See yourself as others see you

What you think really doesn’t matter when you’re pitching yourself for a job. What matters is what the recipient of the pitch thinks: the hirer. What you need to be doing is intuiting what they are looking for and what they are worrying about, so that when they meet you they feel better, they feel that their problems will be taken care of.

So what should they feel when they look at you? Think about it, she is just a person with a job to do and problems to solve, whether she’s in HR or the manager you’d be working for; though in each case their problems will be slightly different. Do this exercise before you write to them or go into the interview: ask yourself “what do they hope they will see in me? What problem or worry do they have that I can help them with?”

Put yourself in their shoes. Forget for a moment about your qualifications and think about her needs. Your predictions might include: I can trust her, I want someone who has worked on projects like mine, I want someone who understands the category, I want someone who will fit in with the team, I want someone who has proven results. This kind of thing. So which of these are the likely triggers for your particular hirer? Which can you support best? Ask yourself these questions and then look at your resume and cover letter and decide whether they are framed to give the right impression.

To do this you need to have a good sense of what you have to offer. You need to understand which of your experiences and skills are relevant to their needs – which ones are important. There is often a difference between important and interesting. Focus on the “important” – and then color it with a little “interesting.” But don’t put so much interesting in that your reader loses sight of the important parts – she is not going to give it that much time before she moves on. And don’t make them work to discover the important parts. Put them up front – tell them what you bring them and then prove it in your chronology or the cases you cite. Don’t make them search for it. Why should they? Surely there is no job in the creative business where effective, powerful presentation of ideas is not important. So show them with your own pitch for yourself that you have that mastered.

So what will they see when they see your resume – or meet you at interview? Will they see a list of qualifications and clients and dates and advancements? Or will they see the answer to their problem? Which would you prefer they see?