Packaging Yourself for Success
With the holidays just around the corner and Black Friday in the recent past, we all find ourselves enveloped once again in the busiest retail season of the year. In light of this often hectic season, have you stopped to consider the tremendous amount of effort expended by retailers to produce appealing product packaging? Studies indicate that packaging plays a critical role in providing consumers with increased motivation to buy. Furthermore, best-selling products fulfill consumers’ expectations to be inspired, persuaded, and invited to purchase a product based upon the product’s packaging.
Similarly, packaging yourself for employment is one of the most important elements of landing a great job.
What is packaging?
Packaging is branding yourself to employers. It is how you look, speak, distinguish yourself from the competition, and sell yourself to your customer – the employer.
So, if you’re the product, how can you distinguish yourself from the competition and package yourself for success?
Here are four essential packaging elements to consider:
At a recent trip to the grocery store, I eyed a box of brownies. The brownies pictured on the packaging looked absolutely delicious, and I could visualize myself tasting them. However, after reviewing the specific ingredients and nutritional facts, I decided that buying them wouldn’t fit in with my diet and exercise goals.Similarly, employers expect your resume to be immaculate, attractive, and inviting. It should provide detailed evidence of relevant education, skills, competencies, and experiences (ingredients and facts) that make you a perfect fit for the position and goals of the company. You should be able to expound upon each element in your resume and provide relevant examples. A good resume should be straightforward, easy to read, and sell how you will benefit the company. It should also be completely free of any grammar, punctuation, formatting or spelling errors. It wouldn’t hurt to have a friend, family member, or Bryan University faculty or staff review your resume and provide feedback as well.
- Personal Appearance
When I look for a product in the marketplace, I look for something that is visually pleasing. There might be two competing products on the shelf made from similar ingredients and have similar pricing. If all else is essentially equal, I find myself reaching for the product with the best looking presentation and appearance. Similarly, when you get called in for the interview, dress your best. Dress in business attire, even if your interviewer is wearing jeans and a t-shirt. Make sure you are well-groomed and avoid chewing gum. Ask your friends and family how you look and if improvement is needed. Some time ago, I was searching for work and thought my personal appearance looked great. In preparation, I dressed up in a nice suit and held a mock interview on a recorded video camera. After the interview was done, I watched the footage and evaluated myself. As a result, I ended up shaving and getting a haircut the next day!
- The Interview
Once you thoroughly prepare your resume and you’re confident in your personal appearance, how do you distinguish yourself with an employer during the interview?Let’s say you are selling a new product that is unfamiliar to buyers. One effective selling tactic is to hand out free samples. You might setup a free sample cart at a grocery store so customers can discover whether to make a buying decision. Similarly, the interview is the employer’s way of sampling what you have to offer. So, how do you let your potential employer sample your brand during an interview?One idea is to bring additional documentation or a personal portfolio of your work and qualifications. For example, if you are interviewing for a writing position, bring some samples of your writing. If you are interviewing for a health and fitness position, bring current copies of your first aid, CPR, and personal training certifications. If you mentioned your 3.8 college GPA on your resume, and you were an Honor Roll student, bring a copy of your transcript, along with your Honor Roll certificate. Providing the employer with a portfolio of documents will help make the interview more memorable.
Next, make sure you prepare, prepare and prepare some more! Know what’s on your resume and how to explain all of the details about your prior employment history and how you handled transitions to new employment and school. Be prepared to respond to questions about how you handled difficult situations at work. When you’re asked, “tell us about yourself,” the employer isn’t asking about your family pet. Be able to describe your educational experiences, prior employment, accomplishments, and skills and how these are relevant to the position you are interviewing for. Make sure you explain how you will benefit the organization. Also explain how you went above and beyond to succeed in these environments.
Finally, give the employer something that will stick with them after you leave the room. When I was in college, I had a professor who explained to me why he was chosen for the position over other candidates. My professor had the same skills and education as the other candidates, but he also spent time teaching in Africa. The interviewer expressed an interest in wanting to go to Africa, which gave my professor the opportunity to discuss a common interest and develop rapport with the interviewer. If you’re able to find a topic of common interest and discuss it, you may find that the bulk of the interview focuses on this one topic!
Once the interview is nearing completion, how do you close it in a way that leaves a lasting impression?Invite the employer to hire you. Just as great product packaging should invite you to buy, so to should you tell the employer that you want to work for their organization. Let them know you’re highly interested in the position, and you’d like to know what’s next in the hiring process and when you will hear from them. You can even try my personal close: why would you hire another candidate over me? This gives you the chance to sell against objections, show your negotiation skills, and add other benefits to the conversation.