In my 25-plus years in different hiring manager positions for Fortune 500 companies, I have identified three variables that are of paramount importance for developing a successful career strategy or receiving a job offer: (1) How well your value (the benefits of your expertise, accomplishments) addresses the hiring manager’s issues and needs, and (2) the strength of the continuum of belief (those elements of value you provide) you establish with the hiring manager as you proceed through the entire hiring process; and (3) your value proposition, which is simply a promise of value to be delivered to a specific audience. These three variables work together to help create and promote your professional brand.
Your Future Value to the Hiring Manager
Communicating your value to hiring managers is first conveyed in a cover letter. You have less than 7 seconds to get that hiring manager’s attention and you must get to the point immediately in your first sentence. What gets the attention of hiring managers most are the future benefits of your expertise, not the features of your past experience. In other words, your cover letter must have a tone that says, “here’s what I can do for you going forward,” and not simply a summary of your résumé. The purpose of the cover letter is to get the hiring manager to look at your résumé, so “sell the sizzle” of your expertise there.
A résumé that communicates your value to hiring managers is one that focuses on accomplishments and achievements more so than duties, responsibilities, and task completions – because everyone has duties and responsibilities. A résumé full of “duties and responsibilities” conveys your status to a hiring manager as just another potential employee looking for a job. Hiring managers want to bring on board problem solvers and experts with a track record of accomplishment.
You can’t just say “I have a proven track record” in your cover letter and then not have any accomplishments (preferably quantified accomplishments) to back up that statement. Hiring managers always look for the evidence on your résumé. And a reminder: completing a task associated with a duty or responsibility is NOT an accomplishment, yet I see this error all the time with many of my career strategy clients.
Becoming the hiring manager’s candidate of choice requires a basic understanding of an important marketing principle: Value is what connects the person with a need (the hiring manager) to the person who can fulfill that need (you, the candidate). It’s the same whether you are selling vacuum cleaners, cars, or your professional expertise. Doesn’t matter to the person buying a new vacuum cleaner or a new car how many vacuum cleaners or cars you sold in the past; what counts is can you address the cleaning requirements, transportation needs, or other issues of that person going forward – whether that’ s a customer or a sales manager. If the person with the need perceives and believes that you offer real value, you have fulfilled that need and can make the sale—or receive the job offer.
The next post will address the second factor for getting a job offer: Establishing a “Continuum of Belief.”