnic? Well, you're going to need to practice stating your achievements out loud, so you can hear what it sounds like.
And, this will have the added bonus of increasing your self-belief. You'll think "wow, I did do that. I made a difference"
Well, I hope you’ve picked up plenty of actionable hints and tips that fill you with enthusiasm.
Do you need to improve your LinkedIn profile? My next LinkedIn: Brilliant Basics event is this Monday and you can register here for free.
You can also comment or drop me an email at email@example.com - I'd love to hear from you!
Did You Know?
1 of the services I provide is interview preparation. I recently helped Bina secure an amazing role with an FTSE-100 organisation and she was kind enough to write this:
"#Kudos I want to take a moment to say #ThankYou for being part of my journey back to confidence and employment after a period of illness. Your positivity and very practical skill-sharing has been invaluable - particularly in understanding how my LinkedIn profile can better reflect my work values and beliefs.
I am pleased to say that I signed a contract for an excellent role at an amazing organisation yesterday. I can't wait to get started!"
Need some straight-talking advice to prepare for an interview or client meeting? Email firstname.lastname@example.org to see if I can help.
TED Talk, Simon Sinek, How great leaders inspire action