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Sell yourself: How your job search is like running a business

Robert Half International

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There are many factors that contribute to a business's performance, but, for the most part, success or failure comes down to one thing: How well the company sells a product or service to its customers.

Try approaching your job search the same way. Are you doing an effective job of selling your product (you!) to your customers -- namely hiring managers?

Following are tips you can use to become CEO of your job search and run it like a successful business:

Deliver a clear message

What does this business do? That's often the first question customers ask when selecting a service provider.

Hiring managers ask themselves a similar question when evaluating job candidates. They want to know your story -- what skills and experience you have, what your areas of expertise are and what can you bring to the table.

Ask a friend or colleague to review your résumé, then without looking at the document, briefly summarize the key points. If he or she struggles to articulate the main themes, you may need to make some revisions.

Many job candidates put too much information in their résumés, whether it's a laundry list of routine duties performed in past positions or after-work interests. Take an objective look at your résumé and remove items that don't relate either to your professional abilities or the needs of the company.

Highlight your selling points

In order to stand out, a company needs to play up what makes it better than its competitors.

In this job market, you're in competition with numerous other applicants. Therefore, you need to describe for hiring managers what makes you unique. Do you have in-demand expertise? Years of experience? A proven ability to cut costs or drive revenue?

Look closely at the job ad, as well as the company's website and other materials, to see if you can get a sense of its mission, both for the open job and for the business overall. The better you can explain how your skills will help the firm achieve its mission, the better your chances of being asked to interview there.

Exude professionalism

If you walked into a law firm and saw employees playing video games and foosball in the lobby instead of tending to their clients, you'd probably have doubts about hiring them to represent you. The bottom line: Customers want to deal with a business that behaves professionally.

The same is true of hiring managers. Use your application materials to demonstrate your professionalism. One of the easiest ways to do so: Submit documents that are free of grammatical or spelling errors. It's also important to arrive early and dress appropriately for your interview, and to treat every employee you encounter at the interview with the same level of respect.

Protect your reputation

A company that doesn't properly respond to criticism risks damage to its brand, possibly resulting in lost business. That's why more and more organizations are using social media to respond directly to consumers, correct service issues and protect the company's reputation.

You can use social media to influence your reputation, as well. But be careful. Depending upon how you use it, you might actually harm your reputation. That's why you should always think twice before posting controversial comments to Facebook, blogs or any other public website. Many hiring managers search for information about job candidates online, and you don't want them to find anything that will make them think twice about hiring you.

Of course, social media and other online tools allow you to strengthen your reputation if used correctly. Adding insightful comments to blog posts, following industry experts on Facebook and Twitter, and actively participating in LinkedIn groups are all good ways to distinguish yourself among your peers.

Rely on multiple resources

If a company wants to introduce a new product, it won't rely on a single person to do it. People from several departments throughout the organization need to collaborate to develop the product so it has the best chance to succeed in the marketplace.

Similarly, you shouldn't limit yourself to just one or two resources when job hunting. In addition to relying on job boards, also spread the word about your search within your professional network. In fact, tell everyone you know, unless your job search is confidential. You can also have someone conduct your job search for you. By registering with a staffing firm, an expert recruiter can look for opportunities that match your skill set and ensure your résumé is seen by hiring managers.

Robert Half International is the world's first and largest specialized staffing firm with a global network of more than 350 offices worldwide. For more information about our professional services, please visit www.roberthalf.com. For additional career advice, follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/roberthalf.



Last Updated: 08/03/2011 - 5:59 PM


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