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There is no 'I' in career

| Wednesday, July 10, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

“Hire me!” signs were back again this year in college commencement crowds across the United States.

The signs inevitably show up in a newspaper photo somewhere. Like the one that ran recently in The New York Times with this caption describing a young man holding a “Hire me!” sign:

“Jeffrey Canas of Union City N.J., expressed his post-graduation expectations at Rutgers University last month.”

And that explains why so many young people can't get jobs.

The sentiment to just “Hire me!” breaks job-hunting rule No. 1: It's not about you.

Yes, you just spent the past four or more years of your life studying to become a product analyst, marketing expert, graphic designer, teacher or some other professional. From your point of view, it is all about you, and it makes sense to shout, “Hire me!”

You've got loans to pay off and parents bugging you to get a job. If only someone would hire you, your troubles would be over, right?

Here's the thing: Employers don't give a darn about all that.

Here's what they do care about: making money, attracting customers, staying alive, growing their business, making customers and clients happy, staying out of trouble with the IRS or FDA, getting good press and accomplishing their firm's mission.

So new graduates might get better results if they held up a sign that takes the employer's point of view into consideration. Depending on the line of work you want, the sign might read:

• I can make your products more innovative.

• I can help design more energy-efficient buildings.

• I can get you more clients.

• I can help you design safe products.

• I can help you use the latest technology.

• I can help you sell more product.

• I can prepare your students for life.

• I can help you attract more customers.

• I can help run your business more efficiently.

• I can create visually arresting concepts that make people buy.

• I can help you make people's lives safer.

These focus on what the employer cares about. It's not about you.

And that leads me to job hunting rule No. 2: It's about them and their business.

Here's an exercise to help you get your “What I can do for them” message across.

Sit in a quiet place and figure out:

• What top skills and talents do I bring to an employer?

• What knowledge do I bring?

• What experience do I bring?

• What attitudes and beliefs do I hold when it comes to approaching problems, people and situations?

• What do I stand for?

• How does what I bring make a difference to a company?

Use that information to craft cover letters and prepare for interviews.

It won't get you 15 minutes of fleeting fame, but it will definitely make an employer think twice about why to hire you.

Career consultant Andrea Kay is the author of “This Is How To Get Your Next Job: An Inside Look at What Employers Really Want.” She can be reached at andrea@andreakay.com. Twitter: @AndreaKayCareer.

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