So many people think ‘sales’ is a dirty word. It shocks me really. There are so many negative associations with sales and even a sales person that tend to make people think to themselves, “I could never do that,” or “that’s just not me”.
I’m here to refute just that. People don’t realize all the different points in their lives when they’re actually relying on sales to succeed in life. Truth is, much of what you want to be successful in requires some aspect of selling yourself. Want to borrow the car on Friday night? You need to sell yourself to your parents. Want to ask someone out on a date? You need to sell yourself well enough for the person to say yes. Want your dream job? You need to sell yourself to the potential employer.
Let’s use the job application process as an example. Every time you apply for a job, you’re selling yourself to your potential employer – plain and simple. In fact, think about the function of the cover letter. You’ve got to convince the employer why you’re the right person for the job, why you should get an interview, why you deserve that job—and you’ve got one page to do it. And yet, many people are just so terrible at this.
As CEO of Herjavec Group, I’ve noticed a staggering amount of bad cover letters – ones that make me think, “Really?” If you’re wondering how to make your job application stronger, the answer is simple: channel your inner Don Draper. Yes, I’m talking about the infamous advertising genius from Mad Men. If there’s one thing Don Draper knew how to do, it was how to sell—not only his client’s products but himself—in a creative and clever manner. So how do you apply the advertising approach to you next job application? There are five simple steps.
Step 1: Your target audience
The first question to ask yourself is who you’re targeting in your job application to—find out who’s hiring for the position and make your application specific. Next, do your research. This is an extra step but it can ensure that you will stand out from the crowd. Research the company you’re applying for – be knowledgeable on what they do! If you want them to take an interest in you, you need to take an interest in them—simple as that.
Step 2: Your unique selling proposition (USP)
The USP is any feature that a product has that the competition doesn’t. What’s your USP? What can you bring to the job that other applicants can’t match? More importantly, you should be able to relate your USP to the company you’re applying for. Are they looking for someone who’s dedicated, up for a challenge, and quick to adapt? Include that you were a nationally-ranked basketball player in college. Remember, you need to stand out from the crowd—you’re not just “another can of peas on the shelf”, as Don Draper would say.
Step 3: Your takeaway
The takeaway message is what the employer will remember about your application. This can be a piece of information but more likely, it will be an impression about you—so make it good and keep it focused for the position you’re applying to.
Step 4: Your call-to-action
The most used call-to-action in a cover letter is too basic: “I look forward to hearing from you soon”. How boring! Instead, take it a step further by saying, “I look forward to meeting you in person to express my enthusiasm about joining your team”. A call-to-action like that shows you’re confident and assertive, not arrogant and aggressive.
Step 5: Your promise to the employer
You need to make sure that your public image falls in line with the promises you’re making about your character and your ethics to your employer. Since you’re putting your best foot forward in the application, make sure your social media profiles reflect the image you’ve created in your employer’s mind. Remember, they have (goog) Google too.
Of course, these tips aren’t just for job seekers. They’re for everyone. If you’re trying to get the car from your parents (your target audience), your best USP is that you’re a reliable teenager who makes good choices. If they believe the message, you’ll get the car. But one bad picture on social media can change that verdict.
Robert Herjavec is CEO of the Herjavec Group. His new book “You Don’t Have to Be A Shark” comes out in May 2016.