Engaging Employers: How to Articulate Your Unique Offer
David Shindler is a coach, facilitator, speaker, and blogger on jobs, careers and employability development. He runs an online school, Career Navigating for Young Professionals, and is author of “Learning to Leap, a Guide to Being More Employable”.
We all have strengths, temporary and enduring limitations, and blind-spots. Until other people point them out or we discover them through experience and insight. Talking about ourselves is more natural to some than others. You draw on what you know about yourself and how others see you. But, how do you articulate your unique offer to persuade an employer that you are the right person to hire? Many of my coaching clients struggle to engage employers and get lost in translation. How can you give yourself a better chance of success?
Does this sound like you?
“I’m ready and willing, but I can’t put it across.”
“I don’t know how to translate my capability and experience for the benefit of this employer.”
“It’s hard to communicate the value I’ve created to date and the value I will bring to the employer now and in the future.
“I am lost in translation and don’t know how to show my relevance in an engaging way.”
Start by recognizing your talents and saying how you have used them with tangible examples. But don’t stop there basking in the glory of your achievements. That’s not enough. Go one step further and make explicit the value you bring to that job or company. Help the employer by joining up the dots between your experience and why it’s relevant.
In marketing terms, this is your Unique Selling Proposition or USP. Some people object to the idea of ‘selling’ yourself. They don’t like equating a complex and multi-faceted human being with a product or service. But, it’s your humanity that will win you the job. The art of selling ourselves in today’s world is about moving people with emotion.
Do you remember the panel interview scene in the award-winning film, Billy Elliot? Billy struggles until he is asked what it feels like dancing. His reply gets him a place at ballet school:
“I like, forget everything. Sorta disappear. Like I feel a change in my whole body. And I’ve got this fire in my body. I’m just there. Flyin’ like a bird. Like electricity.”
Engage with emotion Here are 3 ways to engage employers with emotion when applying for jobs:
- Be relevant
Use keywords from the job profile and expand on them to show your understanding. Does the example you give match the competence, talent or strength in the question?
Reveal your thought process and how it feels in tackling a problem or dealing with a situation from your experience. Use other people’s words to describe you at your best (“Other people describe me as ‘X’ because…”) rather than your words alone (“I am organized”). Show off your portfolios, designs, languages, websites and blogs. Leave a takeaway to be memorable. Use your outside interests to show your character and whole person. Here are a couple of examples from my experience of coaching young professionals so they show their talents:
- Abby is President of the Belly Dancing Society at her university. She also designs computer games as a side-business while studying for her degree. Abby can draw out the skills and mindsets from both and point them at the job need. She can also show herself leading a dance class and an example of a game on her mobile.
- Jess was a new graduate preparing for a job interview to become a trainee teacher. One of her outside interests is helping deaf people using sign language. Jess used her skills to teach a panel of interviewers how to do some simple sign language. It engaged them with emotion, showed her teaching skills, and made her stand out. Jess got selected.
- Tell stories
Stories from your experience bring to life your unique personality, character and capability. They inspire warmth and employers tend to hire people they like and respect. Like Billy Elliott, transport yourself back into that situation and recreate those feelings. That way you will answer job questions more naturally and confidently. After all, you were there and the employer wasn’t, so you know more than them. Make yourself remarkable and memorable! Reveal your character in the job search and show employers you are someone of substance. Place your authentic self at the heart of your stories. Reveal your work ethic, outward-looking mindset, and ethical behaviors. Care more, stand up for what you believe in, and show you can thrive as well as survive in the workplace. Would you like an easy-to-follow guide on how to show your value to employers? Get access here to your FREE 12-Page Job Interview Guide!