Blog 5 – The Product
How to Sell Brand:You
This aspect of job hunting is often overlooked for a few reasons which I want to initially confront head-on.
This is about how you position yourself in the job market, and how you want the job market to see you.
Branding is a very powerful activity that allows you to not only achieve control and consistency of message but to gain clarity on the activities you’re doing to find this next job. It gives you a ‘why’ to build from. Why are you applying to a job, why do you focus on specific areas in interview answers etc…
As I’ve mentioned in this blog series, the job market is like a map. Maps only work if you know where you are going and have an idea of how you will get there.
This blog covers the second part of that situation.
First of all, sales has always had a rough image.
At it’s worst I can attest it can be an embarrassing and awkward activity. If you decide this is what it’s going to be, then 100% this will be your experience.
At its best it is genuinely pitching outcome-changing solutions to clients.
You can guess which side of the fence I want us all on.
Attitude is important here, you have to believe in the outcome that you are going for. So, there is nothing wrong (and everything right!) with selling when it is done right, and working hard to brand and pitch yourself to get the job you want is time well spent.
Sales and pitching is a controllable, surprisingly scientific field.
It is part psychology, part mathematics and part good-manners. Every single aspect of how you present yourself or any future product is something you can plan and control. So, I am going to now condense 17 years of studying sales and building my business into the next 900 words to help you out.
First of all, an exercise.
I want you to consider what the answers are to a few questions and perhaps write these down:
- What is your career situation and what are you looking for. Why are you here. Why did you write your CV. Why read this blog. What do you want?
- What tangible skills do you have that will connect you to that job
- What personality / behavioural skills do you have that will connect you to that job
- What other aspects make this possible for you (do you drive, can you relocate easily)
- What fundamentally interests you about the field you want to go for. What got you here?
Now I want to flip this on it’s head. Take the above list of skills, behaviours, passions, drivers and qualifications you just wrote down.
Make a two column list one titled “Good” other “Not So Good” (NSG)
In the NSG column write all the things you need to work on or develop, the skills you have less confidence in, maybe your market knowledge, maybe your network or other things.
I have such a list on the back of my door in the office at home on A1 paper.
These are the areas I work on. I improve until they aren’t a problem anymore.
While understanding-and-keeping the ‘good’ good.
This is how I developed the brand, this is how any of us develop in our own space.
We identify what it is we want to be more-like and make efforts to be as such.
Now give yourself some congratulations. By reflecting on the goods and not-so-goods you have begun to develop your own brand. Your piece of paper will look different to mine they are all individual, hence this isn’t the usual blog of “do this do that” we are now at the stage where you’ve had enough telling it’s time for you to do.
You see if you started to read this thinking it would have the answers then I need to disappoint you, brands are a Verb.
They are an action - they are never ‘done’.
Rolex is not ‘done’ branding itself now that it is in the top 10 global brands, Coca Cola is not ‘done’ branding itself because it’s the worlds most recognised symbol. You will never be ‘done’ with this either, however if you control this then you will have better direction, better outcomes and better answers in interviews.
Next I want to look at alignment of brand with opportunity. Time to look at the role you are trying to get into.
Lets say it’s an Analytical Chemistry job for the sake of this blog and my market but we could pick any job in any profession.
How do you build a your pitch to appeals to that job.
Well, now I’d like you to put yourself in the shoes of the hiring company. What would be on their own ‘good/not so good’ list when thinking about their new hire?
- Skills (usually these are critical so HPLC, GC, IR, UV)
- Industry knowledge (GMP, GLP, ISO, FDA, MHRA)
- Qualification (BSc / MChem / PhD)
- Availability (ideally based in the local area or able to drive to them)
- Communication skills
- Experience in the same kind of job
- Hard working and professional
By reflecting on the above, what the company wants, and also considering how you will proactively provide evidence of matching, you are building a controllable pitch. Also remember the oldest piece of sales advice in the world:
“Nobody wants a quarter-inch drill bit. They want a quarter inch hole.” What I mean by this is every hiring manager ultimately wants the work done, not every last element of their ad matching. Some areas can be flexible others simply can’t be. Ultimately this is about getting the job done – someone capable hired into the job.
Consider the WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) about hiring you. What problems do you perhaps solve by taking this job. Is your knowledge of some of the techniques good enough, can you show this on the CV / cover letter and emphasise this?
Also remember from the earlier blog how any human decision is structured - the brain goes AIDA (Analysis, Interest, Desire, Action).
By building what you proactively do around these two psychological models, again you take control of your actions very tangibly.
Also if asked about these fields, you will have an understanding of what the strength-areas are to pitch to the client and show your best side.
Some elements are difficult to master some are easy.
For example – You can come over as hard working and professional by writing a detailed cover letter with good written presentation and a highly polished CV, wearing a suit and tie to the interview and having a polite manner. Act like you imagine a professional acts and you’re 90% of the way there.
On the other hand we have Skills, again in your control you have the training and the notes from the course on your computer so you can read back on this anytime. Industry knowledge will not be high but what is stopping you from subscribing to the free trade-journals in the Chemistry market and perhaps even dropping into conversation that you’ve read about something in them?
Now, both ‘Professional Experience’ and ‘Industry Knowledge’ would likely be in the NSG column from above at age 22 (which is where this blog is aimed) having just graduated simply as the experience hasn’t happened yet. Not your fault at all however once you identify this you will be able to take proactive action to do something about it.
By doing the above and then giving yourself regular self-check audits, you will work ahead in this.
So, consider your impact, after all, it is impossible to not communicate, so you may as well communicate in a positive, impactful and winning manner.
That concludes this blog series, I will be (virtually) taking this on the road and delivering extracts from this at two events for Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Central Lancashire. I will also try and have a YouTube recorded of these in due course my channel is linked below.
MMU - 21st January
UCLAN - 11th February
Good luck and comments are always welcomed!
All view my own.