I’m letting you in on a secret today. I’m explaining how to position yourself in the job market. This is what I do for paying clients. I’m sharing my tried-and-true process so you can arm yourself with two of the most powerful tools in your job search toolkit:
- Your tagline
- Your full positioning statement
The tagline is a condensed phrase that defines you. The full positioning statement expands on the tagline by focusing on three to five main points. Because the positioning statement will be used in your resume, your LinkedIn profile, and your interviewing process, it’s important.
The first step is to complete a brainstorming exercise. It’s fun. Make a list of possible attributes, values, and differentiators based on the exercises you completed in part 1 and part 2 of this blog series and your research.
When you brainstorm don’t judge or evaluate. Just write anything and everything that pops into your mind when you ask yourself: If I were creating my ideal career, I would ____________.
Look through the words and phrases you’ve identified, and see what stands out. You may be many things, but pick one to emphasize. If it’s difficult to narrow your phrases down, keep brainstorming and you may find words that fit you perfectly.
Brian Kurth, author of “Test Drive Your Dream Job,” suggests creating a collage of your interests. You would collect quotes, photos, words, and inspiration from magazines, newspapers, and materials you find online. You can even create a Pinterest board for this. Pinterest allows you to make up to three private boards, so don’t think that all the world has to see your online collage. Then, mine that board to find the theme to your personal positioning.
Here’s More Help
The tagline is one sentence, at least five words, but no more than 10 words. It needs to be easy to understand and easy to remember.
Use this formula to create your tagline:
job title > differentiator
Don’t worry about pronouns. For example:
- big four accountant with operations experience in Fortune 500 companies
- security guard with anti-terrorist training and ability to identify hidden patterns
- hazmat manager with mechanical engineering degree from University of Virginia
Your full positioning statement is that tagline, but backed up by qualifications, accomplishments, and evidence. Your statement might be just a single sentence, or it might be three to five sentences, but whatever your claims are, you’ll need to add supporting details.
Both the tagline and the statement should be clear and concise and written in present tense. They should highlight your expertise and unique abilities. You can “name drop” by including well-known companies, schools, and credentials in your positioning.
To round out your statement, ask yourself:
- Who is my target employer? (industry, size of company, public/private/non-profit)
- What problem or issue are they wanting to hire people to solve?
- What results can the employer expect by hiring me? What solution do I provide?
- What proof do I have that I can deliver results?
- What sets me apart from other candidates? What makes me different or memorable?
Now you’re going to take your tagline, and add some details, personal pronouns, and verbs to turn it into a few sentences. Here is my formula to make it easier.
job title > target audience/what I do > industry or field > achievements or results
So, a statement might look like this:
I am a (job title/profession) who (works with target audience or who does XYZ) in the (industry or field) to (accomplishments or results).
Filled out more completely, it looks like this:
I am a public relations specialist who provides media relations and race promotion services to the cycling community to help races attract more participants, media attention, and sponsor support.
But don’t try to stuff too much information into the statement. How can you tell overstuffed from just right? It’s overstuffed if you have more than one conjunction such as “and” per sentence, or more than two punctuation marks such as commas or semicolons per sentence.
Here are more tips to success.:
- Don’t use big words in an attempt to impress. You want everything you write to be easily read.
- When possible, incorporate keywords, all the nouns or phrases that you know from your online job searches. These words are used in applicant tracking systems, so employers can find you easier if you use them.
- Make sure your positioning reflects your personality. Be personal but businesslike.
- Be specific about your personal values, qualifications, and attributes, especially if they are an important ingredient for the job you want.
- Be concise. This is not the place to tell your life story. Get to the point quickly.
- Choose words that are lively and descriptive, not boring. You need to get the reader’s attention!
Effective positioning is a win/win deal. Recruiters and hiring managers respond better when they can see clearly what kind of position you’re focused on.
And, it’s much easier for you to find that job you will love if you know while you’re searching exactly what kind of job you really want.
Why Wait? Do Your Homework Now
Don’t think that you should wait to work on your personal positioning until you are looking for a new job. The interesting thing is that personal positioning can help you be more effective and visible in your current job. Here’s how:
- You offer to do a presentation showing your (or your group’s) accomplishments for the quarter. By so doing, you build a case for a raise or promotion. Often upper management isn’t aware of all that goes on in a company. You’ve called attention to yourself in a good way.
- You contact your company’s communications department to see if they are interested in doing an article for the company newsletter on a recent project. You position yourself as an initiator, something employers like.
- You keep building your “Accomplishments Journal” and document your current career successes. Not only will it help you when you work with me on your resume, but you’ll interview better. Ongoing documentation helps keep you on track with your goals and is an on-the-job motivator.
There are few job opportunities for average performers. But there are tremendous opportunities for stars. Positioning helps you define yourself as a star performer. It builds your case by spotlighting whatever documentation you have that supports your claim to stardom. This is no time for modesty. Remember, superstars stand out!