The following article was prepared by Mike Taylor, C.P.M., for distribution to ISM affiliate newsletters.

Sell Yourself

November 2004

The Bad news:

Companies use personnel resources to accomplish goals and meet objectives. It's just business; most employees are resources not assets. Like other commodities we purchase everyday, personnel resources have to be the right quality, meet company needs, add value, provide a return on investment, etc. 

The typical management hiring process might sound something like this:
Do we need a new resource (employee)? Why? Can't our existing resource do that? What skill does the new resource have that we don't already have? How are we going to afford the resource? What is the expected return on investment for the resource? Where do we find the resource?

This kind of decision process is very common. Even after the head office says it's O.K. to look for a new resource, it's not uncommon for the hiring manager to be asked to prepare justifications and analysis to support the decision.

The good news:

Don't despair. Once we realize that companies view people as resources, it opens the door to applying the lessons we have learned about all of the other resources a company uses. No one else understands how the company determines what to buy better than purchasing. Consider for a minute why the company buys any commodity or service: to fill a need, meet a demand, accomplish a task, as a strategic capability or as a practical necessity. Now consider that the resource is a person [preferably you]. Why would the company want that person?

Ask yourself: Am I an employee worth keeping? Am I a better employee than the competition? What makes a great employee?  [hint: It's more than just showing up for work on time.] Am I really an asset to the company or can I be replaced?

Why is this good news for us? Because now we can stop thinking about job hunting as a special effort and start thinking about it just like any other marketing endeavor.  What are the typical marketing activities for a new product? [ Heck if I know, but I've talked with a few salesmen in my time.] O.K., I can guess at a few important steps: evaluate the product, evaluate the market, analyze the competition, differentiate the product, locate the demand and show how the product fills a need better than the competition. 

After having spent years listening to vendors market new products, we've all learned a little marketing. Now the shoe is on the other foot. You are the salesperson. Track down a friend who has one of those valuable(?) marketing degrees and get them to help with a marketing plan. Consider how these typical selling-phrases could be used to market a person.

  • This product is awesome because……
  • This product will do……..
  • This product is better than your existing product because…
  • This product will save you ………
  • This product quality is……..
  • The product availability is ……………

Convince the hiring manager that he is going to buy the right product, the right quality, for the right reasons at a significant ROI.  Don't forget that even after the hiring manager is convinced, evidence and justifications have to be prepared to back up the decision. Help the hiring manager justify hiring you. [Sound like a great salesman you know?] 

So where to start? I think the most valuable activity people overlook, who are looking for a job or trying to keep their existing job, is doing a good self-evaluation.  Fortunately, there are many skills- evaluation resources on the net. Try a few of these:

Figure out what makes you valuable, and at the same time, what could make you more valuable. Be objective and succinct. This would be a great exercise with a few friends or at an affiliate meeting. List all the reasons, skills and attributes that make us a valuable resource to employ. The list will prove valuable in selling yourself and might shed some light on skills to improve. This handout from an old workshop is also a good place to start Professional Development Strategies 

IMPORTANT NOTE: Companies and managers regularly have to decide if they want to keep existing resources. So, even if you are not looking, it's important to keep selling yourself to keep an existing position. 

I hope this give you some ideas. We'll talk more about this subject in the next article.



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