This blog, in a slightly different format, was originally posted on LocalWork.com.
Until the Great Recession, I never had to look for work. When I was in college, I needed beer and pizza money so I answered an ad in the student newspaper. I was screened, hired, trained, and began working that same day. Within six months I received two promotions so I decided to stick with it after graduation. A few years and a few more promotions later I received a call from a headhunter offering a chance to do more of what I liked to do and less of what I didn’t like to do at twice the pay, so I took it. I continued my upward movement over the next few years until finally, in 2009, I was let go during a company merger. For the first time ever, I had to learn how to job-search.
My first and most important lesson:
It’s not about me.
It is about what companies need and the benefits I can bring to them.
Companies do not hire out of compassion. They may feel for you on a human level, they may wish they can do something to end your unemployment, but their business is not to create employment opportunities. Their business is to increase profit for the shareholders.
A company increases profit by one of two ways: by increasing sales, or by decreasing costs. Companies hire, then, based on their belief that you can help them, increase sales or decrease costs (or, ideally, both).
The average job seeker talks about their experiences and job responsibilities.
The successful job seeker demonstrates in their sales pitch/elevator speech, their resume and cover letter, and in the interview that they have experience in increasing sales and/or decreasing costs.Be as specific as possible. Use numbers. If you can put a dollar sign in front of the number, or a percent sign after, then so much the better.
- You didn’t just create a marketing campaign. Instead, you created and managed a $1.7million marketing campaign that led to a 12% increase of sales year over year.
- You weren’t just an administrative assistant. Instead, you increased efficiency by automating a reporting technique, resulting in 4 hours per week of saved time.
- You weren’t just a cook. Instead, you prepared 400 meals per weeknight and 600 meals per weekend with a 50% decrease in dinners being returned.
- You didn’t just work in a warehouse. Instead, you consistently exceeded packing and shipping goals and had zero returns for incorrect product.
If I was an employer, and you gave me one of those examples, you would have my attention. I would want to know more.
It is no question that job searching is tough. But you can be better than the average job seeker and give yourself the best opportunity for success, if you always remember:
It’s not about me.
Success doesn’t come to you. You go get it.