Imagine you are in front of a hiring manager.
This is your golden opportunity to present your case for candidacy. It’s what you’ve been waiting for. You finally get your chance to explain why you are the best person for the job because of your unique combination of skills and experience.
But you ramble.
You just can’t seem to reign in all the components of your argument for selection.
You don’t get the job, and you beat yourself up because you know you were right for the role. But darn it! You just couldn’t cohesively explain why. And you don’t know how to fix this for next time.
The answer probably lies within the months that you spent searching among the job ads for that role that seemed right. You probably did what many people in a career search do: You compared your list of qualifications against the job posting, checked them off, and applied.
This certainly is an approach. Meeting the stated requirements is an aspect of suitability. But it’s not the whole picture, because you’re overlooking something fundamental.
You’re forgetting your “why.” You are failing to consider why you do this work in this industry. What drove you there? What has motivated you? What is your mission?
The idea of considering your “why” was popularized by Simon Sinek, a British-American author, motivational speaker, and organizational consultant. Sinek makes the case that knowing what inspires you to do something is crucial for success and leadership.
Sinek pointed out that most companies and people know what they sell or the job they perform and how those things make them special or different, but few know or articulate the purpose, cause, or belief that inspires them.
Those who do make a deeper impact.
Consider a well-known company like Nike. Why do you buy its shoes and gear? I can tell you very briefly: Because the gear is inspiring. When you wear it, you feel like you can do anything. Hence, the slogan, “Just Do It.”
Now, imagine what Nike’s sales might have been like if its message were something like, “Shoes worn by successful, confident athletes.” Maybe you might want to buy them. But aren’t Adidas’, New Balance’s, and Puma’s shoes also worn by successful athletes? What sets Nike apart?
The same goes for a candidate for a job.
Consider someone in financial services.
This professional might (and probably does) go into a job interview feeling bolstered by their list of competencies, and some stories about leading teams, managing projects, and fixing some of the processes in their current company to save time and money.
But there are probably other people in the candidate pool who did those or similar things.
What sets that person apart?
Consider that this person’s special interest is climate change. They post frequently about it on social media and recently participated in a neighborhood reuse-and-recycle campaign.
And let’s suppose that the candidate has thought about the type of company and workplace they prefer, and realize they want to work with people who share their values. To ensure this, the candidate might emphasize an interest in sustainability by using the self-descriptive, mission-driven phrase “Invest, Impact, Innovate” when introducing themselves.
The phrase also could be on a resume, if it is going to a company that is known for embracing these values.
Right away, the candidate is appealing to the hiring manager more directly.
You might be thinking, “But that’s pandering!”
Well, yeah. It kinda is.
But the whole reason you’re in front of the organization is to sell yourself. Just like a product. You are the product.
And when you tap your values, you aren’t exaggerating or lying. You are highlighting your “why” and seeking to match theirs.
It’s a great way to ensure that you find a role that fits you.
Here’s an exercise you can try to help you find your why. I take inspiration not only from Sinek, but also from Michelle Mazur, a marketing consultant who helps clients find their “3-word rebellions,” which are core messages boiled down to a phrase of three words or less. Some famous examples of this type of marketing are Black Lives Matter and #MeToo (and Nike’s “Just Do It.”).
Here’s how you can do this:
- Understand and rank your values. What qualities do you like to see in others around you? What governs your treatment of people and your decisions? Values include things like honesty, integrity, respect, compassion, creativity, and authenticity.
- Identify the connection between your values and the work you prefer.
- Using the lens of these values, determine why you have chosen this work. What impact are you seeking to make?
- Now pick some active words that describe the impact.
The process of distilling your aspirations into a three-word statement forces you to think deeply about what you really want from your career. This clarity can guide your decisions and actions as you navigate your career transition.
When you summarize your values and explain your “why” to an employer using a simple phrase you can make a strong impression and succinctly convey your career goals.
Your professional “Three Word Rebellion” can help you communicate your unique value proposition, declare what sets you apart in the job market, and make you more memorable to potential employers or network connections.
I can help you think through your values, as well as your top strengths and skills, especially the skills you enjoy versus the ones that burn you out. It’s all part of the YouMap process! Set up a call with me and I can explain how this process will help you find a job you love much faster.