As the New Year is here many of us will be thinking about a fresh start at work, or that next exciting career challenge. This of course means starting the arduous job search and that dreaded interview process. However, do you know the real added value of what you do or advantage you possess? Its a question I ask my clients all of the time. As its a way of looking behind the smoke and mirrors of why people do what you do.
In this article I will highlight how this can make a significance difference to your job search and interview focus. I will demonstrate that its the added value you bring to the business, that can make or break your next career move. It’s all about how you can change the organisation for the better, increase revenue, speed processes up or just add a different dimension to the organisation not had before. Its not about your personal work values. You know the things that help define your work and the reasons for doing the job you do. Its more about how are you going to add value to the employers business. Thus demonstrating that you are the right fit for the job, is focussed on the needs of the business/organisation and will improve the way that it operates.
You know the star quality that you possess of course. Its more about learning how to showcase your magnificence and the advantage you have over your competitors for the role. So pop your superhero outfit on and buckle up the jet pack; as this article might just give you those missing value added elements. It just might be the necessary factor you need to smash your next interview right out of the park and get than the new job.
The Dreaded Job Search & Interviews
Most of us take comfort preparing for the job search and interview by scrolling through reams of literature about the company on-line. Maybe listening to wise words (from me of course) on how to conduct great interview, watch videos on You Tube or perhaps Linked In. You can spend some of your hard earned cash at your local bookshop (never a bad thing) and read about the importance of a clean shirt and tie. Shine your shoes or wear a smart frock that covers the knees.
Assuming you know how to dress yourself appropriately and you have learnt how to use your smart phone for basic research methods we are on our way. Hold on a minute though, I say save your time and consider this one career management tool instead. Demonstrating your value that you bring to the party, can help you nail almost every interview you attend. Provided you can effectively present this vital component of what you do.
Finding your Career Added Value
It may sound obvious but it’s amazing how many people forget this important element of their careers and work. When we actually stop and think about what we bring to our work and how we describe it, it’s never as easy as it sounds. Every interviewer, no matter how experienced is looking for that magic ingredient. They are looking for you to promote the simple fact of how you can help their business or organisation improve. Needless to say, if you can’t explain your added value, you will almost certainly fail at securing that new role.
Where you have achieved most
The simplest way to think about this is to picture an interview for the stereotypical Salesperson. This is the most straightforward value based interview process there is. Assuming the Salesperson demonstrates the right behaviours and cultural fit, it is all about their value and their value is the sales for the business. “If you recruit me, I will use my skills, knowledge, experience and network to deliver £*** of revenue in the next 12 months”.
There will no doubt be a track record of success to back up your proud achievement statement. The interviewer can begin to see the cost (and the value) to the business of employing that person. The cost of any other sales activity they need to support their revenue generation for their business. Then they may compare the sum to their revenue figure and there is the value. If the financial outcome represents what the company is looking for, that Salesperson will probably get the job. Employers buy your time to add value to their business and to support the capital of the organisation. Kind of how work works really.
However, we cannot all be Sales People, so how do the rest of us do it? Check out these steps and you may be a step closer to nailing that next interview.
Creating your Value Package
1) Income Generation, Improving Quality, Process Speed – which one best describes your value?
Our Salesperson scenario, noted above, fits into the Income value category. This is not the case for everyone and it definitely isn’t what all interviewers are looking for of course. If the company has poor customer service but lots of cash for example, they will be looking for people to make things better = quality. If the organisations processes are hugely inefficient and they need to improve, they will be looking at people to help speed it all up. So begin to focus on which one is at the core of the value you bring.
2) Review the job specification – how does the “added value” you bring match the job?
When you read the job specification or advertisement for the job, what elements of it attracted you to the job? How does your value deliver against the person & job specification? This could also be the time to rule yourself out and move on if you can’t make this match. Unless you can of course make a compelling case for your transferable skill set. If you are all about making business process improvement (Quality and/or Speed) and the advertisement is for Sales (Income). You may well be wasting your time and opening yourself up to the disappointment and a knock to your confidence.
3) Prepare, prepare and then prepare some more.
As soon as you finish reading this article, grab a friend or colleague and describe your career and workplace added value to them. You’ll then begin to see how hard it is and why you will need a career coach to help you along the way. Begin to prepare your value statement and then refine it until you have a targeted self contained message.
Start with a pen and paper and jot down your core value word at the top (Income, Quality, Speed or whatever heading you feel appropriate) and then list all the things you do/can do that contribute to that core added value. If you feel you add value in more than one way, make a unique list under each. Try to stick to 5-6 per value.
You may find defining your career brand at this point also an interesting exercise, as value and values form part of the bigger picture of your career landscape.
4) Practice, practice and practice again
Now take your list and build it into sentences focusing on a Challenge, your Solution and the Outcome with the outcome mirroring the core value word. For example: Income – “In my current role, I was tasked with finding cost savings in our logistics area. I found our transport was travelling whilst only half-full with no load to pick up for the return trip. By improving the planning process before leaving the factory, we increased their load and reduced the number of vans on the road by 20% a week. Saving the company £150,000 a month”. Once again you will be found out if the claims are spurious or on checking the prospective employer may find you did nothing of the sort. Be honest about your achievements and the positive legacies you are leaving behind you.
5) Then practice even more
Just because its good to practice till perfect.
NB: Many of you will see the similarities with the STAR interview answer model of Situation, Task, Action and results. Demonstrating your value is one in the same, so its all about having great self contained little stories of how you are showcasing your value in your job and career.
Naturally, the interview will be driven by the interviewer or interviewers. Although you will have plenty of opportunity to weave in your value statements. Just as long you know what your value to the prospective employer is. This will help to give you the best chance to secure that new exciting role. However, it might also help to prepare a very short career added value summary that you can state at the end of the interview. This will summarise nicely what you will bring to the business after securing the position.
Remember the first 90/100 days of the on-boarding process and how important it is to make the most of the first few weeks in the new job. Being very clear of your career brand and the value you will bring is a vital part of your career planning and management.
Many people go into interviews anxious and with the fear of failure. With this self knowledge of your added career value and where you can be a game changer for the business is vital insight. I am sure you, like most of us, do not want to be the world’s best secret. Your achievements are unlikely to just speak for themselves. You will need to articulate them and the value you bring in your own words that helps you to be both genuine and authentic.
Now all you have to do is press your shirt or best frock and shine your shoes…
Want to know more about your career value or perhaps creating a personal career brand, well drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how.
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