Most top professionals find it difficult to market and sell themselves when looking for promotions, jobs and new careers. That's because these skilled professionals are extremely task driven and tend to let their results speak for them.
When we search for a job, we often forget the need to clearly and powerfully communicate those results. Ironically, professionals who are naturally good at marketing and selling their talents tend to be the ones who aren't particularly skilled at doing the work. They've become practiced marketers in order to survive and move up in their jobs.
So, here are the top five mistakes many top professionals make - and some ways to avoid falling into these traps.
1. Let the interviewer figure out who you are
The Trap: Talk about a broad range of your achievements and results - from getting teams to work better, to improving specific processes and managing clients, etc. - and forget to tie it all together by focusing on which of your achievements would resonate most with the hiring organization.
The Solution: Market yourself. It's all about positioning yourself strategically as a certain type of expert, and then explaining how you can solve particular problems. Create a personal branding statement that shows interviewers exactly how you help organizations solve their problems. Then, back up your claims with solid proof in the form of "interviewer stories". That way, you build credibility and people remember you. Marketing is about packaging yourself. It's having a business card and a resumé that sells you before you walk in the door.
2. Talk in generalities
The Trap: Talk in generalities, saying things like: Teams work better when a leader works on a collaborative basis. It's good to get the team together right at the start of a project so they buy into the objectives.
The Solution: To the listener, this sounds like you know what you should do but leaves them wondering if you've actually done it. Instead, give examples, in the form of carefully crafted interview stories, to support your claims of how you can help the hiring organization fix its problems.
3. Loose focus
The Trap: Talk about your own great features - strong people-person, team player, results-focused, etc. - and forget to focus on the hiring organization's point of view.
The Solution: Somehow, you need to turn everything about you, into everything about them. To turn your thinking around a full 360 degrees, take the time to research and identify your targeted hiring organizations' current challenges. Write them down in table format. In the column next to each challenge, write down exactly how you can use your expertise to help them solve their issues. In the third column, include an example of what you've done in the past that supports your claim. This is a good way to start re-focusing yourself on the hiring organization - not on you.
4. Check your ego at the door
The Trap: Everything is a team effort these days. So, when responding to interview questions, we tend to say things like: We achieved a 15 percent increase in sales and we worked together to get it done.
The Solution: Say exactly what you did to contribute to the team's results. By all means, include the "we", but don't forget the "I" when talking about your achievements. In the example above, it's better to say: I helped the team to achieve a 15 percent increase in sales by doing [such and such ...].
5. Wait for someone to tell you you've lost your perspective
The Trap: Believe that you don't sound like every other job candidate.
The Solution: It's hard to look from the inside out without getting a distorted view. But, you need to become aware of how you're perceived by the hiring organization. Otherwise, you won't be able to shift your perspective and talk to prospective employers about how you can meet their needs and challenges with your unique skills and experience. This is very difficult to do yourself unless you've done over and over again. To gain that perspective, you can practice on low-risk contacts such as family members, friends or former colleagues who "listen" to your pitch and provide feedback. But, never be afraid to seek professional guidance from a career specialist - you'll achieve your goals faster - and with less pain.
Consciously recognizing and avoiding each of these traps in your job search process will help you quickly resonate with key people so you can land the job you really want!
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