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Friday, August 12, 2011

Doin' What Comes Naturally!

When working with unemployed clients—whether they’re recent grads, or people with established resumes—one thing I’m obsessed with, is helping them start to see themselves differently. I help them start to consider how they're going to market themselves. Because, let’s face it, the economy is brutal; it’s like living inside a 3-D episode of “Shark Week.” I have clients who, in a functioning economy, would be profiled lovingly on some CNBC show celebrating garish, obscene wealth and why it makes people happy. (Discuss.) Instead: they’re “consulting.” (*cough cough*)

Eventually, we’ll probably all end up bartering goods for services and growing vegetables on a commune in Montana… but in the meantime, the bills are still due and  it’s crucial to see yourself from a potential employers’ POV: why should someone hire you? What “value” do you offer? I’m using the term” value” only insofar as it relates to a paycheck, by the way. What knowledge, in the sense of relevant and up-to-date skills, industry experience, and rain-making connections do you bring? Why would it be worth an employer’s time and money to hire you, and thus have to invest company resources in you? What return-on-invest can an employer hope to reap from your employment? The focus here being your concrete skills, not your grades or degree.

How do you figure out what your professional value is? Think back on your professional career, or when you were in school; think about your internships, volunteer positions, the odd-jobs you held: what were you good at? When did you excel? Were you talented at getting information?  Analysis? Writing? Crunching numbers? Are you detail-oriented, or a big-picture type of person? Are you good with people, or did they keep you locked away from humanity? The more specific your answers are, the easier it will be for you to envision a good professional match.

For example: when I was brainstorming my business, I kept thinking of the period when I had been happiest in my previous career in TV news: deadlines. (Because, unfortunately, it does not appear that anyone will pay 
me for my ability to scream and throw phones at incompetent TV writers. Alas.) I absolutely loved it when I had to get results under tremendous pressure. When the clock was ticking, and I had to use all my skills—researching, writing, interviewing, analyzing, for example—to problem solve and make air. Kind of like what I do now with clients, except without this…

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