3 Questions for Every Unemployed Person to Answer

I love talking with people about finding work. Mainly because of the skewed perspective we have about ourselves when it comes to looking for opportunities. We tend to view our sense of worth on the opportunities we can find instead of what truly matters.

“There is nothing out there for a person like me, so I must be unemployable.”

“I’m over a certain age no one will hire me!”

“I’m over/under qualified for every job I find.”

What a load of malarkey we tell ourselves: Both in the idea of “nothing out there” and the idea of “unemployable.”

Again … Really? You really think your experience has nothing to offer anyone?

This, unfortunately, is a problem with our presentation. We showcased something that gave the prospective employer this impression.

But truthfully … it’s all about the impression we make. You will get hired based upon the impression, presentation and conversation skills you have. If you are not getting hired it’s because you’re misrepresenting yourself. Sorry. That’s just the truth.

But it’s ok. If you can answer these three simple questions you’ll be on the right track to getting opportunities you’re hoping to find.

1) What about you makes you great?

I love this question because very few people can give me an answer. Most of the time we think of ourselves in the employment experience in terms of “job titles.” The problem with a job title is that it tells very little about what we can do. And, even more importantly, how many of us have known a person who didn’t do what their job title was? Have you ever had a “manager” that wasn’t a manager? Or have you ever known a CEO that didn’t know how to manage a company?

The problem with defining yourself in terms of a “job title” is you will always be competing against personal bias. Positive or negative, the experience of the person you are presenting yourself to will always play a factor. If all a person has known is underperforming accountants, presenting yourself as an accountant means you’re starting at a negative disadvantage. The key to changing these assumptions is answering the first question: What about you makes you great?

Once you understand that (and there are many ways to figure it out which I will not go into here, but feel free to read my book to discover a few ways) answering the second question becomes vitally important.

2) What is your prospective employer looking for?

Ok. So this question gets a little tricky, but only for one reason … you need to do some talking. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Employment is found through conversation. It’s not enough for you to just talk to people, you need to listen. And trust me LISTENING is so much more important than talking.

Here are a few absolutes that are undeniable:

  • Everyone in the world has a need.
  • You are the answer to some person/company’s need.
  • You will never discover you’re the solution if all you do is talk.

Very, very, very rarely (I mean to the utmost extreme of rare) does a job description tell you what the problem is for a company. Talk to anyone who has ever hired a person and ask them if the job description did the job “justice” in describing what was needed. You’ll be lucky to find someone who says, “Why yes! This job description says everything that we need to the perfect iota.” It just doesn’t happen. The reason? It’s hard to address the issue that needs to get resolved in a job description. It’s the hopes and dreams of what an ideal candidate would have as a starting point, but that doesn’t say anything about how to resolve the issue. So job descriptions are good starting points, but that’s it … it’s a starting point.

The full picture is told through conversations with those involved. Which means, if you want to get a better understanding of what your prospective employer needs, you better start talking to people. Which sounds scary, but there are very simple ways to start down that road (Once again read my book because I talk A LOT about having conversations with people). I don’t have time to get into all of them, but I promise I’ll do another post on it soon. It’s important. Once you have the conversations and the bigger picture comes into focus it’s time to answer the third question.

3) How is your greatness what prospective employers are looking for?

This is about presentation. I call it Professional Branding and I give free workshops on it every Wednesday in Provo, UT at the LDS Employment Resources Center on Columbia Lane. This is saying the right phrases at the right time to make the powerful impact you need.

People want to be wowed. We want to have that moment of “Really? Can you really do that?” But for most of us just telling me you can do something isn’t meaningful. If I was to say, “I need this piece of software made” someone saying, “Oh I can do that” doesn’t mean anything. I’ve been told that before and it was horrible. But if I was to hear something like, “I worked on a team that wrote 5 mobile apps which increased revenues 300% for xyz company” will make my ears perk up a little. It’s not just experience, but experience with the value I’m interested in knowing about.

These come with Value Statements (again … read my book for more information) which in essence are short stories about yourself which, when presented properly, will WOW people during conversation. There are many different ways to create these statements, but the easiest way is to think of an accomplishment you’ve had. Write the problem you solved and what you did to solve the problem. Then include a number as a result to give it more impact. For example:

At XYZ Company there was a problem with invoices not being paid before 180 days had passed. I implemented a colored folder system to track outstanding debt and collections. Our invoices average collection time went from 180 days to 33 days, an almost 550% increase in Accounts Receivables.

The story is pretty great, but the nice thing is the ability to remove parts you don’t need given the amount of time you have. Value Statements will also lead towards more conversations about what you can do instead of ideas about what you “could” do. They are great little tools to help you stay memorable during any conversation.

And that’s pretty much it: Know yourself; Know your prospective employer; make a presentation. It’s Marketing 101: Know your product; Know your audience; Make a presentation. If you can answer these 3 little questions you’ll be miles ahead of the other people vying for the same position you are. Most of us are too concerned with trying to prove we can do the job instead of showing how we would do the job to make an impact. If you show how the job will be done when you are hired it you’ll be remembered. I know. I’ve seen it over and over again. It all starts with a simple idea:

What makes you great?!?

Answer that and you have the world!!

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