Every industry is different and requires specific qualifications and experience in order to move into, or move up in, a career. But what you have to offer a company really doesn’t matter if you don’t know how to market it; you’ll never get far enough to prove it. If you create a beautiful painting, a masterpiece, but when a potential buyer asks to see it, you fumble around, muttering, “I know it’s around here somewhere…”, you obviously won’t make the sale.
“Selling yourself” is an expression that may not sound ideal to you — some people equate selling with manipulating or lying. That’s not the intent. To sell yourself well means to properly demonstrate what you have to offer and how all of that can benefit the person you’re pitching it to, in order to put yourself in the position to do what you’re promising: a good job.
Some people are natural-born salespeople. Some have to learn. Follow these steps and walk into your next interview or evaluation with a full gallery to impress any critic.
1. The best of
What are three things you think you can do better than most people? Maybe even better than anyone? This could be what comes naturally to you or what you have worked to learn. Either way, you need a place to start the conversation and it needs to be with a clear, concise list. These three words are a great starting point for what you bring to the table.
2. Elevator pitch
Take your three words and expand on them. Assuming that you have a short opportunity to catch someone’s attention (like the 10 seconds it takes to ride an elevator), you need to use this first impression to get out exactly who you are and what you do — preferably how you do this differently than anyone else who is a writer/publicist/event planner/whatever. Start by writing a full paragraph, then do some editing. A three-sentence blurb is more than enough. No flowery language — even if you’re a writer. Just get straight to the point.
3. Show results
Okay, so you’re out of the elevator and have more time to showcase your skills. You want to get really specific. You have experience doing X, but you need to show how X benefited companies in the past — whether current or previous. Have you seen a certain percentage of growth by social media based on your campaigns, which has in turn grown the company’s consumer base? Have your revamped designs driven more traffic online and resulted in increased sales? Did your project management help with show flow at an event, driving customer satisfaction? Create one to two sentences that illustrate cause and effect in at least three examples. Companies like education. What they love are results.
4. A seat at the table
This one has to do with confidence. If you walk into the room feeling like you’re asking for a favour, it will come across to a boss, or potential boss, right away. If you’re fully prepared and can list exactly who you are, why you’re different, how that difference is an asset, then the last step is just believing that you belong — that you deserve to be at the table.
Knowing this and showing it without attitude comes across as true potential. Those who are going places aren’t surprised by the destination; they chose the road.
Senior Coordinator of Program Development by day, freelance writer/editor/researcher by night, Dana Marie Krook is a firm believer in “having it all” — which, of course, means chasing your dreams, your bucket list, and your cupcake craving as far as necessary. She loves word games, yoga, running, and superhero movies, but would trade it all for the chance to see her first YA novel on the shelves of a bookstore.