June 16, 2011
Develop your value proposition and set yourself apart
In my career-transition program at ProLango, I tell my students to target a set number of companies. That makes them more focused and strategic, versus spending too much time on job boards that display only advertised openings.
Once they have their list of target companies, the next step is to develop their value proposition. What do they bring to the organization, what problems might they solve or what benefits do they offer that differentiates them from the competition?
Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, recently announced the iCloud content-storage service, coming this fall. iCloud will allow owners of Mac computers to sync their information with their other devices so they can access their files from anywhere whenever they need to.
While having your files at your fingertips is pretty impressive in and of itself, Jobs went a step further and differentiated his service from his direct competitors, Amazon and Google. This allowed him to rid prospective buyers' minds of subconscious questions they would naturally ask when comparing iCloud with other services.
Similarly, you should find a way to introduce yourself to a prospective employer and talk about the problems you would solve or the immediate benefits the company would receive if you were hired. Offer points that set you apart from the masses.
You're probably thinking, "Isn't this for marketers or salespeople? Can't I just apply for jobs online?"
In today's competitive job market, you can't just be a nurse, project manager or accountant; you also need to be an outstanding marketer. You must know how to get an employer's attention and make the company choose you over the hundreds of other applicants. Bonus: Once you're employed, you can use these skills to climb up the corporate ladder.
So how do you develop a value proposition? Here's a template and a sample from Jason Flores, director of marketing for ProLango. Tailor yours to the companies you're targeting; this means you'll need to understand what challenges you can help them with.
Template: "For (industry) companies like (target company) that need (problem you solve), I provide (quantified benefit). Unlike (next-best alternative), I do this by (proof points/examples)."
Sample: "For medium-size technology companies like Tableau Software that need to dramatically increase sales, I provide marketing strategies that typically increase sales more than 30 percent. Unlike many marketers who develop marketing strategies and programs that look good but don't actually drive sales, my strategies produce results.
"I'm able to do that by conducting the market research and segmentation needed to gain critical insights for developing the best marketing strategies and plans, and then flawlessly implementing those plans to exceed sales. This was demonstrated by the Costco-American Express partnership I developed, which resulted in a 33 percent increase of clients in the first year alone and ultimately changed the way AMEX did business."
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
Paul Anderson helps professionals in transition find their desired employment.
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