“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!
Here’s a quote from a column by Michael Port, the NY Times bestselling author of Book Yourself Solid, in the December issue of Entrepreneur magazine. The title of the column: “Keep Your Cards To Yourself.”
“Don’t share your business card. Take some contrarian sales advice: Never give out another business card again (unless someone asks for it, that is). Ask them for their card without reaching for yours. Simply ask permission to follow up with a call or e-mail on a specific date and/or time. Imagine what happens when on that very day (and perhaps even at the precise time) you follow through and do exactly as promised….Your first interaction with this new person is based entirely around an experience when you’ve made a promise and fulfilled it.”
Michael makes 2 critical points here that exactly match what I tell my clients:
1. It doesn’t matter how many cards you give out. People who wander around a networking event giving out lots of business cards rarely are effective networkers.
What matters is the cards you get, from people with whom you’ve had enough of a conversation to build some R&R (rapport and relationship).
How much R&R?
My guideline is that it should be enough that I feel confident this person will take my call and agree to meet me for coffee.
2. Whenever you have an important interaction with someone (a 1-on-1 networking meeting, a job interview, a sales call, or even just sending a letter requesting a meeting), leave yourself with both an action step YOU will take, and an explicitly communicated time frame when you will take that step.
This lets you do exactly what Michael is suggesting above, build the opportunity for interactions based on you making a promise and then fulfilling it.
When you meet with me, and tell me that you will call me on Monday to follow up on that contact you promised me, I may get busy and forget what you told me. However, when you do, in fact, call me on Monday as you promised, I will remember it. I will see you as someone who makes and keeps promises, the sort of person I want to work with.
Keep both of these points front of mind in everything you do.
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