You may not think you’re in a sales job, but the likelihood is that you are – in our day to day lives we spend our time either selling or having someone else sell to us. Here, Toastmasters International’s Richard Pimm explains the ways in which you can find your sales voice to influence the people around you

When you are trying to persuade or influence someone, you are selling. If you’re being interviewed for a job the recruiter has to buy into what you are saying. They must see you as a credible person who can do the job. So don’t be pushed around. Take charge of your life and use your influence to get where you want to go.

Let’s look at selling yourself in the context of job-seeking in more detail. One thing is sure if you don’t sell yourself when looking for a job you shouldn’t be surprised if someone else gets the job you thought was perfect for you.

Jobseekers often complain about how they could do a better job than someone else they know. And maybe they could, but it’s not enough to be good, you have to get noticed; you have to market yourself, promote your own brand, influence…You have to sell yourself. Do this and you will carve out opportunities for yourself, as well as inviting opportunities to find you.

Anyone looking for candidates wants to know what you are, first. For example, are you an IT professional? Are you an experienced dancer? And yet, incredibly, when jobseekers are asked this predictable question, they all too often give an unclear, fluffy answer, or even worse, they tell their life story.

Do you know what your core message is? Are you communicating that verbally, via your CV, via your LinkedIn profile, via your elevator pitch? Do you even know what you are right now?

Try to avoid the I-don’t-like-to-pigeon-hole-myself cop-out, because if you can’t present your skill-set succinctly, recruiters and hirers will struggle to understand your place in the workforce, and if this happens, they won’t bring their vacancies to you.

When searching for a new book to read, you don’t open the book, you read the synopsis on the back. Your core message, or ‘elevator pitch’, is your synopsis and vital if you want to get noticed amid all the noise that is social media and the sheer pace of life today. It is not just a useful tool in itself, but the process of writing a well-crafted elevator pitch will help you, the jobseeker, get clarity of thought where your skills are concerned, which will help you generate a confident mind-set for your job search and the subsequent job interviews.

Selling yourself starts with getting noticed. Distil your message down to draw people’s attention to the crucial information first, so that they actually want to learn more about you. Remember: first impressions are incredibly important. Once you’ve crafted your elevator pitch you should use it at the beginning of your CV/resume and then build the broader message around it.

Your CV/resume is the tool that provides more information about you, now that you’ve been noticed. Its purpose is to secure you an interview. Avoid the mistakes that so many people make: the clichés, repetition, fluff and opinion. Use facts and achievements to inform and impress.

Now you have improved content, you can use it to good effect in your LinkedIn profile. When you are a jobseeker, your LinkedIn profile makes for an excellent online CV. In fact, it’s even better than a CV for a multitude of reasons, not least: the fact that it’s in the public domain makes it less likely to be greatly embellished. Use your elevator pitch in the summary of your profile because it’ll help create that all-important good first impression. Add good use of ‘keywords’ – the words that are most likely to be used to find someone of your skill-set. Use the most important keywords in the most prominent parts of your profile.

So now you have a clear message that you are making available to people who just might be the gatekeepers to the career you want. But it doesn’t end there. Through social media we now have unprecedented access to the who-is-who of the working population. It has never been easier to identify your next potential boss by way of a speculative approach.

The estimate is that up to 70% of executive positions are NOT advertised. That makes 30% that are very competitive. Do you want to scramble about in the 30% pool? Or would you rather land that next opportunity by showing some initiative? True: you won’t know where those opportunities are, but just like in sales, you increase your luck by increasing your activity. The more approaches you make to potential hiring managers, the more likely you are to find one who is interested in hiring you! The only exception to this is if your skills are no longer sought after, and if that’s the case, either re-skill or retire.

So what can we take from this?

  1. It’s not enough to be good; you have to get noticed.
  2. Find out what is important for you communicate?
  3. Get clarity and you’ll get confidence.
  4. First impressions really are that important.
  5. Use your individualism.
  6. Social media is changing everything. Get on board!
  7. Play the game well – seek out competitive advantage.
  8. Be proactive and use your initiative.

If you’re looking for a promotion with your current employer then do some analysis. Do they promote shrinking violets? Probably not. Who are the decision makers who need to notice you? What do you need to communicate to them to get their full attention? Why should they promote you as opposed to your colleagues? Can social media help you demonstrate your skill, or perhaps help you to improve your skill by getting advice from people who know? The question you to keep asking yourself is – How can I get promoted? With the answers you can take the action you need. Find your sales voice and use it!