So there you are, coasting along at your current job. You enjoy your work, and you especially like your company.
The thing is, you’re feeling a little restless lately. Perhaps you know your job so well that you could do it in your sleep. Or maybe you don’t see much opportunity for growth or movement in your department. That little voice in your head is saying it’s ready for new challenges, but the thought of leaving your awesome company is really daunting. There’s got to be a better way, right?
Before you start polishing up your resume, it’s worth thinking about how you can create your own opportunity at your current company. But how do you do this? Where do you start? How do you even get the right people to listen to you? Read on for five easy steps for creating a new job at your current company.
1. Define a Current Business Problem and Match Your Skills to It
For your boss and company to consider shifting your role, they’ll want to know what’s in it for them. So, look around. What are some of the biggest challenges and problems that need to be solved at your company? Perhaps your department lacks a comprehensive training program, or maybe no one has developed a much-needed social media strategy. Maybe the marketing department is down a person who has never been replaced. Try matching up these opportunities to your own expertise, and think about what you can offer.
2. Create a Detailed Plan
Now that you’ve identified a new role or opportunity you could fill, you’ll want to create a plan. First, create a thorough job description, along with a set of goals for this position within the first year. (To speak your boss’ language, create it using the same format that your company uses already.) Spelling out exactly how this role will look will give management a better idea of what you can accomplish.
Then, put some thought into what will happen to your current role—will you keep some of your tasks and transition some of them to others, or will your boss need to hire a replacement? Remember, if that’s the case, you’ll need to make an especially compelling argument as to why your new role is needed or how it can impact the business. On that note:
3. Pitch the Idea to Your Supervisor
By this point, you might be so excited about your idea that you want to run straight to your boss’ boss (or higher). However, the best place to start is usually your immediate supervisor. He or she will hopefully be a great initial sounding board. Start by scheduling a meeting during a quiet time when your supervisor will be less distracted. Next, present a simple outline of your idea, starting with the business problem you will solve. Be sure to mention your strong interest in developing your skills and owning your career. After all, you’ve already mastered your current job, and you’re ready for new challenges now. It also wouldn’t hurt to mention how much you enjoy working for your current company and how you’d like to stay there long-term.
Also, don’t be afraid to ask your supervisor to punch holes in this idea; you’ll want to be prepared to answer challenging questions if your idea gets to the next level. If your supervisor agrees that your idea could work, then ask about the next step—i.e., the right people to talk to in order to make the job a reality.
On the other hand, if your manager shows resistance, ask him or her to think about it some more and then get back to you with specific feedback. Maybe your idea could still work with a little tweaking. Or perhaps your supervisor is afraid of backfilling your role, and you need to work on a better transition plan. If the idea is flat-out rejected, don’t be afraid to talk to a mentor or trusted colleague who has a fresh perspective—he or she may have a different idea for approaching matters (or other thoughts on how you could shift your role).
4. Revise Your Idea and Present it to the Decision Makers
Once your boss has green-lighted the idea and pointed you to the right folks to talk to next, take another look at your plan. You’ll want to tailor your approach based on the people you are meeting with. If you’re meeting with a high-level director, you might want to pare down the details and focus on results. If you’re meeting with human resources, you’ll want to include some specific experiences that showcase your untapped talent.
No matter what, again you’ll want to focus on how this new role will be a great thing for the company—and why you’re exactly the right person to take it on.
5. Be Patient
Even if everyone from the custodial staff to the CEO thinks your idea is wonderful, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be starting your new job within two weeks. Some ideas need to be vetted with the right people before they can take flight, whereas others may simply need the right funding to become a reality. And unfortunately, some ideas may depend on the right timing. Your organization may need to wrap up current strategic projects before the right resources can be redirected to your idea.
But remember: If your idea is worth doing and you’d really enjoy it, try to hang in there until the timing is right—it just might pay off in the end. In the meantime, use that waiting period to brush up on those skills you’ll use in your new job. You never know when you’ll be tapped to make that jump.
Have you ever created your own opportunity at your current company? What did you do? Share your experiences with us at The Muse!
