How to formulate your 'value proposition'
Whether you are interviewing for a job, vying for a promotion or just trying to get recognized for contributing in your job, have you ever been asked, “What is your value proposition?”
Huh? What's a value proposition, you say? It's an increasingly common term used to describe the marketable skills, benefits or tangible results you provide your employer and the unique way you do that. Salespeople use the term all the time, but lately it's being used more broadly to describe the value an employee brings an employer. Another word for “value proposition” in today's parlance is your “brand.” In days gone by, it was simply one's “reputation.”
Whatever you call it, you need to know what yours is.
Wexford-based career strategist Betty Berkely says, “All of us have a brand, but most of us can't articulate what it is or why it's important. It is your expertise or track record of delivering results, which in turn attracts interest and highlights that which you do better than anyone else.”
Berkely asserts that, “Because brands create a clear message about you, they can create demand for your expertise and can lead to growth opportunities, as well as more satisfying work experiences.” Those are compelling reasons for you to know your brand. Here are a few examples to help you formulate yours:
• Entrepreneurial sales executive with uncanny ability to anticipate and capitalize on market opportunities. Draws on an inclusive management style that leads to high levels of communication and motivation.
• Technical writer with a keen ability to explain the complex simply or, when appropriate, with humor.
• Hyper-efficient, uber-organized, unshakably calm and pleasant administrative assistant.
Logical places for your value proposition are your resume, your LinkedIn profile, your marketing literature or biography. If it is short enough, you might even put it on your business card, especially if you are a job seeker. You should be able to verbally communicate your brand in 30 seconds or less. In fact, Berkeley says that the most memorable brand statements are 10 words or less. Most importantly of all, though, your behaviors must demonstrate your brand. At work, you have opportunities to do that every day. If you are interviewing, you must be ready to describe a number of specific situations where you behaved in a manner consistent with your brand.
While your value proposition should ideally be brief, long can also work. I recently reviewed a resume of someone applying for an office manager position in an unusually challenging and dynamic business environment. Her value proposition was lengthy but persuasive:
“I am seeking a diverse position with the capability for advancement. I have experience working flexible hours, independently, in small crews, and with large groups of people ranging in age. I have been successful in office duties, sales, service industry, manual labor, data recording/entry, and inventory. I'm eager to learn. I'm personable, hardworking, and honest. I am not troubled by criticism or hesitant to take charge of any situation. My goal is to remain in good spirits, quick to react, and give it my all every day.”
In the interview, she verified her brand with many compelling examples, thus demonstrating she was a perfect cultural fit for the position, with all the requisite skills. She was hired within 24 hours of her interview.