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It's about what you can bring

| Wednesday, June 19, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

I met a friend for dinner the other evening to talk about his career and what he can do now that he is, well, let's just say joining the decade of people whose backs are giving out.

He has been a landscaper for the last umpteen years and he needs to move on to work that is more charitable to the human body.

It turns out that he knows what he wants to do next: He wants to teach, something he did 15 years before and loved.

He has all the essentials and he still has a fiery passion for the work.

What's missing is an essential point of view, one that you need before you head into the job-hunting wilderness.

Like my friend, you likely tell employers what you have: A certain degree. So many years in the field. An internship or two. The desire to make a difference. References from important people. An interest in working with animals or numbers or whatever brought you to your field.

But in marketing yourself, this particular point of view is fundamental. And you can discover it through a simple technique.

New York-based copywriter and humorist Don Hauptman, reminded me of the technique he once learned that's as old as the hills but still applies and always will.

“The approach the instructor taught was to begin with these four magic words: ‘I can bring you, ' ” Hauptman says.

What's so great about that? The phrase connects the applicant's experience to the employer and his wants and needs, Hauptman says.

It makes you think like an employer, which is the secret to getting hired.

As one employer told me, “It is saying to me that you own something you can give me. I can clearly see what I'd be paying you to bring to our company.”

For example, let's say you're looking for a job as a hydrologist.

The I-have response would go like this: “I have a bachelor's degree and a state license, experience with computer modeling, digital mapping and field experience from a summer internship.”

The I-can-bring-you response would sound like this: “I can bring you the skills to assess building sites for potential geologic hazards. I can bring you the knowledge that helps mitigate the effects of natural hazards and determine the effects of pollutants on soil and ground water so engineers can design remediation systems.”

If you want a job as an account executive in an advertising agency, it's one thing to say, “I'm good at developing relationships and have experience managing promotional campaigns, working closely with creative people and getting things done.”

That's telling me what you have.

It's another thing to say, “I can bring you new clients. I can bring you the skills and knowledge to add media buying to your list of services. I can bring you a database of decision-makers that will let you target the two industries you want to break into.”

That's connecting your experience and skills with what I need.

These examples show that you know what the organization is in business to accomplish.

Yes, you need to figure out what you have. But then you must to turn that into words that are music to an employer's ears: what you can deliver.

Contact Andrea Kay at andrea@andreakay.com.

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