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How to Sell Myself to an Employer

by Rick Suttle

In a competitive job market, you might find yourself up against dozens of candidates for the same position. That's why you must sell yourself to a hiring manager during an interview and let him know you're the right person for the job. You can accomplish this by researching the company in advance, practicing with a spouse or friend before the interview, and using several key strategies during the interview that highlight your skills and experience.

Sell Your Skills

Discuss your primary skills during the interview and explain how you used those skills in past roles. Most companies provide job descriptions of open positions, so make sure you obtain copies of them in advance. Study the skills that are most important to the job. Then, during the interview, match your skills to the specific position. To demonstrate communication skills, for example, tell the interviewer how you explained various tasks to colleagues on a past job, demonstrated how you wanted the tasks done, and then held your colleagues responsible for completing them properly. To demonstrate problem-solving skills, explain how you faced a problem in a previous job, studied all possible solutions, and chose the alternative that was most cost-effective and beneficial to your company.

Highlight Accomplishments

Companies hire employees to fill a particular need. That's why you must share key accomplishments on projects that are similar to those you would be working on in the new position. Use SAR (situation, action and result) stories when discussing each accomplishment. For example, in a past job, the situation might have been that you faced declining sales for a certain product line. Your actions as a product engineer were to conduct research with customers, find out new features they desired, developed better products and set prices for them. The result was that sales increased 20 percent that year. By providing these kinds of specific details, you can sell yourself as someone who recognizes the importance of analyzing problems and arriving at positive solutions.

Ask Intelligent Questions

Companies will evaluate your cognitive skills and interest in the job by the questions you ask. Therefore, ask questions in a logical format during an interview, instead of skipping around and returning to a previous question. Start with questions about the role you will play, such as "What will I be doing in the new job?" and "Who will I work with?" These questions enable the interviewer to picture you doing the job -- a powerful selling strategy for interviews. Also, ask about the criteria for which your performance will be evaluated, and typical career paths for the people who have had the job. Avoid asking questions you could have researched on the company's website, such as what products it specializes.

Ask for Job

Ask for the job at the end of the interview. Just as salespeople ask for sales, you must use a similar selling strategy to convince an employer to hire you. You don't have to come across as desperate when you ask for a job. Say, "I've shown how I could contribute a great deal to your company, and I'd really like to work here. Do you have any other questions for me?" If you want to determine if the interviewer has any hesitations about hiring you, ask him. This gives you one more chance to overcome any objections he might have.

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