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When you’re in the running for a job, how do you set yourself apart from the pack and pull ahead as the clear winner?

Your skills and experience may be comparable to other candidates, but the ability to seal the deal lies in how well you sell yourself. A salesperson’s livelihood depends on the sale of their product to their customer. In this case, the product you’re selling is yourself – and the customer is the hiring manager on the other side of the table.

As noted by Arthur Denny Scott, senior vice president of personnel at Goldman Sachs and Company, “Going to the right college or even having the right skills isn’t enough anymore. You have to be a salesperson – and I don’t mean a huckster. I mean you’re going to have to market your ability to contribute to the organization.

Relate Your Accomplishments to the Job

As you sell yourself, you’ll achieve the most success by positioning your product and its benefits relevant to the needs of the buyer. In other words, present specific examples of past achievements that produced measurable results.

  • Tell compelling stories. Research the employer beforehand and find their pain points. Write down a list of your proudest career accomplishments. Then, tie the two together. Determine how you can be the solution to a current company problem. Demonstrate this during your interview as you segue from bullet points in your resume.
  • The keyword is “relevancy.” Critically evaluate the key transferable skills you have which will add significant value to your prospective employer. Candidates tend to focus too much on presenting their past responsibilities and not enough on describing their achievements. The secret to effectively marketing yourself is to use your previous success stories to convince the hirer that you have the knowledge, skill set and expertise to help them move forward.

Situations, Actions and Results

Use the Situation, Action and Results (SAR) approach to sell yourself as someone who recognizes the importance of solving problems, motivating others and formulating effective solutions.

For instance, your situation in a prior job may have been declining sales in a certain product line. Your action as a product engineer was to quarterback a team by conducting customer research and determining which new features were desired. Then you developed a better product and set new pricing. The result was a 20 percent increase in sales during a single fiscal year.

You can use SAR in whichever scenarios relate to a particular position. For example:

  • When demonstrating communication skills, tell how safety incidents skyrocketed in a one-week period at your manufacturing plant. Your action was to immediately implement area manager safety talks in all areas of the factory and lead teams of employees to visit sites where accidents occurred. As a result, the plant achieved its target of zero safety incidents for the ensuing month.

Emphasize Your Leadership Skills

The SAR approach is highly effective for showcasing your leadership abilities. Talk about experience you’ve had building and leading teams, motivating groups and delegating action items.

  • What did your team accomplish under your leadership?
  • How did you spearhead the group in solving a problem and achieving measureable improvement?

Additional qualities that denote leadership are:

  • Cross disciplinary skills: As stated by leadership consultant Scott McDowell, “being great at one discipline probably got you to the party; proving your breadth will keep you there.”
  • Navigating ambiguity: This is the ability to make decisions and move projects forward without a lot of information. It involves thinking on your feet and making good decisions, even in challenging environments.
  • Getting things done: Having great ideas isn’t enough. Being able to work with others and persevere yourself to realize those ideas is the quality sought by prospective employers.

Partner With a Pro

An executive search consultant can help you define and portray your best transferable skills as you prepare for job interviews. Contact BrainWorks to learn more.


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