“I want …”
Your marketing message, your résumé, your cover letter, etc. should all be focused on what THE OTHER PERSON wants, not on what you want. Your goals will come out in the process of the discussion, but you want to be sure that the emphasis is on why I as the listener or reader should be excited about helping you achieve those goals.
One example is the “Objective Statement” many candidates use to open their résumés. An objective is all about you, not about what you can do for me. For a more complete discussion of why these are counterproductive on your résumé, see http://www.jhacareers.com/ObjectiveInResume.htm.
Here’s one example, from a real résumé I received:
To utilize acquired skills leading and supporting cutting edge system development and implementation efforts to further my management career within the Insurance/Financial Services Industry.
What message does that send to the hiring manager who reads it?
Including what you want somewhere in your message is OK, as long as you do it in a way that shows why you would be an outstanding candidate for it - then it’s making it interesting to the listener / reader. It’s equipping them to know how they could help you or refer you.
Just be sure to do it later in your message, after you’ve engaged them.
The best result comes if you only get to what you want in response to the other party’s follow-up question…
“I’m a results-oriented professional…”
or this variation:
“Proven results in…”
These are used all the time in résumés and cover letters, or even in oral 30 second pitches…and they do absolutely nothing for you.
Remember the adult voices on all the Charlie Brown specials, how they were purposely designed not to be understood? That’s basically what empty phrases like these sound like; all the other party reads or hears is “blah, blah, blah.”
The problem is that these are just statements that you produce results, instead of demonstrations. It’s easy to simply say you produce results or are results-oriented, and saying it doesn’t make it true, or make me any more likely to believe it.
Instead, give concrete examples of the results you produce. Let the readers and listeners conclude from your examples that you are ‘results-oriented’, instead of trying to hit them over the head with it.
For example, if I was trying to show someone that I was “results-oriented,” instead of:
“I have proven results in helping my clients with their job searches.”
This would be much more powerful:
“Kevin had been out of work for 2 years, and within a few months of working together was back at the job and pay he deserved. And a simple technique I showed him earned him an additional $10,000 of base salary.”
“Tom had 15 months of interviews without a single offer. Within 1 week of attending my Winning Interviews course, he was weighing 2 competitive job offers.”
So strike empty statements that say you have results from your repertoire, and instead show the proof of the results.
And have a Happy New Year!
“I can work in any industry”, or providing in your message 2 or 3 different industries as your targets.
Candidates who say this may think they are keeping their search open, but they are actually closing it down. It has the same problem as “I have transferable skills” - it sounds like you are unfocused, and are willing to work in any industry if I’ll just consider you for a job.
You might think you are displaying confidence through your willingness to apply your skills in a variety of industries. Exactly the opposite is true. You come across as lacking the confidence to present a specific target industry, perhaps even a bit desperate.
Think niche marketing. The strongest marketing efforts are tailored very specifically to a target. The same is true in your search - the more focused you appear to be, the more likely it is that I will pay attention and be engaged by your message.
This doesn’t mean you can’t be open to other industries, jobs, etc., but you will never get my attention if you start by providing a laundry list of what you might be open to. Once you have my attention, and the conversation leads to a discussion about another industry, type of company, job, then you can pursue that with me. If you never get my attention in the first place, you will never have the chance to have that conversation.
In my travels, I get to hear and see a lot of elevator pitches, marketing messages, sales pieces, cover letters, résumés, engagement bios, etc. Most of these include phrases that range from meaningless to unhelpful to seriously detrimental to any attempt to market yourself or your practice.
Over the next several weeks, I’m going to publish my thoughts on many of these. I invite your comments, and suggestions as to other phrases that frustrate you. Drop me an email at John@JHACareers.com, or simply insert your phrase in a comment here, and I’ll promote it to a new topic.
OK, here’s the first:
“I have transferrable skills.”
Ask yourself what the potential hiring manager or networking contact is hearing.
“I hope someone will consider me for something that my skills might apply to.”
“I don’t have confidence to present myself directly for a role I might want, so I’ll simply say my skills are transferable.”
“I’m not willing to commit to any one thing.”
Not exactly awe-inspiring messages, are they?
Instead of saying this, come up with a description of the type of problem you can solve with those ‘transferrable skills’, as relevantly as you can make it to your ideal target area, and then talk about that!