I think we can agree that the ultimate goal of four or more years of higher education is to land a job. With that said, what I find most interesting is how so few students I speak with view a job interview, or an interaction with someone who could potentially employ them, as a sales process. Why is it important to view these situations from the point of view of a sale? Because this mindset sets the stage for how you prepare and the way you present yourself.
A sale is made when someone is convinced that a product or service solves their problem. A job listing is evidence that a company has a problem–they need someone with a particular skill set, experience, state of mind, and personality to fill a specific position.
The interview is a one-on-one opportunity to sell yourself as the candidate best suited for their open position. At the heart of every sales presentation are features and benefits. Understanding what they are, and how to use them, gives you a distinct advantage over those who do not.
A feature is a factoid or thing. Your qualifications, courses studied, degree(s), personal and work related experience, volunteer efforts, letters of reference, testimonials, etc., represent your distinctive features.
A benefit is the advantage gained from the feature or what it means to someone else. When looking for a job or sitting in an interview, your ongoing mission is to translate your features into real benefits to the employer. For example, the fact that you interned in a similar type of position over two summers would be a feature. The benefit would be that your work experience will save the company valuable training time.
While attending school, you can give yourself an edge over future similarly qualified job candidates by focusing on what you can do to amass features employers will benefit from. Work experience, positions of responsibility, volunteer work, team building experience, and positions of leadership, are all great examples of features that can easily translate into employer benefits.
After setting the intention to look for a job, remember, the person standing next to you in a que, on a bus, on the subway, in a bar, or on a plane could be the one who could help you reach your goal.
As you are looking for a job, seeing an employer, or their representative, in person is always more preferable to conversing online, because an in person meeting gives you a better opportunity to sell your unique features. Your body language, your attire, tone of voice, and presence cannot be easily conveyed online.
Before leaving the house to attend networking events, job fairs, doing volunteer work, and positioning yourself in places where you can meet people who could lead you to a job, put yourself in sales mode. Dress like someone an employer would want to hire, maintain a positive inner conversation about yourself, have your benefit message in mind, shine your shoes, refrain from using excessive amounts of cologne or perfume, and most of all, run the benefits of hiring you through your mind again and again.
During the four or more years you spend in college or university, future success is squarely in your hands, not those of someone else. This control gives you the power to act accordingly—amassing features that give you a competitive edge.
A word to the wise, make sure your social media reflects the kind of person someone would want to hire, so it doesn’t detract from the features you worked so hard to create.
About the author:
Michael J. Russ is a bestselling author, speaker, and founder of Zero AdversityTM Training. This content was developed based on his book, Smart College Career Moves: What you Can Do Now To Make Yourself More Marketable Later. Michael’s keen ability is developing and conveying practical formulas people can use to eliminate the experience of adversity, align their inner conversation with their goals and intentions, find the job of their dreams, increase their prosperity, and experience the life they envision.