As an early career candidate seeking your first “professional” job opportunity, it’s not enough to rely on performing the basic steps of a typical hiring process well to land the offer. You don’t have years of experience to give a company confidence in your ability to deliver results. You have to sell them on your upside potential!
1. Express interest in the company.
This is the most often overlooked aspect of selling a company on yourself. Especially for early career candidates.
Communicating genuine excitement about what a company is building — including their product, customers, culture, and vision — is mandatory to give yourself the best chance of winning the opportunity.
This is both easy and difficult. It’s easy because for any growing enterprise, you should be able to find plenty to be genuinely excited about! They are creating real value for real people.
Someone with an optimistic outlook should be able to find a few things that get them fired up about any company be it a startup that’s working on cutting-edge technology or your local mom and pop shop. It’s difficult because these things are always obvious to identify. You have to put in the work to think deeply, research, and ask good questions to find the answers.
It’s easy to keep disinterest as a back pocket excuse in case you don’t get the job, but going all in on the company before you know if they’ll make an offer is the only way to give yourself a chance at actually getting the offer.
2. Understand company and role context.
Once you communicate that you’re into them, now you need to show them that you understand where they need value created within the company.
The first step to this is having a basic understanding of how the company delivers value to their customers and generates revenue. A few good questions to ask yourself to get started are:
- Who are Company X’s target customers?
- What problem are they solving for that customer?
- How do they aim to solve it?
Once you have developed good answers to these questions through critical thinking and research (company website is ideal place to start, but don’t stop there!) then bring it back to the specific role you’re looking to fill.
- How does this role help Company X serve their target customer?
- How is this role currently performed and what are the essential skills needed?
- Are there ways this role could actually be more valuable to the company?
There countless more questions to be asking but these six are the easiest way to get started. Taking this approach will give you a huge advantage over other candidates. Companies are all too used to interviewing candidates with a me-first attitude to landing a job.
Ask not what the company can do for you, ask what you can do for the company.
3. Prove it!
It’s not enough to just know this stuff, you have to start working for the company beforehand in order to get the job. Don’t just focus on telling the company how great their lives will be if they decide to hire you, give them a sneak peek.
Take everything you’ve learned about the company’s customers, product, culture, and vision and create a value proposition as part of your hiring process.
Here’s how to build a value proposition:
By proving you have interest in the company, and that you are serious about the role you’re pursuing, you’ll set yourself apart from every other candidate who simply chooses to rely on a resume.