Show (don’t simply tell) an employer why they should hire you
Job seekers always ask us, “Why don’t my job applications and interviewing skills attract recruiters’ interest?” One of the most frequent answers we give is this: the employer wants to know how you can solve a business need, not read a list of skills and tasks.
A tangible and vivid story
A job applicant is in the sales business and the product you’re selling is your own value as an employee. Imagine the applicant-employer relationship like the one between a car buyer and a salesperson of an automobile.
Here’s the typical applicant strategy: “Please give this car a chance! It’s a team player, a hard worker and really deserves to be your car!”
Versus a strategy based on tangible details: “Consumer Reports gave it an A+ for safety and fuel economy. It gets over 40 miles per gallon, so it will start saving you money the minute you drive it off the lot. And owners of this model spend an average of 30% less on maintenance over five years than owners of competing models in its class, so you know it’s absolutely reliable.”
The difference is the method you’re using to describe your abilities in action. Tell the story. Give real-world examples like the following:
- Instead of saying you know how to use Excel, say that your most recent spreadsheet analysis of Q3 sales numbers allowed you to identify a crucial performance gap and then develop a training plan to address it, achieving an 18% increase in revenue.
- Instead of saying you “are a team player,” explain how you implemented a project-tracking program that allowed your team to achieve its goals three weeks ahead of time, saving your company $8,000.
- Instead of just saying you’re a great salesperson, describe how you met and exceeded your company’s Gold Level sales goals four years running, and won salesperson of the year in 2013.
You get the picture. Just saying you can do the job isn’t enough – you need to prove it. If you have 10 seconds to get an employer’s attention, the first thing they should read about you is your top selling point. Forms of proof you should save and reference in the hiring process are:
- Thank-you cards
- Emails with “kudos”
- Awards and accolades
- Performance reports
- Any ranking reports
- Positive annual reviews
- Selections of completed high-quality projects or works
At AppleOne, we call these bona fides “MSAs,” which stands for “Made/Saved/Achieved.” Your MSAs are your miles per gallon, top safety rating and mechanical reliability – the hard data that recruiters use to evaluate you against competing applicants.
Start an Achievement Journal habit
We recommend creating an Achievement Journal. Whether you are currently working (passive job seeker) or are an active job seeker – this is something you should start doing at your job today.
It’s a file of every “win” you earn at work. Got a nice email or thank-you note about a project well done? Put it in the file. Did you help refine a process, like fulfilling online orders quicker, by implementing a system? Jot down how you did it and the hard stats about how much time and money your improvement is saving.
Update your resume at least twice each year. The best time to document a vivid story is in the moment.
How do I get started?
Well, it’s time to go back through your email history and work portfolio and build out an Achievement Journal based on your prior accolades. Dig through old emails and performance reviews for standout material. Reach out to old employers and request letters of recommendation, or request endorsements on career sites like LinkedIn.
Remember, employers are shopping for the best car, and they’re more likely to believe the positive reviews of impartial third parties (your prior supervisors and coworkers) than they are your own words, since you’re the one selling the car.
Every job has different performance metrics and achievements, and not everyone is a standout superstar every quarter of every year. But by careful data collection and maintenance of work relationships, you can build out your Achievement Journal deeply enough that you’ll be at a distinct advantage over applicants whose entire sales pitch to hiring managers is, “Hire me, I deserve the job!”