How to Sell Yourself: 5 Tips

Advertising and applying for a job have 2 things in common: smart brand-building and persuasion. Although having an impressive résumé and strong recommendations may be enough to get a job interview, they do not guarantee getting the job. To get it, you need to pitch your personal brand in an appealing way. Here are 5 tips on how to achieve that:

1. Focus on your potential. To give an effective sales pitch, you need to be aware of “our unconscious preference for potential over actual success”. In practice, that means that you should not highlight your accomplishments – as is often recommended but should present your potential for success instead. According to StanfordHarvard Business School research, the potential for success is more interesting because it is less certain that actual success. While facing uncertainty, the human brain tends to process information longer and more in depth. That in turn can lead to a more positive view of a high-potential person and, consequently, help close a deal.

2. Be a unicorn. Susannah Breslin, Senior Contributor to Forbes, estimates that 99% of the e-mail pitches she receives are boring. In her opinion, people tend to pitch “unoriginal versions of themselves”. Needless to say, pitches lacking originality will not be effective. Gregg Herning, the author of Being the Unicorn: The Business Guide to Being Magical, Mystical, and Getting Noticed, notes that creating “a unique, memorable personal brand” is essential at every career stage. To create such a brand, it is necessary to challenge conventional thinking and to stand out so that you can be noticed.

3. Listen. On average, we spend 60% of our conversations talking about ourselves. Why do we do so? Because it feels good. When we are talking about ourselves, our bodies release dopamine, the pleasure hormone. If you speak more than you listen, your interviewer might feel left out of the conversation. Instead of talking too much about yourself, let him/her talk and ask a lot of questions about the job or company that interests you. You will be perceived as someone who is genuinely interested in what the interviewer has to say.

4. Understand the brand. During a job interview, try to show your interviewer what you can do for the company he/she represents. For example, you could suggest that you could improve the company’s online image or streamline its systems to increase efficiency. Then using your previous experience or specific skills, you should highlight how you would achieve that. In this way, you will still be selling yourself, but your sales pitch will be better tailored to specific needs of the company you would like to work for.

5. Add value. In your sales pitch, you should highlight the value that you can deliver to the company. More specifically, you should demonstrate how you could address its needs or suggest some possible solutions to its problems. If on the spot you do not know what its needs are, you should simply ask so that you could avoid talking about irrelevant stuff. By doing so, you are more likely to position yourself as a valuable asset to the company.

References:  Jacquelyn Smith, | Heidi Grant, Harvard Business Review | Susannah Breslin, Forbes | Anne Fisher, | Gregg Herning, Being the Unicorn: The Business Guide to Being Magical, Mystical, and Getting Noticed | Judith Humphrey, Fast Company | Jennifer Parris, | Kudzanai Mutendadzamera,