In a crummy economy where jobs are scarce, Scott Gerber, author of Never Get A Real Job, believes that the only way to secure your employment and financial future is to start a company.
"The resume-driven society says, 'if we work hard and go to school, we'll get a job and be ok.' That traditional thinking no longer applies," says Gerber. "Now, more than ever, you need to be entrepreneurial to be successful; you need to create a job to keep a job."
"When you work for someone else you're putting all your eggs into one basket that you don't own or hold. If you want to secure your financial future regardless of the bad economy, you need to be in control of your own life," he insists.
Ready to take a stab at entrepreneurship?
First, you’ve got to curb your ego
"You can't build a successful business if you don't have your priorities straight and ego in check," says Gerber.
While entrepreneurs should be confident, if you go overboard you'll get in your own way.
Keep it simple, stupid
"If your idea is not simple, you're stupid," says Gerber. "Build a business that is nuts and bolts practical and not complex."
"Create a simplified product or service that sells X product to Y customer for Z profit," he says.
Always be prepared for the worst-case scenario (because it will happen)
"Every decision should be thought through; plan for the worst so you're not caught off guard if it happens," says Gerber.
"Come up with three alternatives for every decision so you've taken all outcomes into consideration," he suggests.
"Too many people think they need to reinvent the wheel, but if they do, the wheel will run them over," says Gerber. "Instead, focus on bettering an idea that already exists."
Use creativity to market an unoriginal idea. "Think of the guys who started College Hunks Hauling Junk," says Gerber. "They put a creative spin on a pre-existing idea. At its core, it's just a junk removal business."
Make sure your business isn’t a bottomless pit
"Start a business that is efficient with few monetary demands in the beginning," says Gerber.
For entrepreneurs will minimal resources, Gerber says to start a business around the little cash available. "Your ideas, then, need to be focused on making money. When I started out, I didn't have much at all. I just focused on business ideas that could turn a profit quicker and didn't have many startup costs."
Become a brilliant cheapskate
"If you want to start a business, you need to change the way you spend money," says Gerber.
"Know the difference between a frivolous expense and a necessity that can be bartered, bargained for, or partnered on."
Don’t partner with just anyone
Assess if a partnership makes sense before you jump into it.
"Your friends might seem like the best partners, but they might end up slacking off and doing nothing. Or someone who seems great might take you through the ringer later on," says Gerber. "Make sure you evaluate what a partner can bring to the table and make sure it's worth it."
Toss the old school business plan
Gerber is a fan of one paragraph startup plans. Anything longer is not necessary. "Stop thinking you have to write a business plan for investors or dense dissertations. You don't need a traditional plan to be a small business owner," Gerber says.
"Business planning isn't a revenue-generating opportunity. Instead, get started on your business so you can make money as soon as possible."
Gerber recommends writing one paragraph in question and answer format in lieu of a 95-page plan that takes six months to put together. "Don't use business plan software, don't listen to experts — they're nonsense. All you need to do is organize your thoughts in a way that's good for your business."
Phones won’t ring themselves
By this, Gerber means to constantly be marketing your company in new, creative ways.
"Put yourself out into the world. Always be selling yourself without being a used car salesman," he says. "Join groups, network regularly, and find different ways to get your business in front of people."
Be afraid to have never failed. In other words, the idea of not trying should scare you.
"Be afraid to wake up 10, 20, 30 years from now and be pointing your finger at the TV saying, that was my idea!" says Gerber. "What you should never be afraid of is to never get a real job."
Finally, stop listening to your parents and thinking you need to validate your college degree
Most people have dreamt of being their own boss, setting their own hours, and having every minute of work be directly beneficial. According to Gerber, whether you're just graduating college or are already in the workforce, this dream is possible.
"College kids should be starting businesses. They are at the point in their lives where they can scale their livelihoods down, and they have extra time to put in hard work," says Gerber.
"Generation Y: Stop listening to your parents and thinking you need to validate your college degree with a 'real' job," he cautions. "Instead, build your own financial future; use your time wisely now so it will pay dividends when you're older."
