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START to promote yourself effectively. The 5 Minute Career Coach November 2010 Update
November 15, 2010

Helping Career Changers Around The World

November 2010 Update


START to promote yourself effectively

OK, let's face up to it. If you are planning to make a change of career, at some point along the line you are going to have to sell yourself, to promote what you have to offer to a future employer or buyer of your services.

For most people, this strikes fear to the heart. First off, they hate bragging about themselves, secondly, the idea of 'selling' feels slightly distasteful and finally, they don't really know how to put across their strengths and skills in a clear and concise way.

No wonder it feels like an uphill struggle!

Well don't panic, help is at hand in the shape of a simple formula which will help you organise your thoughts and ideas.

The START Formula
The formula is S – T – A – R – T. You will find it a great tool to help you analyse and present the things you have done in a way that highlights your skills and strengths and enables you showcase what you have to offer in a clear and succinct way.

Here's how it works.

Imagine the classic interview question 'So what have you got to offer?' You know the recruiter is looking for a particular set of skills (you have read the job description and person specification carefully, haven't you?) so you decide to focus on one or two and demonstrate them by talking about something you have done where these skills were used.

Just follow the formula like this.

Set the scene.
Give a very brief outline of your situation eg when I was working at..., while I was running x project..., when I was volunteering with...

Describe the task.
Explain what the task was that you were given or it could be a task that you set yourself. Eg I was asked to review our social media strategy..., I realised the order processing system needed a major overhaul..., I volunteered to organise the staff summer social event...

What action did you take?
This is where you flesh out the specific details of what you did (not what the team did – focus on your contribution). This is your chance to show that you are systematic, creative, can cope with pressure and work to deadlines, are good at forging strong client relationships, able to negotiate a good deal etc..

You pick the skills you want to highlight in your description and make sure they are skills which are relevant to the person you are speaking to. It is OK here to mention difficulties you encountered – these could show your ability to be flexible and think on your feet.

What results did you get?
All businesses care about results – that is their bottom line. So talk about how your actions contributed to a positive outcome for the company or organisation. Quantify it if you can eg we had a 10% increase in sales..., my fundraising generated over £2000..., we gained 3 new customers who placed orders worth $15,000..., customer complaints fell to only 2 or 3 a month.

What did the experience teach you?
It is important that you show you are able to monitor your own performance and learn from experience. You don't have to be perfect. It is much better if you can describe what you learned from completing a task and are able to say what you might do differently next time. Even the most successful of projects can benefit from tweaking and adjusting in the light of experience. Show that you are always ready to learn and improve.

Holding the START formula in mind will help you keep focused when talking to recruiters and – dare I say it – sell yourself more effectively. Go on, give it a go!

With best wishes

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