6 Key Value-Proposition Questions to Understand Your Personal ROI

shutterstock_279619349 (rock climbing)
Think beyond your current experience.

Have you ever defined your highest “value proposition” – both to your current company and in general? It is not always a simple thing to do.

Another way to think about value propositions is to borrow a concept from the investing world. What is your personal ROI? What return on an employer’s investment do you bring? If your total compensation is $50,000, $100,000 or $500,000 a year (plus benefits), for example, is the employer’s investment worth it, and why?

Think beyond your current ROI. Focus not only on the experience you bring and what you have done in the past, but also the greater value you can offer.

We often let our job titles and duties lead our thoughts about our professional net worth, but our true value add to a company is not best expressed by what department we are in or what tasks we have completed. We need to think beyond that and take a look at what problems we solve, what we have accomplished and how we do the job differently (and better) than anyone else who could have held the same role.

Key value-proposition questions include:

1)  How does my role fit into the organization’s big picture?

2) If I left my role tomorrow, what gaps would need to be filled?

3) What have I accomplished in the last 6, 12 and 24 months?

4) Where do I consistently receive positive feedback? Is the feedback meaningful to help me define my unique strengths and talents?

5) What basic needs of my employer do I meet? Providing vision, generating profit, supporting growth, managing risk or something else altogether? Be specific as to needs and how you meet them.

6) Where do I want to move next professionally and how can it benefit me and my current/future employer?

Beyond our current companies, we need to ask how our roles over time fit into our long-term vision for our careers, including our values, talents, strengths, interests, competencies and risk tolerances. Many of us lead careers that we have not fully examined, and therefore miss finding meaning in our careers, which leads to dissatisfaction and ultimately does not let us reach our potential. Defining your value proposition in this larger context helps you understand yourself and your role(s) better, so that not only do you find a better fit, but you are better able to communicate your worth.

This larger definition of value proposition takes more time than most of us are willing to invest, which is why those who do invest that time and energy have a distinct advantage. As you think about your career, what has made you stand out in each of your various roles? Can you tie these together or do you notice a trend?

Takeaway question: are you passionate about the things for which you are known, and if not, how can you become known for the things you are passionate about? 

Even if you are not passionate about all aspects of your job, you can tailor it to bring the role closer to what you do find challenging, interesting and meaningful.

Anne Marie Segal is a career coach and résumé writer for attorneys, executives and entrepreneurs. She is currently completing her first book, on job interviews, which will be available in early 2017. To join her monthly mailing list and receive a preview of the chapter on value propositions, please click here and write “Book Preview” in the comments section.

This post was originally published on LinkedIn.

© 2016 Anne Marie Segal. All rights reserved.
Image from Shutterstock.

 

Avoiding Resume Failure: Four Things Resumes Need to Do

shutterstock_160082594 (dominos)Let’s be very clear, resumes are exceedingly important, but they are not everything. No one’s career chances have ever been made by a resume. You need much more than a great resume to succeed, and your entire value proposition as a candidate or employee is not locked in the document waiting to be read.

On the other hand, while a resume cannot make your career, it can certainly break it. Resumes fail every day. They make a candidate look too scattered, too junior, too specialized or too much of any other trait that is undesirable in general or a particular case and not enough of what an employer actually does want. In the hundreds of resumes I read last year alone, I can say that the greatest point of failure is that the resume writer did not step back and consider what he or she was trying to communicate.

When I say the “resume writer”above, I don’t mean a professional resume writer, who through experience and detachment generally possesses the big-picture perspective. (That’s a large part of why you might hire one.) I mean Joe, Sally, Larry, Latisha, Ricardo, Li-Shin and every other job candidate out there who is writing a resume on his or her own. If Latisha doesn’t put on her “resume writer’s hat” and Larry doesn’t put himself in the shoes of the reader, neither of them will be very effective at communicating through the resume medium.

Why is this task of writing a compelling resume so important? Without exaggeration, millions of employees worldwide are held in the shackles of their current employment, unhappy, unmotivated and unable to move internally or into new jobs, because they have not mastered the skill of communicating their value through their resumes. Millions of others are unemployed or underemployed for the same reason.

You have one or two pages to make your case. Without fail.

THE FOUR THINGS RESUMES NEED TO DO

  1. CONVINCE
  2. THE RIGHT AUDIENCE
  3. YOU ARE COMPELLING
  4. TO INTERVIEW

In certain limited circumstances, as a job candidate you are already a known quantity as a professional, and the resume serves more of a “confirmation” function. Most of the time, however, the resume itself needs to build your case.

