How to Sell Yourself to Potential Employers

by Lauren Treadwell on 17 February 2014 0 comments

You customize your resume and cover letter to fit each application and provide thorough explanations of how your unique set of qualifications make you the ideal candidate for the job. But could you be doing more to sell yourself to potential employers? Even if you're an experienced job-seeker, you can benefit from learning a few new ways to convince a company that you're the one they're looking for. (See also: Long-Distance Job Hunting Tips)

1. Use the Right Keywords

Having the right language in your job hunting materials ensures that both human and automated resume reviewers know you have what they're looking for.

To come up with your keywords, first, think about the phrases employers would use to find a candidate for the position. Next, review the job posting to determine the skills and knowledge the employer is looking for. Finally, think about attributes you possess that set you apart from other candidates. These can be certifications, specialized education, or uncommon or highly-desirable skills. Sprinkle these terms throughout your resume and cover letter and be sure to emphasize the most relevant experience and education. (See also: Words You Should Delete From Your Resume)

Using keywords is especially important on LinkedIn and other networking sites to draw employers to your profile and let them know exactly what you have to offer. In addition to having including them in the Skills, Interest and Experience sections, the headline that appears in search results and on the top of your page can benefit from keywords as well. "Banking customer service representative" provides a basic concept of yourself, but "Financial customer care professional with proven sales experience" provides recruiters with a descriptive yet concise depiction of your expertise.

2. Ask the Right Questions

Instead of requesting information about salary and vacation time, or worse, having no questions at all, make employers take notice by proposing topics that show you're serious about the job. In addition to questions that show your interest in the everyday goings on of a job, ask about the long- and short-term goals and plans for the position, department, and company. Ask questions about any recent industry news and how it will affect the business. You should also inquire about any issues with the position that the company wants to solve. Finally, ask the interviewer if he or she has any reservations or questions about your suitability for the job. This last one is important, because you may not have another chance to offer an explanation and alleviate their misgivings. (See also: 13 Ways to Make a Good Impression at Your Job Interview)

3. Explain How You've Contributed

When considering a candidate, one of the most important questions employers have is, "How is this person going to contribute to the bottom line?"

To make yourself really stand out, you have to explain how you can use your position to increase profits and decrease costs. Think of realistic scenarios in which you can apply your expertise to benefit the employer on a day-to-day basis. Back those ideas up with stories of how your skills and knowledge have been an advantage to organizations in the past. Think of specific examples of your contributions, such as the time you landed the largest account of the year because your advanced technical knowledge allowed you to explain a product's complicated specs to the customer in laymen's terms. Also think of ways you saved previous employers from serious problems, like when your keen attention to detail helped you locate a small accounting error before it had a chance to turn into a big issue.

4. Be Passionate

Companies love nothing more than an employee who genuinely enjoys their job. Showing passion for the work signals to employers that you'll give your full effort and are likely interested in the job for the long haul, both of which are important considerations. Even if it's the most mundane job imaginable, find aspects of it that you like and expand on those points. If a customer service rep, for example, is enthusiastic and sincere about how much they enjoy helping people solve problems, the employer is much more likely to remember that candidate. You could even use examples from your personal life to show that you have innate affinity for the duties of the position.

5. Show Off Your Industry Knowledge

Read up on your industry's activities by visiting trade-related websites, perusing professional publications, and scouring the news. Look for information about openings, closings, mergers, new laws or regulations, management changes, and social matters that could affect the company and its competitors. To incorporate this information into your cover letter, simply mention your awareness of these items and request an interview to discuss how you can help the company with them. Once you're face to face, flesh out your knowledge of the issues and provide more in-depth explanations of your ideas. Tell the interviewer how you can help the company take advantage of the new situation or avoid adverse effects. As always, be specific. (See also: Learn These Things About a Company Before the Interview)

6. Dress to Impress

You already know that the outfit you wear to a job interview is important. But you may not be aware that even minor things about your appearance can make a big difference in an employer's opinion of you. A recent study found that after seeing an image for only three seconds, reviewers rated a man more successful, flexible, and confident when he was pictured wearing a tailored suit as opposed to when he was photographed in an identical off-the-rack outfit. These quick assessments also applied to images of women, who were thought of as more confident, responsible, authoritative, and intelligent when they wore conservative clothing, such as longer skirts and blouses with higher necklines. (See also: 5 Ways to Snag Affordable Business Clothes)

The colors you choose can also be an important factor. Studies have revealed that navy blue is the best interview outfit color because it conveys a sense of confidence and trustworthiness. Earthy colors such as brown and tan project dependability, while red shows interviewers that you are energetic and influential. By wearing your most well-made yet conservative outfit and choosing colors to suit the energy the position requires, you can use snap judgments to subconsciously boost an interviewer's impression of you.

What are some tips and tricks you use to land a job?

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