If you have ever watched an episode of The Apprentice then you’ll know that however confident you may appear to be, the reality is that once you are faced with the boss of a company, all your insecurities start to show up. We may be full of bravado to our mates and family members but when it comes to ‘selling’ ourselves to prospective employers, it is a far more daunting task. Perhaps it is the ‘British’ in us in that, we are not brought up to ‘blow our own trumpets’ and be proud of what we have achieved. It makes us look arrogant. But this is exactly what we should be doing when it comes to interviewing. The employer is looking for your best qualities and your achievements, so they can make a decision whether or not to take you on. In fact, a recent report from the executive agency InterExec has revealed that even senior executives aren’t selling their accomplishments enough on their CVs. The study surveyed 100 of the UK’s leading senior executives and found that 63% had CVs that were more duties-driven than accomplishments-driven. In other words, they highlighted the tasks they do rather than their achievements and the skills used in achieving what they did. The employer wants to see who you are and not necessarily what you do.
So with this in mind, we have compiled some tips on how you can get better at selling yourself:
The CV: Make it Skills Based
All Cvs should be tailored to the job you are interviewing for, so make it easy to see on your CV the exact skills and accomplishments you have that are relevant to the job or promotion you’re going for. You could even create a skills-based CV, where your skills are near the top and focus on them, rather than your work experience and duties. You must always include a personal profile on the CV.
Your personal profile goes just below your contact information on your CV. Here you can talk about who you are, what you enjoy and where your strengths lie. Think of it as a couple of sentences to describe yourself in a nutshell to a prospective employer who knows nothing about you.
What Questions Employers Will Ask
The most likely question an employer will ask is ‘Tell me a little about yourself’, so have an answer ready for them. And make it interesting and include such things as if you learnt a second language, if you went back packing alone on a trip, something about your core values whether it be recycling or the environment, stay away from politics though. You can talk about any cultural things you enjoy such as the arts or music or going to the theatre. Try to give a rounded synopsis of you as a person. Give the employer something that is of interest to them. Another question employers will usually ask is ‘Why do you want this job?’ This is your chance to have fully researched the company before you attend the interview, so you can give a brief background of what you consider the company to be about, then explain what drew you to them. Highlight any experience you have that pertains to them, if they have done something in the past that you have admired, for example, Asda have put in motion recycling of all cardboard waste and will be attempting to make all their stores run on green energy. You could say that you agree with this strategy.
Don’t Talk About Your Weaknesses.
It is human nature to be self-deprecating and to put ourselves down, especially if we have been talking about how good we are at certain tasks so be aware of this. If you start focusing on your negative qualities it sends out a message to the employer that you do not value yourself so neither should they. Get in the habit of talking about yourself positively without having to add that self-critical footnote. If a job interviewer happens to ask you what your weaknesses are, they’re not asking you to put yourself down; they’re looking for you to give an example of how you’re working on an area for improvement.
Highlight Your Qualities
I remember reading a dating profile once where the gentleman said he was a very funny man, the profile continued and was extremely boring. I came to the conclusion that he was not funny at all. It would have read better if he had demonstrated his humour by making the profile humorous. So, in interviews, don’t just say what your qualities are but demonstrate them by giving examples. For example, your loyalty to a firm may have meant you worked over a weekend to reach a tight deadline. But think up some examples before you head into the interview.
It pays dividends to look confident and this goes for what you are wearing and your approach to the whole interview. Believe in yourself and others undoubtedly will come to believe in you too. Make sure you look people in the eye when you are talking and do not say things like ‘um’ or ‘ah’. Talk confidently and with purpose and remember that the sole reason of the interview is for the employer to find out as much about you as they can; it’s not a way to set you up for a fall. Good Luck!