Thursday, April 7, 2011

Value Proposition revisited

What is the hard part of implementing a “value proposition” approach to job search? 
Really, there are two:  Distilling your skill set to a single succinct sentence and identifying companies to target. 

The one sentence version of your elevator pitch is a terrific exercise under every set of circumstances.  It means you are working through your history with discipline and thought and sorting out the one, two or three highest value skills you have.  It allows, heck, it requires you to state publicly that you can do “xxxx” and that companies will benefit, and “yyyy” is how they will benefit.  This is so very powerful.  Examples:
·         I’ve had the opportunity to transform the market presence of 2 companies I have worked for, increasing their size by more than 30% and profitability by more than 7%
·         I have been able to re-invent a corporate electronic infrastructure, delivering more than 99% uptime at the desktop across 20 locations
·         As a writer whose specialty is making technology accessible and understandable, I’ve been able to deliver documentation that consistently reduces calls to help desks and increases customer satisfaction.
·         As a career coach I help people identify the job of their dreams, then achieve it.
In essence, we can all make a statement similar to the ones above.  Most of us will also talk ourselves out of it.  Honestly, there are some very powerful requirements to it.  Emotionally, we are making a very public bet on our skills and we are consciously committing to this bet.

After we state this value proposition, we will identify, first the kind of company that can benefit from these services and then, the specific companies. 
How do we do that?  There are tool requirements, and there is the requirement of defining who uses your particular skill set.

Technically, we need access to search tools including Google/Bing, but going beyond that.  In King County, Washington, our County Library systems provide free access to some of the very best tools available for researching businesses; Dunn & Bradstreet Million Dollar Database, ReferenceUSA, Value Line, etc.  I posted a tutorial on how to use D&B last August that can lead you through using this one.  The others aren’t much different.  Next writing out criteria to be used is required.  How big?  What industry?  Headquarters?  How many branches?  What kind of ownership?  Do you know the name of one such company? 
Plugging your answers into the search tools provided by these databases is pretty straight forward and will net you some number of possibilities.  Unfortunately, it is probably just the first step in your process.  Remember the goal is between 50 and 100 companies to approach.  What you’ll get from your search is probably too high or too low.  The name of 1 company is a start, but we all remember the cliché about putting all of our eggs in one basket, so it is only a start.  Who does it compete with?  Who does it sell to?  What is it’s “SIC Code”?

Job search is a sales process.  If you’ve read my previous posts, you have probably noticed that assumption woven throughout.  Sales can be “inside” or “outside”.  “Inside” is a description of sales where the salesperson waits for a customer to come in.  Think retail;  Nordstrom’s or Costco.  “Outside” means the salesperson goes out and finds customers; Boeing, IBM, etc. 
In job search, applying for jobs that are advertised is the equivalent of “inside” sales.  For those who have been banging their heads against this particular wall, they know in personal detail how effective it is.  The process being described here takes control of the process and allows the job seeker to be in charge of it.  It’s “outside” sales.  Do a search on “value proposition” and you will see all sorts of posts about how it is core to a business’s chance of success, if you want to understand it in terms of job search, then you are going to need to add “job search” to your search because the relevant web sites will be too buried. 

The business ones are very instructive however.  The process described and the values identified are completely parallel to what goes on in job search and will only help you as you start down this path.
Remember to expect this to be a time consuming process.  Once you have the name of your first company, then your first 3, 10, etc. you have only started.  I’ll cover more of this process in my next post.

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