There is one piece of conventional job search wisdom that I hear constantly that drives me crazy, especially when it comes from “job search professionals” who should know better.
Specifically, I am talking about the conventional wisdom that says: in job search, “you gotta sell yourself”…I can hear some of you asking, “Well Tom, what’s wrong with selling yourself?”
Here’s the long answer to that question:
The problem with conventional wisdom is, whether it’s true or not, everyone believes it, and uses it as a cornerstone to build upon…now, some oft – repeated nuggets o’ wisdom are actually helpful, such as “look before you leap”…others, such as “nice guys finish last” and “you gotta sell yourself” are actually destructive to your goals, yet everyone repeats and follows the advice like lemmings…and we know what happens to lemmings, don’t we?
“Selling yourself” creates a barrier between you and the person you are trying to reach…think about it – how much do like being approached by a salesman? Even if he or she looks nice, and promises a product or service that will solve a problem that you really do have, you still have the tendency to push away and be suspicious…and don’t get me started on intrusive telemarketers…they intrude into your day, not knowing or caring anything about you or your actual needs, they just push, push push..
If that sort of behavior bothers you when it’s directed at you, why oh why would you express the same behavior as a job seeker?
Here are some examples of how job seekers “sell themselves”, thinking they are doing things right:
1) “If you hire me, I’ll do a great job, trust me”
2) “I have a lot of references who can vouch for me”
3) “My resume / education / pedigree speaks for itself”
Notice a pattern? All of these a focused on how great you are, or why they can’t live without you…now, it may be that you walk on water and carry your own lake to prove it, if that’s you, you shouldn’t be reading a job search blog, but if you aren’t mister perfect, here’s a hint:
Telling everyone you are a perfect fit (and repeating the point throughout the interview), is a sure fire way to get them to dislike you…telling them “If you hire me, you”ll see how good I really am,” is asking them to blindly trust an unknown quantity called YOU, and who does that? Of course you are going to tell them about yourself, and what you have to offer, but you must do it within the context of THEIR needs, not yours.
This is called strategic positioning…many job seekers miss this – you aren’t only being judged on your “pedigree,” but you are also being assessed for how you meet their needs, likeability, and how well you “fit”…they all go together.
Ask questions and learn, and then speak. This promotes understanding and further meetings, and further meetings lead to job offers…following the conventional wisdom of “selling yourself” will give you a lot of superficial meetings with a quick exit from the process. Your focus should always be on uncovering needs and addressing them, not trying to outshine or outsell other jobseekers.
Until next time, I wish you all the best.
Thomas Patrick Chuna is a certified Five O’Clock Club job search coach.
The Five O’Clock Club is a nationally recognized outplacement firm with a proven job search methodology that helps job seekers get better jobs faster.
The Five O’Clock Club also provides affordable, humane outplacement services to companies who care about the well being of their employees.
Tom is also an experienced independent recruiter specializing in molecular oncology research scientists & MD’s.
Learn more: http://www.fiveoclockclub.com http://www.patrick-international.net