For people who already have traditional jobs
For people who already have traditional jobs, it's not too late to start a personal endeavor. "Just take a look around and see that [by working for someone else] you're putting all eggs into one basket that you don't own or hold," says Gerber.
"If you want to secure your financial future regardless of the bad economy, you need to be in control of your own life. That doesn't mean that entrepreneurship is easy, but it allows you to make your own destiny. Every hour of work can be for you — that's a major change from a 9-5 job."
Over the course of your career, you will likely encounter certain people, organizations, or causes you want to work for. But what if there aren’t any available job opportunities?
You may think there’s nothing to be done—but there is. Why not pitch yourself for a job that doesn’t exist yet? Here are our best tips for creating and pitching for that nonexistent dream job.
What are you looking for?
Whether you’re scanning the job listings on Idealist.org or looking for more responsibility at work, clarity is your best friend. It’s not enough to know you want a job or that you want a promotion; you need to know what you are looking for. If you know at least some important details—such as your target job title, desired salary, or ideal organization size—that can help you focus and be more discerning about available opportunities, as well as shape what your dream opportunity looks like.
Identify opportunities as a job seeker
Once you know what is important to you, you can identify opportunities that are relevant for you. The best-case scenario is that you find a job description that is an exact or close enough match to what you’re after.
Then there are those other times when you find the right organization, but there are no relevant, open positions. So what can you do?
- Do a deep dive. Research that organization’s projects and pay attention to the ones that pique your interest. Why do these appeal to you?
- Know—and list—your strengths. As a job seeker, you probably already have a good grasp of what your strengths are, but now you’ll need to consider them more specifically. Write down what all your professional strengths are, then circle the ones you actually want to enhance. For instance, your writing and networking abilities could both be strengths, but you may be more interested in networking than writing.
- Identify transferable skills. Are there areas of overlap between your organization research and your strengths? For example, if you are most drawn to donor relationship projects and one of your strengths is networking, your strength could help serve similar project work.
- Make connections. Now, write down what you specifically bring to the table. It’s not enough to jot down “networking.” You want to write down, “I know how to find new prospective donors for this cause and, because of my past outreach experience, can organize and lead a quarterly call to onboard new donors.”
- Design a new job description. Using your research and brainstorming, create a new job description. Include what this job entails, such as qualifications and responsibilities.
Identify opportunities as a current employee
If you are currently an employee who is seeking professional growth, but there are no formal opportunities available, you, too, can do something about it:
- Focus. Because you are already working with an organization, you have had exposure to different aspects of the work being done. Now is the time to ask yourself: What do I want to do more of? Your answer to this question will help you focus on what your potential areas of opportunity could be.
- List your demonstrated strengths. The keyword here is “demonstrated.” How have your strengths supported results at work? Let’s say that social media marketing is one of your strengths, you could have demonstrated this by spearheading a new, engaging campaign for your organization’s annual fundraiser.
- Time to compare. Where is there overlap between what you want to do more of and your demonstrated strengths? Be specific in how you answer this question—it will be the foundation of the new opportunity you’re designing for yourself.
- Design your new job description.
Make your case
Now that you have created your new opportunity, it’s time to pitch yourself for that job that doesn’t exist yet. If you’re a job seeker, you should:
- Determine who to contact. Based on what you wrote when you made connections, you will know if there is a specific department you need to appeal to. Study the organization’s website or LinkedIn to figure out who you should email.
- Craft your cover letter. Because you’re pitching yourself for a role that doesn’t exist yet, your cover letter will need to succinctly and unambiguously define what that role is, demonstrate your familiarity with the organization’s work, and how your strengths can support the work.
- Update your resume. Make sure your resume highlights your strengths, especially those strengths you want to continue to focus on, nurture, and that are relevant for the job you’re pitching yourself for.
- Send in your materials and do the requisite follow-up.
And you’re already working within the organization, there are a few things you can try:
. Whether you schedule an in-person meeting or write an email, don’t be afraid to respectfully ask for what you are looking for. This could be as simple as: “Do you need additional help with the new research project?”
- Highlight your demonstrated strengths. Remind your manager of your value. For example, you could follow up your question with, “I have experience doing research interviews since I’ve been a contributor to Idealist Careers for two years and was a researcher for five years before that.”
