There are over 14 million people out of work with unemployment is at it's highest in 34 years. Competition for jobs in this recession has never been more fierce.
I speak with candidates every week during my resume writing workshops. Too often I encounter a defensive, apologetic attitude among my listeners. Many spend too much time worrying about finding a job and not enough about their true place in this newly evolving economy.
While we can't change the actual number of available jobs, we can change the way we think, and how we present ourselves to those who are "buying". And it is a buyers' market, no question. To become relevant in today's job market, adopt this single most important behavior modification:
Stop acting like a job SEEKER and start acting like an EXPERT in your niche or field.
The biggest mistake that most job seekers make today is to believe that a job is manna doled out from the heavens above. Too many job candidates try to sell their skills or length of service hoping that someone will notice them. If you're still doing this, stop. It's no longer effective in today's job market. Your skills are just a commodity. Thousands have comparable skills or better. You'll never distinguish yourself with this approach.
Embrace a new approach and sell the one thing the employer really needs - your EXPERTISE.
Whatever your role is, you have a bottom line impact on the hiring manager. Your job is to communicate your true value clearly and specifically to your next employer. Your major task is to change your thinking and your behavior from that of a job seeker to that of an expert.
Take some time to develop specific ways to show your expertise in your job or profession. Demonstrate how you help solve a problem or produce a specific positive result for your employer or client.
Sit down with a legal pad and list all of your achievements from current or past jobs. If you're stumped, list your job roles and duties. Then ask the question, "So what?" after each one. What you're after is the ACHIEVEMENT. When I say "achievement", I don't mean the role you played or the duties you fulfilled. What we need here is the end result, the benefit to the client or employer as a result of something that you did or contributed.
How did your employer or client benefit? How was their life made better?
For example, let's say you're a front office manager. One of your achievements was that you decreased file retrieval time by at least 70% by auditing admissions. This resulted in a much more efficiently streamlined filing system.
Here, your expertise is producing time-savings for the front office staff. Now identify other examples of similar accomplishments in your previous work. By describing several examples, you are building a case that proves you are an expert in saving time for the front office.
Here's another example. Let's say you're an operations manager for a medical clinic. One of your past achievements was to reduce your employer's payroll cost by $1,125 per week by the reduction of supervising doctor hours from 5 nights a week to only 2 nights.
Here, your expertise might be reduction of payroll and expenses. Now identify other similar cost reduction examples that prove your expertise in this area.
Promote Your Expertise
When you analyze your achievements, you'll find a pattern emerging around some key areas. This will most likely be your area of expertise. You now have something employers will want. Knowing your areas of expertise, develop a new summary statement on your resume - your USP or Unique Selling Proposition. Your USP incorporates your expertise in plain, return-on-investment language.
For example, the operations manager above might have a USP summary on his resume that reads something like this:
"Innovative Medical Operations Manager whose strengths in cost-cutting and department realignment have saved my employer $300K in 12 months."
Once you've identified your primary expertise, you can position yourself as an expert in that niche on your resume by incorporating this statement. It becomes your verbal "elevator pitch" to use at any in-person meeting as well as during your phone screen and interview. When you back this up with several examples, you stop looking like a job seeker who's merely peddling skills and begin to look like the professional you are - an expert at solving problems in your niche.
Stop thinking of yourself as merely a "job seeker". Replace this defensive mentality in your job search. Shift your mindset to that of an expert in your niche. By developing specific examples of how you've solved past problems for your employer or client, you begin to position yourself as a professional - someone of value to your next employer. You'll gain confidence in your job search and score higher in your interviews. Stop thinking, "I need a job", and start thinking, "I can solve your problem".
As a recruiter, Joe Turner spent 15 years finding and placing top candidates in some of the best jobs of their careers. The author of Job Search Secrets Unlocked and Paycheck 911, Joe also hosts his weekly Job Search Guy Radio Show on JobRadio.fm as well as other locations. You'll find free tips and advice on landing a job in this tough economy at: www.jobchangesecrets.com.
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