Monday, April 15, 2013

What do You Have to Offer? Pt I

That was a rhetorical question; everyone has something to offer. Anyone who wants to work and contribute their abilities is employable and has value and worth. I contend there are no expendable people. What can you contribute, where and how can you apply your skills toward a suitable job, becomes the question. Determining for what you are qualified and capable of doing, together with a knowledge of what it is you want to do, is a personal decision only you can answer. It is surprising how many people, when asked, don’t know what they want to do now or in the future. They seem to be hoping someone else will tell them what’s best. I have met many people at different professional levels who call me for assistance and when I ask the simple opening question, “so, what do you want to do?”, they don’t know. The conversation ends there because until they do know, I can’t help them and they are wasting the time of anyone with whom they speak. Before you call into any company you must be able to answer this question.  

However, let’s assume you’ve thought things through and you do know what you want to do, when the opportunity presents itself, but what will you say? You might now have a name of a hiring official and you may succeed in connecting with them, but when you have your moment, will you capitalize on it and make the most of it, or will you choke? I know of very few people who have the ability to simply wing it and succeed doing things without forethought, by the seat of their pants. Consider that people spend a lot of time on their resume, an item at which someone will briefly glance, but they invest almost nothing in their own abilities. During the interview, your resume doesn’t speak, you do. So, what are you gonna say?

In all my experience the best tried and true, effective presentation template is a F.A.B. presentation. It stands for Feature – Accomplishment (or Achievement) – Benefit presentation. It dates back to the 1960s and is nothing new although most people aren’t aware of it – which translates into an advantage for you. Mix the order up to any way you want, but this is the basis for a good way to introduce yourself in a manner that is short and effectively gets to the point. Meanwhile, other people will ramble on and perhaps say a lot, but communicate little. Hey, I love using the Internet and new technologies, so I don’t think I’m a grumpy old guy when I suggest that technology has made us all lazy, or lazier and, as a result, most people have lost these skills. Make an effort to learn (or re-learn) what were once basic methods of effective interpersonal communication. 

Get a piece of paper and pen and in the left column list the three topics. Then beside each, write short statements that apply to each and list as many as you can. Then, reduce and refine the list. Here is a generic example: 

FEATURE – I am/was the quality control manager for new product component manufacturing

ACHIEVEMENT – I helped the production team reduce waste and increase quality  

BENEFIT – As a result, the company increased quality and reduced waste by 26% in the last 12 months 

Now tie it all together combined with a short introduction, your F.A.B. information and what you seek to accomplish, i.e., meeting, interview, etc. This is your basic personal presentation that you can adapt as you see fit and, depending on the occasion, it will evolve as you progress in your career.  

Don’t short change yourself, this is not something you can complete in 5 minutes or even an hour; it takes time and effort writing a first draft, a second and so forth. Do this until you have refined it to the point of feeling confident about what you have to say and what it is you are offering to a potential employer.  

(Part II will be posted on Thursday)
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  1. Hi Michael,
    I come to this from the other side of the fence - as someone actively involved in recruiting rather than being recruited.
    I find your blog invaluable as a source of analysis and understanding and it's not only helped me improve as a recruiter, it's also helped me improve the quality of candidates that I've hired.

    1. Thank you. While this blog is meant to help individual job seekers indeed, I also recognize that hiring managers and in a larger sense, companies can also benefit from this information. The result is a win-win for both sides, because better informed and prepared applicants and hiring managers result in better decisions - everyone wins.