- Make their life easier. Let your manager know what you’re willing to do to help them figure out if your help is a value-add. That may mean sharing a copy of a past interview you conducted or suggesting you submit a test interview for evaluation.
Specific, concrete, and strategic
There’s no guarantee that your pitch will succeed. This is especially true when you are pitching yourself for a nonexistent job at a new organization. But that doesn’t mean that your efforts are ever for naught: learning to pitch yourself in this way will help you think more concretely and strategically about what you bring to the table, which can only help you with future applications and interviews.
Have you ever pitched yourself for a job that doesn’t exist? Tell us about it on Facebook.
While you’ll need a customized resume for each position you seek, it’s also important to maintain a master version that provides a comprehensive overview of your professional career. This document should include information about all previous jobs and your accomplishments and skills. Your master resume doesn’t need to be succinct or tightly focused; instead, the goal is to compile a list you can pull from when creating targeted resumes for specific jobs.
Compile a Basic List
Begin by creating a rough draft of your master resume, listing all of your skills, accomplishments, credentials and other qualifications. You probably won’t use all of this information for every resume, so don’t worry at this point about relevance, recency or chronology. Instead, focus on creating a comprehensive picture of your career path. For example, you might start with your college career, noting university honors you earned, part-time jobs you held and participation in campus activities and associations.
You should now have a bare bones outline of what you’ve achieved and learned throughout your career. However, job titles alone won’t distinguish you from the competition. Review every item you listed and add as much detail as you can. Beside each previous job, for example, list all of your duties and everything you accomplished, such as boosting sales by 15 percent. Again, aim to provide as much detail as possible, without worrying how relevant it is. When you create a targeted resume for a specific position, you can include only information that matches the job description, omitting anything that doesn’t strengthen your position as a candidate.
Create Clear Sections
In the beginning, you can list information as you think of it, without worrying about organization or timeline. After you have added everything you want to include, however, you’ll need to group this information into logical, clearly defined categories. When you want to create a customized resume, you can pull out the sections and information you want from your master resume. If you include a skills section or qualifications summary at the beginning of your resume, for example, separate this information into categories such as “communication skills” and “management experience.”
Make It Flexible
Your master resume should be easy to tailor for specific job openings. You might want to omit some areas, such as your objective statement or headline. Instead, create a new statement for each target resume. You can also create tables for some sections, such as your skills or qualifications summary, which is likely the area that will require the most customization. You can delete and add information for each new resume, and rearrange details in order of relevance and importance for the position you’re seeking.
‘A presentation about myself’ – I think this is one of the most dreaded speech topics. Talking about yourself – it’s difficult to know what your audience want to know, and how much you should tell them.
Its all about you
Unfortunately this also happens to be one of the most common speeches you will be asked to give. Whether you are applying for a new job, or starting a new course/class, quite often the first meeting will involve getting to know each other and this will often mean saying a little bit about yourself. Luckily this often has a short time scale, perhaps five or ten minutes so it isn’t as daunting as it sounds.
Firstly when planning your speech, break it down into three sections – a beginning, a middle and a conclusion. This will not only give your speech some structure but will also help with the writing of it.
To start with
The most important thing to remember with the beginning is that it doesn’t really contain any real information. Greet your audience with a warm welcome, tell them who you are and what you are going to talk about, and tell them why you are going to talk about it. Take a look at Making a Presentation:Part One.
The middle section
This is where you tell them about you, tell them about your hobbies, your hopes, your dreams, your goals. Don’t brag about what you have achieved but be informative about it. If it is relevant then you should definitely include achievements.
If you are at a job interview discuss the reasons for wanting the job, touch on some past experience and tell them why you think you are suitable. Back this up with an anecdote from your past if it is related. Tell them what you pride yourself on. This might be time-keeping, efficiency, people skills, or all of these. Be prepared for questions on this because they may ask for examples of when you have shown these skills.
If you are at school, or starting a new college course then tell them why you chose to go for the course, what interests you about that particular job or career, what experience you have had previously, and where you hope it will take you.
