Selling Yourself into a Job

If you’re currently without a job or need of upgrading your job, it’s time to work on selling yourself. The key to success is to stop right now and think about what you are selling. Yourself. This should be the easiest sale you’ll ever make. Who other than you has more in-depth knowledge about your talents, abilities, and desires?

The first key to success in this endeavor is to look at an employment situation as a selling situation. You’ll play two roles. In a job interview, you are both the salesperson and the product. Your goal is to match your particular features and benefits (skills and talents) with the needs of a qualified employer.

Here are six steps to help you.

Step 1: Begin by Prospecting

Prospecting means finding the right potential buyer for what you’re selling. When you’re selling yourself into a new job, it means finding the right potential employer.

You should already know what type of work you most enjoy. That word enjoy is key here: if you don’t firmly believe that you would enjoy the type of job you’re seeking, you’ll have trouble being enthusiastic about job hunting. It’s a lot easier to be excited about a job that interests you than about one that happens to have the biggest ad online or has the salary range you need to have an enjoyable lifestyle.

You may send out literature on your product. Product literature in this case is called a resume. Have your resume professionally prepared. Chances are good that it will be competing with quite a few others that have been professionally prepared. You don’t want yours to look like a poor relation.

Be different. At this point, you’re not yet selling yourself into the job. You’re selling the reader of the resume (and cover letter) on interviewing you. Use only what may be appropriate for your particular employment situation. Enclose a photograph of yourself, dressed appropriately for the position. Having a face on the résumé to put with the attributes of the candidate establishes a certain familiarity. Add a clever quote to the bottom of your cover letter. Taking a few moments to research this attention-getter will make your resume stand out.

To ensure that your name gets attention more than once, send a thank-you note the day after you send your resume. Thank-you notes are always read. If the recipient hasn’t had the time to review your resume by the time they receive your note, don’t you think they’ll go looking for your name among the stacks of others? You will have made a positive first impression that will bring you closer to getting that precious interview.

Step 2: Stand out at the Original Contact

When in doubt about what to wear to an interview, err on the side of conservatism. You want to look your best, but also remember to be comfortable. If your clothing is uncomfortable, you’ll be distracted and may struggle to focus all of your attention on the interview.

Because this is a business situation, be prepared to shake hands, make eye contact, and build rapport. Building rapport is the getting-to-know-you stage that comes with any interview. The person doing the hiring doesn’t just want someone competent for the position: she or he needs someone who has people skills. Be prepared to talk about previous work and civic experiences that show your ability to communicate and work as part of a team.

Step 3: Prequalify Yourself and the Company

Determine if you are qualified to work for the company and if it is qualified to be your employer. For you, qualification means finding out who the company is, what it does, how it treats employees. Doing so will save both you and the company a lot of time.

If you haven’t prequalified the company, take a few moments during your interview to ask questions that would tell you whether you and the employer would make a good match. Interviewers respect proactive potential employees. Go in with a list of at least five questions whose answers will help you decide whether a prospective employer has an ideal work environment for you.

Here’s a valuable hint: Don’t just ask about salary and benefits. These two topics are most important to you, but when you’re selling yourself, you need to show interviewers how having you on staff benefits them. If you focus on what you can do for the company, what the company can do for you will follow.

  • Ask questions specific to the position as well as about the company.
  • Ask about the company’s future plans for growth.
  • Ask about the product line.
  • Ask about the position.

It doesn’t matter if you’re applying for a job in sales, accounting, or shipping. You’ll eventually have to know a lot of information about the company, if you get the job. So if you’re truly convinced this is the right job for you, you might as well ask these questions now. The more specific your questions, the more impressed your interviewers will be with your expertise. Asking pertinent questions now shows that you’re interested in more than just a paycheck.

It may turn out that you are not comfortable taking a job that you interview for. If it’s offered and it’s really not what you’re looking for, be honest with them. Thank them for their time, and decline the job.

Step 4: Prepare Your Presentation

Your presentation of your product requires the most preparation. Practice your answers to common interview questions with a family member or close friend. Make a list of the qualities you think are your strongest. Then try to figure a way to work those points into responses to common questions.

To demonstrate dependability, tell the interviewers an anecdote from a previous job or even from an outside activity. If you were an Eagle Scout as a kid, that says a lot about you, doesn’t it? Find a way to bring it up. You may want to mention long-term friendships that evolved from past employment experiences (except if the friend works for the competition).

Step 5: Address Concerns

How do you handle any negative qualifications that might come up? If any objections arise, explain yourself in as simple, unemotional terms as possible. If you’re the primary caregiver for your 95-year-old grandmother and you have to arrange nursing care in advance on weekends, let them know.

If you sidestep obstacles in an interview, there’s a good chance they’ll come back to haunt you if you do get the job. Find a way to bring up and elaborate on any concerns about fulfilling the needs of the “buyer” as early in the presentation as is appropriate.

Step 6: Close the Sale

If you do want the job and it hasn’t been offered, you may have to ask for it. Don’t panic. This isn’t where you have to turn into Joe Typical Salesperson and apply pressure to get what you want. Getting the job can be as simple as smiling and saying, “How soon do I start?” or “What’s my next step?” At this point, if you’re confident about being able to give the company what it needs, you should begin taking verbal ownership of the position with assumptive statements and questions.

Immediately upon leaving the interview, drop thank-you notes in the mail to the interviewers. This will guarantee your interview will stay fresh in their minds for at least a few days while they’re deciding on who they’ll hire.

Copyright Tom Hopkins International, Inc.



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  1. Great article for those who are looking for jobs

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