In certain limited circumstances, as a job candidate you are already a known quantity as a professional, and the resume serves more of a “confirmation” function. Most of the time, however, the resume itself needs to build your case. As far as we have moved as a society into business-driven social media (LinkedIn profiles, etc.), in most professional fields the resume is still the common currency and core document. We are a long way from the phrase “send me your resume” being replaced with “send me your Twitter feed.”

Resumes fail because they don’t convince the right audience that you are a compelling candidate to interview.

#1 – Know Your Audience

When I work with résumé clients, the first point we tackle is knowing the audience., which is #2 above. To know who is your audience, you need to first know what roles you are targeting. In the attorney field, for example, a litigator resume written to target a law firm won’t convey the key points if the candidate wants to move into an in-house role, public policy, human resources or education. The audience in each case is different, and what is needed to convince your audience that you are a good candidate is decidedly specific to each type of role. If you are writing a resume on your own and in doubt about what your audience is looking for, the first step is to find out as much about the actual “work” of the target position. Job descriptions, informational interviews and other investigatory measures will help you clarify what is expected in each role.

#2 – Convince

Second, once you know your audience, your job is to convince the audience you are a good hire. Too often, candidates try to do this by putting more on the page. They don’t know what to emphasize, because they haven’t taken the time to get to know themselves or their audience, and they expect the reader to sort it out. The resume in that case does not present a logical step-by-step narrative that walks the reader through the candidate’s strengths, talents, experience and value-add. The reader, of course, is busy and has much better things to do, like read the resume of someone who has figured out how to write one properly (or get on with the business of actually working).

How do you convince employers to hire you through your resume? Show them you can solve their problems and capitalize on their opportunities.

You can’t close the deal with readers/interviewers/recruiters/hiring managers/networking contacts if you can’t convince them you are a compelling candidate. And you won’t be a compelling candidate in most cases if you don’t know your own value proposition.

The most compelling way to close the deal is to know the problems, issues, opportunities, strengths, risks, threats, etc. of a particular employer (or class of employers) and present yourself as someone who can solve the problems and capitalize on the opportunities. Here are some concrete examples to make this clear. Imagine you had a class of jobs in front of you, and you needed to figure out what problems needed to be solved in each case: (1) the receptionist of a busy pediatrician’s office, (2) the safety manager at a manufacturing company, or (3) the execution trader for a hedge fund trading international equities. What are the so-called “pain points” of each? Does the doctor’s office need someone client-focused and organized? (Clearly.) Do they need to have experience in a similar setting? (Depends on what else they bring to the table and the employer’s biases, history of hires and successes/failures on that front.) What else does each role require and request of a candidate?

I have worked with many candidates who have not even considered what an employer’s needs are. So many, in fact, that I am no longer surprised by this omission of the key reason that companies hire in the first place – to fill a need.

Let’s think about #2 above for a moment – safety management. Say you want to move into (or move up in) this type of role, which is admittedly a very specific field. Here’s a sample job description (click here) from Lauren, an EPC contractor. If you were serious about this area as one or more possible targets for you, and this employer in particular, I would suggest you read related job descriptions to flesh out how “this type of job works.” While the present blog post is not about how to read a job description (stay tuned, one may follow), let me highlight a few key points that would help your resume communicate that you a compelling candidate for this job or one like it. Start not with the writing, but with the thinking, namely:

(1) What does this employer do? At a very basic level, what is EPC (engineering, procurement and construction), what is the heavy industrial sector, and how does this translate into their day-to-day operations? 

(2) Who are their clients?

(3) What markets do they operate in?

(4) Who are their competitors?

(5) Since they are in a highly-regulated field that affects everything that they do, who are their regulators, what regulations are they subject to, etc.? (Note: see the references to OSHA, for example, in the job description. If you do not know what OSHA is and have not mentioned it on your resume, you will be a very hard sell. Find a cheap training online, at the very least, to get you started, or do the research on your own. In other words, if you don’t have what you need, find a way to get it.)

(6) Note that all of the above points are about the employer. Only after you have considered the macro-view – what are they trying to accomplish and how does that play out? – then ask yourself the question, how does your targeted role serve to lead, manage and/or support the bigger picture? How can you help solve the employers’ problems, issues, opportunities, strengths, risks, threats, etc. How can you make them money, save them money, raise their reputation in the marketplace, keep them out of trouble or otherwise add value to the company?

