Your Smarts Get You Grades… Your Value Gets You Hired

Rebecca Rapple contributed Part Four of our “Back to School Special” blog series. She provides you with insight into the difference in your skill sets required to get grades in school, and what it takes to get hired in the Real World. Enjoy!

When I graduated, I didn’t really understand what employers wanted – which made it much harder for me to get hired. So, today, I’d like to give you a short cut!

For our entire lives as students, our goals are to be smart, engaged and follow the rules. In college, our goals include good grades, extracurricular involvement and the ability to write like a student – with big words and complex sentences. Our goal is to prove our intelligence. This is all great… for a student.

But, these skills are not what employers want!

So, as we transition into our careers (and getting hired!) we need a mindset shift – from displayed intelligence to perceived value. Yes, employers want value from their employees – not “smarts”. They want to understand how each and every employee will impact the top line (the money coming into the company) and the bottom line (the money going out of the company).

As a job seeker, it’s your responsibility to show how you – unique, interesting, intelligent, amazing you – will bring value differently from every other candidate. That’s no small order.

But, if we break this down into small steps, it becomes much more manageable! So, here are six actions you can take to hone in on your value, the key to getting hired.

Stop Thinking About You!

Getting hired isn’t about you. It’s about the employer. So, stop thinking about you and what you want, and start thinking about the employer and what they want, from you.

Figure Out What the Company Really Wants

Return to the job application and create a profile of their likely ideal candidate. Who are they? What are they like? What do they know? Write down your assessment – even if you aren’t sure of all of your points.

Confirm What You Really Offer

Self-reflection is an immensely important part of the job search. Deeply consider your strengths (try the free VIA survey of character strengths), the skills you have learned and which activities are easy for you. Enlist a trusted friend or mentor in the reflection.

Write a Super Hero Story!

Now that you have a good idea what the company wants and who you are, its time to identify the value that you bring to this employer! Especially as you are starting out, its okay if most of your value comes from characteristics rather than skills. But, you have to identify which of your skills and personality traits to highlight. Here are a few Super Hero Stories to give you an idea…

  • Compassionate, personable and competitive, I will increase customer satisfaction and drive to exceed business development goals. (Call Center Employee)
  • I will increase participation in focus groups with my energetic and approachable nature. (Market Research Recruiter)
  • Meticulous and punctual, I will make your life easier through organization. (Personal Assistant)

Develop the Story

You need more than one line to get a job. In fact, you need a whole application process that tells the story! So, use your Super Hero Story as a lens for everything that you do as a part of your application! There are always ways to reframe your history that align it with your value. And, quantify anything that you can! In the business world, numbers speak louder than, well, anything – so whenever possible, quantify your achievements!

Now… Shout your Super Hero Story from the Rooftops!

Your Super Hero Story is the backbone of your entire application. Use a condensed version as your email subject line. Use a 1-2 sentence version to open your resume (bold and center at the top!) and then use your resume to detail the story. Heck, even your thank you notes should include your Super Hero Story!

By shifting your focus from you and your intelligence – everything you’ve always been taught to focus on – to the employer and the value that you will deliver to them, you will exponentially increase your likelihood of getting hired!

So go get out there – and tell employers all about the unique value you’ll bring to their organization!

We hope you enjoyed the fourth installment of our “Back to School Special” series. Be sure to take a look at Part 1, an infographic that shows how to “Get a Job at Graduation: A Career Plan for College Students“, Part 2 “How to Buy and Sell your Textbooks Without Going Broke“, Part 3Real World 101: 7 Steps for a Seamless Transition to Career“.


About the Author: Rebecca Rapple is the founder of The Resume Revolution – your toolbox of innovative strategies for the job hunt. If you want lots of awesome tips, including 3 pages on writing your Super Hero Story, check out her FREE 21-page Guide to Getting Hired, its awesome!

This entry was posted in Cover Letter, Job Search, Resumes and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.