How to Sell Yourself to Your Future Employer

Unlock new value on your resume


The biggest reason generic resumes aren't effective is that every company is in the market for a different version of you. Ultimately the "you" that Company A wants to buy (e.g.: "employ) is different from the you that Company B is in the market to hire. No matter how similar you think two job descriptions are, their requirements will always vary by at least a few degrees whether spelled-out in writing or not.

This truth is key to understanding why submitting generic resumes doesn't work. Resumes, as the individuals they represent, must be tailored for the unique role that you want.

Here's a little secret. Employers don't actually care about most of the stuff on your resume. What they're primarily interested in is how your experience translates into the key performances that you will be judged by while on the job.  The interview is an opportunity to substantiate the claims you made on your resume with anecdotes, likability and your own personal x-factor.

Perhaps even more importantly, hiring personnel are interested in the performances that will result in greater success for them and their career. Always keep that in mind when preparing for your interview. 

It still boggles my mind that people submit generic resumes after generic resume in the grim hope of being acknowledged as a unique snowflake when their resume makes them appear like everybody else. The closer your resume reflects the actual needs of the job opening, the better chance you have of coming out as a top candidate, landing an interview and getting the job. Making the extra effort to ensure that your resume reflects the oft-unarticulated, true needs of the company goes a long way toward securing that end.

You might have noticed that job titles are fairly generic across industries but, in practice, the specific duties involved do not matriculate well from one industry to the next. For example, the duties required of a Vice President of Marketing in the manufacturing business are often quite different from the duties that constitute success for his counterpart in high-tech. As you can see, while on paper there might be a direct translation between one job and another, the reality is that these jobs are worlds apart.

Job descriptions may reveal a job's requirements in higher resolution than an official title, but they also leave more to interpretation. I'm sure you've noticed how job descriptions often resemble but don't truly reflect the duties involved. In many cases, the true job criteria are intuitively grasped but not officially recognized by the company. In far too many cases, they aren't even sufficiently articulated to attract the right applicants. Additionally, companies vary wildly in their ability to isolate the key performance metrics of the roles they have available. It's within this well of abstraction that you'll find an endless fount of material for positioning yourself.

I'd even go one step further and say that new hires can get rewarded later on down the road for their ability to help an employer scope out and craft better job descriptions. If your employer is poor at scoping out work or writing job descriptions, there's a terrific opportunity for you!

To bring order to ambiguity, I came up with the following framework in 2010 while standing in line at the DMV – you know, the line to get in the line – in the midst of my "career transition." I have discovered that putting my thoughts down on paper lends me tremendous security in my decisions and I figure there are other people out there who can apply this framework to give themselves an enormous advantage in their job search. I believe that anybody can run their resume through this simple framework in order to multiply its effectiveness. Get ready to deliver a payload of massive value in your resume-writing, with laser-guided certainty.

Three-Step Process to Tailor Your Resume

  1. First, figure out by which criteria you will be judged to have superior performance while on the job. If you don't know, do the research to find out. Some hiring criteria may be identified from the job ad but if you can tap into any of the following sources of intel, by all means, do so: friends, existing employees, former employees, customers, colleagues of the hiring person, media personalities, anybody with the inside scoop.

  2. Second, ask yourself "what specific facts/figures/anecdotes from my own experience would demonstrate these performances?" Jot those down and incorporate these into your resume. Reserve some material for your interviews.

  3. Third, in your interview, relate your specific performances back to the organizations goals–both it's articulated and unarticulated goals. This adds weight and dimension to your claims and magnifies the perceivable benefits of hiring you.

Job Performances Index for Individuals Seeking Employment

First, review the Job Performances Index below for items that could map to the job being applied. Select a few to focus on which are either prerequisite for the job or differentiating for you. Each one of these is a potential force-multiplier for establishing superior value as a candidate.

Next, emphasize those performances within your resume or throughout the application process to make yourself into the most suitable candidate. Do this right and you just mind land that coveted role at the company of your dreams.

It must be noted that these job performances exist in every industry, but may be combined and emphasized in varying amounts depending on the company that you're applying to and the industry it's in. 

  1. Your thought leadership reputation and recognition in the industry

  2. Your ideological fit or resonance (ideals/philosophy/worldview)

  3. Your command of a specialized language

  4. Your understanding of the trends

  5. Your ability or track record foretelling the future of your industry

  6. Your ability to build relationships with influencers

  7. The quality and/or breadth of your professional network (Relevent)

  8. Your overall facility at sales

  9. Your intellectual rigor

  10. Your attention to detail

  11. Your ability to document your work for future reference

  12. Your ability to come up with creative solutions

  13. Your raw productivity or output

  14. Your attitude, disposition or positive mindset

  15. Your depth of knowledge

  16. Your breadth of knowledge

  17. Your availability

  18. Your proximity to the job

  19. Your readiness to relocate

  20. Your tolerance for being moved around

  21. Your ability to present to customers

  22. Your ability to generate consensus

  23. Your effectiveness at presenting to decision makers

  24. Your ability to manage your direct reports

  25. Your ability to coordinate with outside agencies

  26. Your ability to manage overhead

  27. Your ability to maximize a departmental budget

  28. Your diligence following protocol or procedure or abiding by regulations

  29. Possession of special clearances