Job seeking is a tough, time-sucking activity that is a lot of work for very little reward – but alas, it needs to be done. Whether you are looking for a different role or a new opportunity, there are three things that professionals always seem to skip when hunting for a new job; three things that are essential if you actually want to land the position that you want. To help you find (and secure) a new role, there are three top-secret job hunting tips. So far, we’ve covered “getting clarity” in part one of this blog series and “marketing yourself effectively” in part two. Now we move on to tip number three.
By the way, this article comes from a fragment of our The Secrets of Job Seeking In Professional Services Virtual Masterclass. If you want to listen to the whole masterclass, join Progress to Partner for just $1 and get access to the full recording.
Secret 3: sell yourself effectively
Selling yourself effectively is one of the top job hunting tips because the goal at this stage is to convert the job interview into a job offer. You can only do this if you give them a reason to give you the job in the first place and to do that you need to get past your own inhibitions and sell yourself to the interviewer.
Many professionals find blowing their own trumpet and tooting their own horn very difficult, but it’s necessary if you want to be successful in landing a new position. How else is the recruiter or employer supposed to know your strengths and if you’re the right fit for the role?
If you’re naturally self-effacing, the tendency is to downplay your abilities because you either don’t recognise them as anything special or because it feels so unnatural or uncomfortable to ‘boast’ about yourself. While this is understandably difficult, being shy about your abilities isn’t going to get you that job. Standing out and being confident with your strengths will.
How to make sure that you stand out
“You have to stand out” is recurring among the best job seeking advice out there and there’s a reason for that. You need to stand out from the dozens or hundreds of other CVs to get an interview in the first place and then you need to be memorable at the interview to stand out from the other candidates. So how do you do this?
Preparation is key!
You wouldn’t run a marathon without training for it just as you wouldn’t run a meeting without preparing for it, so why would you go to an interview without doing any preparation beforehand? The answer is, you wouldn’t.
Many professionals prepare for their interview, they just don’t prepare anywhere near enough. Did you know that about 80% of your success when it comes to a job interview depends on what you do before you get anywhere into the interview room? Did you know that only approximately 12% of candidates do enough preparation for their interviews which is a minimum of 10 hours?
Whether you did know or you didn’t know, I bet the question on your mind now is “what would I actually do for those 10 hours?!” and that would be a good question. Here is what you should be doing to prepare:
Use the 20:40:40 preparation formula
- 20% of your time should be spent on research – researching the firm, key employees and partners, and media coverage etc.
- 40% should be spent on identifying questions they could ask you and coming up with great answers to those questions – go through the role and highlight key things that they are asking for. You can easily come up with a list of 50-60 questions they could ask.
- 40% of your time should also be spent on practice – carry out mock interviews and voice record or video record yourself answering these questions. It’s really valuable to see how you sit and carry yourself so that you can make positive changes. This is very important in our current situation as people are having to do a lot more remote interviews which they are not used to.
To put it simply, the more you prepare, the better and more naturally you will be able to sell yourself. If you’re used to saying what your strengths are and how they equip you to do certain things, then the less awkward and uncomfortable you will be when you have to do this for real.
For more job hunting tips and job seeking advice, read: A definitive guide to job hunting for lawyers, accountants, and consultants (part 1) and ‘How to sell yourself effectively (part 2)
First impressions really do count
Once you get to the interview itself, the most important thing you must have at the forefront of your mind (especially if it is a remote interview) is that first impressions really do matter.
Some interviewers, particularly if they are inexperienced, tend to form an impression really quickly within the first 2-5 minutes of meeting you. What happens then is that they spend the rest of the interview just going through and confirming their initial assessment. So think about this both before and during the interview!
How would you want them to see you? How are you going to make that initial connection? How are you going to build that initial rapport?
Thinking about this beforehand is really important because it will influence how you carry yourself and how you handle those first couple of questions. Remember, smile more than usual; engage and be enthusiastic.
Examples and stories will help you stand out
One of the top job hunting tips and a great piece of job seeking advice for professionals – especially those who struggle with selling themselves – is to always think about examples. Examples and stories are going to help you stand out and they are going to help you blow your trumpet in a much more natural and comfortable way.
When you’re doing your preparation for your interview, every time you write your answers to your questions, particularly competency-based questions, make sure to think of an example or a story that you can tell to back up what you are saying.
To help you do this, use the burger bun technique. What you do when you use this technique is that you briefly introduce the situation first and summarise what the task was. This is the bottom burger bun which provides the context and lies the foundation for the story. Next, you have the burger which makes up the detail of the story such as what actions you took, how you overcame a certain challenge or how you demonstrated initiative (this should take up 40% of the example as this is you tooting your own horn). Then, lastly, the top bun is the result or the outcome that was achieved which ties all of the story together.
When you do this with all of your answers to your predicted questions, what you’ll have is a bank of examples and stories that will help you to stand out from the others. Essentially, you’ll have the tools that you’ll need to sell yourself in an indirect way but one that is extremely effective.
Start blowing your own trumpet
To sell yourself effectively, you need to be able to toot your own horn and blow your own trumpet. You need to get over your reluctance to do this because if you don’t, you’re putting yourself at a huge disadvantage.
The way to do this naturally and authentically is to prepare as much as you can and to come armed with examples and stories that make you memorable. If you pair this with the other two secrets to successful job seeking – getting clarity on what you want and where you want to go, and marketing yourself effectively – then you will be able to sell yourself effectively at interviews. When they ask you the question “why are you the best candidate for this role?” you won’t be able to help answering in a very assured and confident way, one that will win you that job.
For more job hunting tips (and the other 2 secrets to job seeking), see part 1 and 2 of our blog series or join Progress to Partner for just $1 to get access to the full recording.