Ask What You can Do for the Company
Here at the Pace Staffing Network, we often hear the same lament from job seekers over and over again: “I was turned down for a position I really wanted…What did I do wrong?”
Nine times out of ten, a closer look at the applicant’s resume and cover letter will reveal a similar problem, and that problem has to do with what the marketing world calls a “value proposition.” Your resume is a proposal of sorts, or a request, and all effective requests and proposals can be summarized in ten words or less. For example, a company selling a car will research its target audience and present a simple message that appeals to that specific audience, as in “This car will keep you safe”, or “This car will make you look cool in front of your friends.”
Your resume needs a value proposition. And as you put your simple message together, you’ll need to focus on your target audience. Ask yourself what your customer wants, NOT what you want. Don’t think of this as a two-way dialogue, or a negotiation in which you both gain something you need (in reality, that’s what it is—after all, you’ll work hard in exchange for your pay, and you’re not asking for a favor. But before you negotiate the terms of this agreement, you’ll have to edge out twenty other candidates in order to receive an offer.) Instead, figure out exactly what your potential employer wants and make it clear that you can offer this specific service, skill, talent, or attitude.
Focus on Your Value Proposition: What do you have to Offer?
Before you sit down and start typing, think. Read the job posting very carefully, then read it again. Visit the company website and think like a detective. Use your instincts, study the way this company’s business model works, and put yourself in the shoes of the hiring manager who will review your application. If you were in her position, what would you be looking for above all else? Remember these four truths that are very likely to apply to her situation:
1. She’s busy. She’s not going to spend an hour trying to figure out why you’ve suddenly decided to give up your retail career in order to pursue a job in IT. If you’re making this switch, clearly tell her why, and do so within the first three sentences of your cover letter and resume summary section.
2. She has a pile of resumes on her desk from candidates just as qualified as you are.
3. She needs something done that she can’t do herself. That’s why she’s in hiring mode.
4. Her reputation is on the line. If her chosen candidate does well, then she’s done well.
Keep these things in mind as you formulate your value proposition. This simple, short, elegant statement should provide the central framework that supports your entire application. For more guidance on assembling and fleshing out this framework, turn to the Seattle job search experts at Pace.