For some pointers, have a look at this article on Making a Presentation: Part Two
Wrapping it up
The most important point to remember here is never to add any extra information at this point, this is where you should ask the audience if they have any questions. Do a little preparation for this beforehand so that you are prepared for questions about something that you have not covered. Have a look at this article about preparing for your presentation. Finally, you should thank them for their time and attention. And that’s it, finished.
"How can you position yourself so that opportunities come to you?"
The pandemic has caused many workers to rethink what's important to them, including their jobs. The so-called quit rate recently hit a record high as employees feel more confident they can find better work.
Even if you're happy in your current role, it's smart to keep an eye out for new opportunities. "When you find yourself thinking, 'OK, I maxed out my opportunity here,' it's time for a change of scenery," says Gorick Ng, a Harvard career advisor who specializes in helping first-generation, low-income college students start and build their careers. He's also the author of "The Unspoken Rules."
Some smart prep work now can ensure your next career move will be easy. "In an ideal world, your next job is one you don't need to apply for because it comes up in a conversation or comes to you," says Ng. Here's how you can make that happen.
Build up 'your social capital'
Maybe you don't want to waste your time searching for jobs when you don't need to. But you don't want to be caught off-guard by sudden job loss, either. "I think a lot about, 'How can you position yourself so that opportunities come to you?' versus you being out of a job and saying, 'Oh, yikes, what next,'" says Ng.
You can benefit from expanding your network by joining meetups and professional associations, as well as going to conferences and doing volunteer work. "This is all building up your social capital," says Ng: learning about other people while sharing your own interests.
Video by Mariam Abdallah
"Keep that LinkedIn profile updated, add bullet points as you progress in your career," he says. "If you are in an industry where a personal portfolio makes sense, have that website and continually update it."
As you build relationships, other people will often look for opportunities for you. "Over time, people are saying to you, 'I remember a conversation about you being interested in moving to Europe. Strangely enough, I have this high school friend in Europe who is looking for someone with your background. Would you be interested in having a conversation with this person?'" says Ng.
Learn 'how to position yourself' for the job you want
Jobs boil down to three categories, says Ng: what's available today, what might be available tomorrow, and what is not available but could be in the future. "If you want to start with what's available, that's an option, but you'd end up in a better position for yourself if you start with, 'What do I want,'" he says.
Now's the time to figure that out, by doing your research, talking to people, and sending cold emails, says Ng. "Ask friends who are in the profession you'd like to enter, and/or the organizations you are interested in joining, for a brief call to learn about their work and get their advice on how to navigate the process," he says.
You can identify someone you'd like to meet and ask a mutual contact to introduce you. You can even cold email someone and introduce yourself. That can put you in a better place when you want to make your move.
"You'll walk away with a better idea of how to position yourself for when you do start the job hunt," says Ng. Better yet, you might be able to ask for a referral, and could be "top of mind if they ever create a position that'd fit with your skills and interests."
Monitor industry trends to 'make the trail' for your career
Stay aware of what's happening in your industry and in the world, says Ng. Pay attention to "what's this company doing these days, where's this industry headed, which parts of the universe are growing and which are shrinking."
The advantage here is that you're more aware of potential growth opportunities, and you could get ahead of a potential layoff if your industry or company isn't faring well.
Getting ahead in your career is different from getting ahead in school, since school is like a conveyor belt where you can expect to move forward based on your courses and grades, says Ng. Professional life requires more strategizing.
"If school is like a conveyor belt, your career is like a wilderness expedition where you are scaling this mountain," he says. "There's nothing that comes to you. You need to make the trail be in tune with the weather forecast and what's in your bag."
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Waiting for the perfect position to pop up in your LinkedIn feed? Can’t find job descriptions that nail down your skills and goals in your daily search results? If you’ve been searching for your dream job and haven’t found it, it’s possible that it doesn’t exist—at least not yet.
In fact, if you really want a job you love, it’s time to stop limiting your search to posted positions. I recently carved out my own place in the workplace, and you can, too, by doing some strategic research, networking, and pitching your skills. Here’s your game plan.
