I’ve been working with job seekers for more than 25 years, yet I constantly encounter individual approaches that cause me to shake my head in wonderment. For example, I had a message on my office voice mail earlier this week that went like this:
“Hi, this is blah-dah-blah (unintelligible name pronunciation). I was wondering if you guys are hiring. Please call me at 240-555-1234.”
Perhaps he was just conducting a survey of local, solo-businesses in Washington County Maryland to report on the current labor market, but I doubt it. My guess is that he is unemployed – and pretty clueless about how to effectively present himself to achieve his goal of employment.
This reminds me of the time an acquaintance was attempting to arrange a blind date between me and one of his relatives. The prospective date phoned me and this is how he introduced himself: “Hi, my name is John Doe (sic). I haven’t dated anyone in a while and I was wondering if you might like to date me.”
Not exactly the best way to make a good first impression!
Before you approach a prospective employer – by phone, email, snail mail, at a networking event or job fair, take some time to develop a script for your introduction. Some refer to this as your “30-Second Commercial” or “Elevator Speech.” It is critical that your introduction answers three burning questions on every employer’s mind:
Who are you, what do you do, and what can you do for me?
First, clearly and precisely state your name. Keep in mind that this is the first time your audience has ever heard your name, so don’t mumble or say it so quickly that it’s unintelligible. Also, if it’s a somewhat unusual name (for example, “Norine Dagliano”), it may take a moment for the listener to grasp it. Ensure that you are heard and understood.
Next, say what you do. Not your job title or that you are unemployed. Focus on your best skills and the types of problems you solve. For example, I might say that “I provide tools, advice and inspiration to help job seekers over come the anxiety of looking for work and land their ideal job.”
Lastly, say something that let’s the listener know that you understand what they need and are eager to fill that need. Which statement impresses you more: “If you hire me to help you find employment, I can pay my bills.” Or, if you hire me, I can help you outshine your competition and get you back to work more quickly.”
Employers hire people who add value and are solutions to their problems. They are not interested in hiring problems that need to be solved.
It may sound overused and somewhat trite, but it’s true – You never get a second chance to make a good first impression. Don’t sink your job search efforts with a sloppy introduction.