I hope it’s not a secret that I think a “Personal Value Proposition” (PVP) approach to job search is a terrific step in the process and has any number of benefits. I’ve mentioned Dana Chaffin before and he linked a terrific article that Bill Barnett posted on the Harvard Business Review Blog. It covers the “how to” of PVPs as well as any I’ve seen.
From his blog:
“Here are four steps to develop a strong PVP:
- “Set a clear target. The PVP begins with a target, one that needs what you have to offer. You’ll prefer some directions, not others. Targeting will make you most effective.
- “Identify your strengths. It may sound obvious, but what you know and what you can do are the foundation of your PVP. Hone in on what those are.
- “Tie your strengths to your target position. Don’t leave it up to the employer to figure out how your strengths relate to what she needs. Let your PVP tightly connect you to the position. Connect the dots for her. Consider her perspective and know why she should hire you or promote you.
- “Provide evidence and success stories. Your strengths may be what an employer is “buying,” but your achievements are the evidence you have those strengths. They make your case convincing. Some people prepare a non-confidential portfolio to showcase that evidence in a vivid way. They collect reports they wrote that had impact. They pull together facts on measurable achievements such as sales growth or cost reduction.”
Barnett uses the example of a CEO level candidate who is very clear in what he is looking for and has an outstanding PVP. Not everyone has one of these and it’s very easy to read the example and think that because you are looking for a job as a systems developer or a medical assistant or some other non-C level role (as in CEO, COO, CFO, etc) that this is a process you really can’t pursue. Well, maybe.
I will argue that these four steps are fundamental to job search in any market, but especially in today’s. For all of the complaining business does about qualified candidates, my experience points to the fact that there are lots of them. In order to be successful with this level of competition, you need to be focused. The truth is that “just looking for a job” means you probably won’t get one. The number of people competing for positions is normally ridiculous.
So let’s go through the steps:
- Set a clear target. Who do you want to work for? What do you want to do? What problems do you want to address? As you develop answers to these questions, it becomes easier to dig through the myriad job boards on the web and identify opportunities that you have a real shot at, and will excel at. It also becomes easier to research local companies and choose some subset where you can focus your networking. In fact this is just the beginning of things you can do when you have a clear target, all of which will bring you closer to an actual job.
- Identify your strengths. Your strengths are those pieces of your brand which you want to be hired for. When you are hired for your strengths you will be able to set expectations effectively, then exceed them. When you know your strengths you can evaluate opportunities effectively. In other words knowing your strengths is a cornerstone of a successful, effective, satisfying career.
- Tie your strengths to your target position. Your PVP represents those characteristics you have which are the most likely to provide value and provide the most value to your employer. When you’re looking for work, you want someone to hire you for these characteristics. When you are working for a company, these characteristics are the ones you want them to evaluate based on. The core principle is that you are much more likely to excel at what you are good at then to be good at what you’re bad at. So get them to hire you for which a good.
- Provide evidence and success stories. What you told somebody how you work and how that will benefit them you need to first have proof and then present it. In other words it’s great for me to tell you I can build takes, but it doesn’t mean much unless I can also show you evidence of those teams, and of what those teams have accomplished. Part of getting the actual offer is demonstrating to a potential employer that hiring you will make that employer better.
Once you’ve gone through this process and identified these four elements, it will provide a filter for you to go through all of your experience. That filter will influence every part of your job search from then on. When you look at your last job, it will be easier to remember and record the successes that are built around these principles. When someone asks you a question about your previous history, you will naturally remember stories that emphasize your personal strengths and provide proof or at least evidence, of how they will benefit this potential employer.
The point is that the work necessary to develop a personal value proposition is the same work that leads to an effective job search process. It is also the same work that leads to successful execution of new job or your current job.