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Archive for September 2013

How to Stand Out In a Crowd

Posted on: September 29th, 2013 by Pam Norton 5 Comments

Do you want to stand out in a crowd?  Want your resume to go to the top of the pile?  Want hiring managers to remember you?  Want more fruitful meetings with prospects?  Want your ideas and recommendations to be considered and even adopted?

If the answer is yes, yes, yes, yes YESSSSS!!!! the key is to talk about value.  And don’t just talk about value.  Really understand and ‘own’ the value you create, the value of your product, the value of your solution.

As I work with clients to revise their resumes, prep for job interviews, prep for performance reviews, or prep for big presentations, one thing I notice is that we all talk about what we do.  We might even talk about how we do what we do.  We think that’s what will influence and appeal to the hiring manager, the boss, the prospect, or the executive team.  It’s what we know.  We’re comfortable talking about those things – we could go on and on, and in our heart of hearts we believe that if others fully understood what we do and how we do it, they’d see how awesome we are.

Or if the prospect understood how a product was produced, they’d buy it in an instant.  But the school of hard knocks quickly teaches that this isn’t the case.

I’m reminded of my pet peeve during my corporate job when looking at status reports where project managers (not people on my team) just listed the contents of their calendars for the week:  I went to this meeting on Tuesday, facilitated this other meeting on Wednesday, talked to so-and-so about x, investigated y.

Or resumes.  Here’s what my job responsibilities were and here’s a list of tasks I performed.  Yawn.

If you want to stand out in a crowd, you need to show ‘what’s in it for them.’  It’s Marketing 101 – so basic yet so often overlooked.  Whether you’re looking for a job, selling a product, or promoting an idea, you’ll be more successful if you can help people see the value to them or to the organization.  After all, that’s all they really care about no matter how awesome you are.

If you’re looking for a job, your resume should focus on the benefits past employers got because they had you on their staff.  As Dr. Phil would say, the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.  So list out the benefits (how you created value) backed up by multiple examples, not the features (job duties and tasks you performed).  When someone reads your resume they may be reading about you, but they’re thinking about themselves, it’s basic human nature.  You want them to say, I know what this person can do for me – they’re the solution I’ve been looking for.

Do you create order out of chaos?  What a great statement to put on your resume followed by concrete examples that recap results produced through your efforts.  If someone is wrestling with chaos, you’ll make them sit up and take notice more than if you say you analyze processes using SIPOCs and paredo charts, and facilitate cross-functional work teams to identify best practices…blah blah.  I’m bored just writing that sentence.

Whether you’re selling yourself, a product or an idea, you’ll get to explain the ‘how,’ but only after you’re invited in.

When I start working with a new client, they often claim that they don’t know the value they create – they’re not conscious or aware of it.  They know what they do, but it often takes a game show’s worth of questions to get to the underlying value.  Once we’ve gone through that process of few times, they start paying attention and seeking this perspective.

And wonder of wonders, they’re happier, feel more fulfilled and are often viewed by others as being at a more senior level.

How do you create value?