As a candidate, it is important that you establish a comfort level with the notion that you are selling your “unique value proposition” with every conversation, interview and/or social interaction. This pitch, also called a personal branding statement or an “elevator pitch” can often serve as the strongest weapon in your career arsenal and will exponentially improve your networking, interviewing and employment success. This unique value proposition is also a critical element in writing an effective and memorable cover letter and writing a great LinkedIn profile. Now, grab a pen and some paper to start drafting the components of your unique value proposition.
“What is your name?"
This may seem like an obvious question but you need to be clear and consistent with the name you want to use professionally. This can be a challenge for those of us with maiden names or for people that prefer a shortened name or nickname. For instance, a man named James could theoretically go by “James”, “Jim”, “Jimmy”, “Jamie” or even “Jimbo”. What impressions do you hold for each name? Professionals should only use a name that positively impacts other’s perceptions.
“What do you do?” or “What role or service do you succeed at or what do you hope to do in your next role?”
Feel free to be creative here. If you are a Salesperson for an HR outsourcing firm, you could mention how you assist companies connect with experts to put HR best practices in place. If you are a Project Manager, you could say that you work with large enterprises to ensure that their critical initiatives are delivered on time, on budget, and in line with the end user’s business objectives.
You can also say what you are: Developer, QA Specialist, Database Administrator. Be authentic! Is your self-image tied to your title, or is it a specific facet of your job/career? In this instance, there is no correct answer. While you need to be accurate about your qualifications and core focus, you have the option of stating either who you work for/ what your title is, or focusing more on what is important to you about what you do and frame it in terms of where you want to go next.
“What are you passionate about?” and “What drives you?”
Your passions/drivers can include an industry, platform, product, environmental concern or industry best practice. This is also an opportunity for you to state if there is an aspect within your current role that you are passionate about. If a personal passion is driving a career change, this is a a great place to communicate this. By highlighting your personal passions/drivers, you will appear to be much more interesting, credible, and persuasive.
“How do others benefit from working with you?”
This is an opportunity for you to really toot your own horn! Be sure to highlight any accomplishments, traits, unique expertise that you can bring to an organization.
“Where are you going?”
This is an opportunity for you to articulate your career goals, aspirations and vision. Additionally, you may want to communicate any plans that you may have for relocation, continued education and/or certification opportunities. This piece is very important; as it will demonstrate that you are forward-looking and also will provide the listener with the opportunity to provide help or advice.
Next Steps for Your Unique Value Proposition...
Compile your answers for each of the five questions/concepts above into a single paragraph that truly sells “you”. Read your Unique Value Proposition aloud and tweak if necessary. Your proposition should sound natural and last no more than twenty seconds. Practice with a friend, significant other, mentor, colleague, or a recruiter so that you can become comfortable using it and receive feedback. Your Unique Value Proposition should be used at networking events, interviews, introductions, when you catch up with people from your past, or when you talk to colleagues. This statement can also be applied to the career objective on your resume, your profile statement in various social media platforms (LinkedIn, etc), and every cover letter you may write.