Selling Yourself in a Job Search

Posted by Patra Frame

One of the harder aspects of a great job search is learning to think about yourself in terms of what an employer wants. That is what it really means to see the value you can add to the employer. And underlies the idea of “You As a Product.”

Most of us never think of ourselves that way.

But it is quite useful to a successful job search.

So what does “You As a Product” mean to you?

First, think about products we commonly use and see advertised. A car is basically a transportation method designed to get you and your family, groceries, or whatever – to somewhere. But no car company advertises that way in the USA.

This car ad appeals to those who want to go fast, that one ups your sex appeal, another is young and fun, and still another keeps your family safe. Car companies seek to understand their markets and then use that knowledge to sell a car to consumers.

You know this game. You see it with military equipment too. And this is the same game you need to play when you are looking for work.

Yes, you can learn to think of yourself as a product. Better yet, you can create a “Great Product” by understanding yourself and your target market!

Define yourself in terms that will appeal to the employers you are targeting.

A data analyst who wants to work in a large government contractor will present a very different resume and picture of her background than one who aspires to join a Silicon Valley start-up.

  • – For the large government contractor: the analyst could emphasize security clearance level, the large scale projects worked on, education and military training, process and procedures used.
  • – For the Silicon Valley start-up: the analyst could talk about innovative work done, ability to deal with rapid change, flexibility learned in military situations, diversity of people worked with.

These are both simple examples to give you a basic idea of the concept of “you as a product.”

And yes, the same person could be interested in two such different markets, with two significantly different resumes – each focused on aspects of his or her background appropriate to the target employer.

Start by learning all you can about your target market:

  • – What types of employers and work are you most interested in doing?
  • – What do those employers expect?
  • – What issues are they facing?
  • – What is the work like in that industry?

Once you understand the market, you can look at what you offer in their terms.

This means thinking about your past successes in depth. Mine each for the aspects which are most closely related to your targets’ needs.

Remember that you are a unique combination of knowledge, skills, experience, and attitudes.

Too often we present a flat picture of our history, and call it a resume. But employers want to know what you can do for them in terms that they understand. They want you to show why they should hire you.

  • – Are you the person who knew the regulations – and how to get around them?
  • – Or the person who could rally others to get the job done in tough circumstances?
  • – Have you grabbed every bit of education and training possible and thrived in each course?
  • – Did you get put into tasks because your ability to work well with a wide range of demanding people was critical?
  • – Are you the person that got to orient and train each newbie?

Your past successes tell you all sorts of these things. Your resume should capture these attributes as surely as it captures your technical skills, upward progression, or management prowess.

Take your military experience and other knowledge and skills and present them in the lingo of your preferred job. Don’t fear that all you knew was a war zone or work you no longer are interested in.

Tap into sites specifically designed to help you translate skills into job options.

Bottom Line

If you are the product – what product are you offering? And what is your target market? Figure that out first and make your opportunities GROW!

This post originally ran on


This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 12, 2011 11:31 am

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