1. Build a Short List of Dream Employers
Having a dream job usually means working for a business you believe in—one with a mission that inspires you, opportunities that will help you grow, and co-workers you’ll actually like to work with every day.
So, start there. Do some research, and put together a list of your dream companies—whether or not they have openings. I recommend putting 10-20 potential employers in a spreadsheet, with columns to detail potential departments you could work in, contacts you may have (or could get there), and any other potential ins.
Then, for each company, do some digging to determine which may realistically have an open place for you. With a bit of research on social media, sites like Glassdoor, and the company’s blog and press releases, you can determine a lot: Which departments are emerging or underdeveloped? Which companies recently received funding and might be ready to bring on people in all areas? Where are there potential opportunities for your skill set that the company hasn’t thought of yet? For example, if you’re a digital strategist and you notice that the fashion startup you’ve been following doesn’t have an active presence on social networks or blogs yet, there could be a perfect spot just waiting for you.
Again, it’s important not to limit yourself to what’s listed on a company’s jobs page. Smaller departments or companies, in particular, might not be ready to post a position—but could be willing to hire in that area if the right person (a.k.a., you) came along. Once you’ve determined where you might fit in, which companies might be on the brink of hiring, and where there are any advantageous gaps in personnel, note them in your spreadsheet.
2. Enlist Your Network
Perhaps the greatest power you have in landing an unlisted job is your network—people who might know what’s happening on the inside of your dream companies, people who can give you tips on getting noticed, and (in the best case scenario) people who can vouch for your skills and abilities and say to your would-be-boss, “You need to hire this person now.”
So, look on LinkedIn and see if any of your connections work where you’d like to or can facilitate introductions to people who do. (Here’s how to find a connection, and fast.) A short message letting your contacts know what you’re looking for works perfectly:
I hope all is well! How are things at [insert employer]? I was hoping you could do me a favor—I’m really interested in connecting with [insert name] and learning more about the company’s marketing department. I’d love to reach out and see if my skills in [describe your area] could be a fit there. If you’re comfortable, would you be willing to make an introduction?
If you don’t have any connections in common, that’s OK—you can still reach out to hiring managers directly. Try these tips to hunt down someone’s email address, or sign up for a LinkedIn premium account to send InMail directly.
Once you have that info, it’s time to:
3. Prepare a Flawless Pitch
When you’re trying to create your own role at a company, you need to sell yourself the way you would any other product or service your potential employer doesn’t yet have (and maybe doesn’t yet know he or she needs). In other words, you need to show the decision makers that, if they invest in paying your salary, you’d have a measurable impact on sales, lead acquisition, efficiency, or another key component of the business.
So, grab your resume, consider your all-time top achievements, and prepare a pitch that shows your target employers exactly how your experience can help them. In addition, make sure you show that you know the company’s background and why you want to have a place there. Your passion should come across loud and clear.
Here’s an example, using my current employer:
I’m really impressed by how accessible and intuitive Salucro makes patient payments – I’ve done some research, and your online bill pay is really clean and simple.
I would love to see if there’s room for me at the company to support your digital strategy for increased sales and brand recognition. I have seven years of experience in online marketing and successfully transitioned most of my current employer’s advertising to digital publications, saving $80,000 a year and allowing us to track ROI for each placement. These new advertisements, combined with an online campaign I’ve directed, have allowed us to increase sales by 10% over a quarter for our target product.
These are the types of successes I’d like to bring to Salucro. Can we meet to discuss your goals and see how my skills can complement your existing team?
I’ve pulled some of the details I used in my actual cover letter, which worked. The company had a marketing manager position listed, but after after showing my experience and how the company could reap the benefits, I was hired for my (unlisted) dream job—director of marketing.
Finally, if and when you have the opportunity to interview, make sure you go in knowing all you can about the business, the industry, and competitors—showing that, if hired, you’d be ready to hit the ground running. And, again, be ready to push the importance of the type of position you are trying to carve out at the company. Share why it’s important in their industry and how it can help increase efficiency, save company dollars, or drive revenue. Remember—you’re not just selling yourself as the right person for the job, you’re selling your potential manager on the job itself.
But, if you can do that effectively? Well, you just might land your dream job.
