What do you say when an interviewer asks you to “Tell me about yourself?” How you answer this question in interviews and how you communicate your unique abilities in your resume and digital profiles may be the most important factor contributing to your ability to land the job you really want. Too many job seekers count on their ability to “wing” this question and miss an opportunity to create a strong impression during job interviews and networking situations. Instead of creating a professional profile with a broad stroke, create a compelling, concise statement that conveys your values, unique abilities, and professional brand – a Professional Value Proposition (PVP).
Once created, use your PVP to position yourself across social channels, focus your resume, enhance your digital profiles, and answer standard interview questions about who you are. Soon, your PVP will not only be something you say, it will become part of who you are and how peers and others in your industry perceive you – it will become your brand.
Creating a Professional Value Proposition
A Professional Value Proposition (PVP) is a compelling, concise statement that clearly communicates your unique abilities and the value you bring through both your hard and soft skills. A well-crafted PVP will serve as your brand statement, and set the tone for how you want others to see you. Instead of letting others decide who you are, establish the reputation you want to be known for up front and communicate it clearly.
To create a PVP, begin by thinking about what makes you valuable. Ask yourself questions like:
- What is my professional and general background overview?
- What do I do that creates value and makes an impact?
- What are my strengths- those things that help me stand out against my competition?
- What evidence do I have that demonstrates those strengths?
- What am I excited about doing in my next role?
Once you’ve defined your strengths and values, create a concise, paragraph-long statement that is fluid and easy to understand. Think of your PVP as your personal elevator pitch and practice delivering it to friends and family. Be sure to infuse energy and enthusiasm into your delivery, even during practice. After all, your PVP conveys the values that make you unique!
Landing your dream job doesn’t stop with creating a personal value proposition. Your PVP is the foundation upon which you will begin to build your professional reputation. Here are some ways to use your PVP to help land your dream job:
Perfect your resume and cover letter
Beyond your PVP statement, your resume and cover letter should always communicate your personal brand. A resume is so much more than a list of job experiences and abilities. It should communicate your vision for your life and future, your purpose, passions, interests, values, and strengths. When you have already defined your authentic brand, it makes it easier to communicate it across a resume.
Generally speaking, if you are applying to a job, you are largely dependent on your resume and cover letter to break through the stack of other resumes and cover letters to vie for the hiring manager’s attention. If you forgo the opportunity to communicate your uniqueness and what makes you valuable, you risk never moving to the interview phase.
Manage your online reputation
Whatever you put on the internet should be a perfect reflection of your PVP. Your digital profile may be the most important self-marketing asset you have, and your online reputation can be the deciding factor whether or not you land your desired job.
Managing your online reputation begins with knowing what’s already out there on the internet. Start by Google-searching yourself. Do different versions of your name pop up? Whatever version of your name is the best representation of your professional self should be used consistently across job search documents and online profiles.
Once you completed an initial search, continue to keep a pulse on your own brand by checking your personal search results periodically - regardless of your job search status. With a simple Google search, or by setting up Google Alerts, you can stay on top of what people are saying about you.
There are a few easy steps you can take to quickly boost your positive online reputation.:
- Create profiles using your PVP-branded content and name on various online platforms, from Google to LinkedIn to YouTube, and every social channel in between.
- Try answering Quora questions based on your expertise, or submitting a contributed article to an industry-related website that includes a biography featuring part of your PVP and personal brand.
- Create your own professional portfolio or website, or get involved with online communities and forums where you can comment and interact with others in your field.
The bigger your social footprint, the greater your self-marketing. When employers are reading your resume, or digital profile, and decide to do a Google search for further information about you, you’ll want them to find you and see that you are actively engaged and passionate about the work you do.
Improve your professional image
If you’re interviewing, networking, or simply interacting with your colleagues, you will be remembered for your professionalism, expertise, and enthusiasm. When your professional image is in line with your PVP, you begin to build credibility and firmly establish your professional brand. Your reputation will take on a life of its own and can help foster confidence and credibility with your prospective and current employers.
When we talk about a professional image, most people think about things like posture and dress. And while it’s important to be mindful of your posture, as slumping can make you look tired and less than enthusiastic; and, of course, in an interview you’ll want to dress professionally – your professional image is so much more.
Once you’ve landed that first job, find ways to create a professional image that will inspire the people who work with and those you network with to endorse you online and talk about you positively to others in the workplace.
Here are a few things that can help you build a positive professional image:
- Adopt a good work ethic. Come to work at a reasonable time and be productive once you’re there. If you work from home, communicate your progress on projects.
- Be responsive. Communicate with your team and people outside your team quickly and professionally.
- Be reliable. Be the person people turned to with questions. Become the person that other team members rely on to meet deadlines and solve problems.
- Be a thought leader. Show your expertise. Share your ideas and create new solutions.
While likeability isn’t always more important than competence, it can help you connect with the person you're interviewing with. Most employers hire those they like the most—and those candidates don’t necessarily have the best resume. During an interview, you’ll need to find that delicate balance between self-promotion and likeability. It’s not a bad idea to continue to work on likeability in the workplace and in networking situations – regardless of your job seeker status.
Whether you are interviewing or networking, or working to improve likability at your current workplace, here are some quick steps you can try:
- Stay positive, even when things don’t go your way.
- Show concern and support for others so they know you care about their success too.
- Tailor your body language and reaction to other people so they feel more comfortable and connected with you.
- Seek out shared interests or cultural similarities to develop instant rapport.
- Insert good humor and compliments into your conversation, when appropriate.
- Be a good listener. People who ask questions show they care about more than just themselves.
Once you define your Professional Value Proposition and communicate it consistently across online, social and in-person channels, you will begin to create a personal brand and a positive professional image. Even with a clearly stated PVP, well-written resume, creative digital profile and positive online image, landing your dream job will likely not happen overnight. However, every great journey begins with small steps. Begin your search for your dream job by taking a few small steps to create and communicate those things that make you unique.