#3 – Be Compelling

You will notice immediately that this is a completely different approach to resume writing than creating a “laundry list” of what you have done in the past. If you are perceptive, you will also notice that “it’s about them, not about you.” Compelling candidates won’t just want to fill jobs because they need a paycheck. Compelling candidates are compelling because they move beyond what’s in it for them and are focused on what they can do for the employer. (Which is how and why we all get paid, after all.)

If what I am proposing sounds like a lot of work, it is. Yet if you cannot find the energy to be fully engaged at the outset of a job, how will you possibly summon it up once you are in the job? The same attention to getting you hired will keep you employed and progressing along your career. If you don’t have it and cannot create it, you are in the wrong field, industry or life.

Referring back to points 1-7 above, you may ask how each of these are reflected in your resume, which is the decisive question. The art of writing the resume is to translate the employer’s needs (without simply repeating words) to show that you have the “right stuff” to meet their objectives for the role and the company generally. If you are applying to a set of roles that are similar (e.g., safety management roles across a range of companies or industries), the communication of what makes you compelling may be quite similar for each employer that you are trying to “sell” on your candidacy. Keywords play a role, certainly, and the essence of a compelling resume is that it allows the reader to picture you in the role.

The essence of a compelling resume: allow the reader to picture you in the role.

#4 – Focus on Getting the Interview

On the fourth and last point of failure, resume writers often forget that they are generally competing for an interview with their resume, not yet competing for the job. In other words, not every single point about why a company should hire you needs to be in the resume. In fact, it shouldn’t run on that long, lest you run the risk of coming across as a candidate who cannot succinctly and effectively communicate. Remember: the resume is the appetizer, not the meal. Your resume’s job is to convert the recipient of your resume into a reader and then into an interviewer.

Once you have the interview, go back to those 7 points above (and others), and make the same sale all over again. Convince your audience you are a compelling candidate to hire.

Anne Marie Segal is a resume writer and a career and leadership coach to attorneys, executives and entrepreneurs. You can find her website here

WRITING SERVICES include attorney and executive resume, cover letters, LinkedIn profiles, bios, websites and other career and business communications.

COACHING SERVICES include career coaching, networking support, interview preparation, LinkedIn training, personal branding, leadership and change management.

Stuck at the Office? 5 Quick Ways Holiday Downtime Can Benefit Your Career

no meetings

Sometimes, for whatever reason, you’ll be the one stuck at the office in late December while others are away on vacation. You may have even volunteered for it, hoping for a bit of quiet. But then sometimes it’s too quiet….

If there’s not a lot to do workwise – and you have already gotten yourself ahead on some tasks for 2016 – here are some thoughts on how to use that holiday office downtime (other than the trifecta of news trivia, Facebook and online shopping). 

If you can motivate yourself to do it, a few minutes invested now can yield significant benefits in the New Year. Think of it as a present to your future self.

Ready for some ideas? Feel free to add your own.

1) Write yourself a 30/60/90 day plan for 2016. What do you want to accomplish in the first three months of the New Year and who needs to get on-board to make that happen?

2) Brainstorm for leadership opportunities within or outside of your organization, such as speaking engagements or writing.

3) Write down five words to describe your personal brand, and check your online presence to see if it matches what you have described.

4) Clean out some portion of your inbox. If it’s very full, don’t have the goal of emptying it all at once. Great an interim goal – say 250 emails – and try to make it into a game or find a helpful reward if you get it done.

Bonus: If you are even more motivated, get up from your desk and clean out some files you don’t need any more. N.B. This has the added benefit of getting your tush out of the chair and some blood flowing to your extremities.

5) Have lunch (or a short phone call) with an important networking contact. If the opportunity presents itself, ask him/her if there is anyone else he/she can introduce who can bring you closer to your 2016 goals.

All the best for the end of 2015!

Anne Marie Segal is a résumé writer and a career and leadership coach to attorneys, executives and entrepreneurs. You can find her website here.

WRITING SERVICES include attorney and executive résumés, cover letters, LinkedIn profiles, bios, websites and other career and business communications.

COACHING SERVICES include career coaching, networking support, interview preparation, LinkedIn training, personal branding, leadership and change management.

Originally published on LinkedInPulse.