Among the various instructions I was given as a child — “Wash your hands after you come home from school!” and “Please refrain from biting your sister!” — “Don’t brag!” was one that always stuck with me. Maybe because I always resented when my elementary-school nemesis Amanda would boast about the desserts in her lunchbox (my parents always packed me a fruit cup), or maybe because I gloated about being appointed Recess Cleanup Captain the first day of second grade and subsequently found out it was the worst job in all of homeroom; either way, it was definitely a mantra I got behind.
As I grew older, though, I learned there was a very important exception to the common no-bragging rule: job interviews. How fascinating, I thought to myself after my first-ever formal interview for a summer internship. Not only is it permissible to hype your own accomplishments in the context of a professional pursuit, it’s encouraged!
That doesn’t mean it’s easy, though. In fact, it can be a real challenge to strike the right balance between strategic boasting and measured humility when you’re pitching yourself for a job. I’ve definitely improved since my first time at the interview rodeo, but I still struggle with the nuances of professional bragging, even in informal networking scenarios. For some expert advice, I reached out to Career Contessa Founder & CEO Lauren McGoodwin. Read her six career-oriented pitching tips below.
1. Simplify Your Resume
“A lot of people think that a resume is your whole life story on a piece of paper,” said McGoodwin. “That couldn’t be further from the truth. Your resume needs to be a snapshot of the most relevant and specific information that you’ve done that’s laid out in a way that makes me want to read it.”
2. Be Specific About What You Want
“Storytelling is especially important if you’re pitching yourself in a cold email,” McGoodwin told me. “Tell the story of you and what you’re interested in and what you’re looking for. Make it interesting. Make me want to hear more. Also be really clear about your ask. If you’re cold-emailing, is it because you’re interested in a job? Is there a job you’re specifically interested in? Do you want to have an informational interview?”
Be wary of copy-and-pasting the same thing when you reach out to different companies, though: “They can always tell,” said McGoodwin. “It’s obvious when someone has a template and just changes the job title and the company over and over again. You’d be better off not sending anything.”
3. Keep Things Concise
“There’s a reason the phrase ‘elevator pitch’ exists,” said McGoodwin. “When I was a recruiter, people would take 30 minutes to answer the question, ‘Tell me about yourself.’ That’s way too long. You need to be short, concise and specific. You should also tailor your answer based on what the company cares about. What do they want to know about you? Probably not what internship you had in high school.”
She also emphasized the power of a good conclusion: “I cringe when people are pitching themselves and at the end they say something like, ‘And that’s about it!’ It ruins the whole pitch because the last thing you say is the last thing your interviewer is going to remember. A more strategic way of wrapping things up would be to say, ‘Because of my interest in X, I found this role particularly compelling.’”
4. Don’t Underestimate Your Delivery
“Often times people will just write out their pitch instead of saying it out loud,” McGoodwin said. “But the way you talk and the way you write are probably going to be a bit different. You need to get comfortable hearing the words come out of your mouth so when you’re sitting in the actual interview, you’ll sound fluid instead of overly rehearsed.”
5. Lean Into Your Soft Skills
“I was an admin assistant and I wanted to be a recruiter, but I’d never worked in that field before,” McGoodwin said of the sometimes-tricky task of selling yourself when you don’t technically have experience for a role you want. “When I interviewed for a recruiting role at a tech company, I connected the dots between responsibilities they listed in the job description and specific qualities I knew I had to offer. For example, I said I liked working with people, which is an important quality for a recruiter but not necessarily a hard skill.”
6. Sell Yourself As a Solution
“When you’re pitching yourself to a company, you should never ask what they’re looking for or say something like, ‘I can do a little bit of everything,’” said McGoodwin. “You should have already done research to find out exactly what they’re looking for and exactly what you can do for them. Companies don’t hire people because they enjoy handing out salaries and benefits. They hire people because they have a problem that needs to be solved. In your pitch, you need to sell them a solution.”
Career Contessa also has a free guide for how to sell yourself, which you can download here.
Illustration via Getty Images.
Harling is a writer and was most recently the Brand Director at Man Repeller.