Two men walk into a bar.
There’s a sign on the window: Now Hiring.
The one hands in his résumé, saying “Heard you need a bartender. So I came to check if I can fit the bill.”
The other smiles and says, “I’ve been here often in the past few months, and I’ve taken some photos of the area that you are welcome to use for marketing purposes. Also, I brought the ingredients to mix up my signature cocktail for you to try.”
Who do you think has the better chance of getting the job?
Recruiters are tired of going through résumés.
They’re looking for base qualifications like work ethic, ability to learn quickly, critical thinking, empathy, and maybe one or two specific skills related to the specific role they are hiring for.
If you can prove those qualifications in a unique way, you’re a step ahead of every other boring résumé!
In the story above, candidate #2 presented a value proposition. It’s a small but tangible display of what you could bring to a business.
Traditionally, value propositions are considered in terms of companies marketing and selling their products.
It’s worked for selling products. And what are you doing when you’re trying to get a job? You’re selling yourself! So why not use a value proposition to do that?
Besides, selling yourself is one of the top skills you can build early on in your career. Building value props gives you a great way to show that!
How to Build a Value Prop
Now that you know why it’s important to showcase your value instead of just handing in a résumé, here are some applicable steps for building your own:
1. Research the company.
You won’t know how to create value for someone if you haven’t studied their product and company. Check out their website. Sign up for free trials of their products so you can assess the marketing and sales funnel. Find the company on various social media channels. Sign up for their email list.
Think it’s too much work? Think again. Do you really want the job?
No company truly wants employees that don’t know their brand and its mission. They want people that care enough about the work that they’re doing to take some time to get to know them!
2. Think of ways you can create value for the company.
If you were hired tomorrow, what would be the first thing you would do to create value at job? Note that. Build a temporary list of things you can do to improve the company from day 1. Don’t worry about how complicated they are. Actually, the simple things may be the best to start with.
This list will be valuable if and when you potentially get an interview to show you have forward tilt, as well as knowledge about the company. It will also give you a good foundation for value prop ideas.
Remember: no company is perfect. There is always some way you can create value, even if it doesn’t look like it at first glance. If you can’t find anything, go back to the research stage and start over!
3. Pick one way to create value now.
From your list of ways to create value, pick one that you can use to build a project for the company.
It doesn’t have to be big. In fact, a value prop is simply a way to get your foot in the door: it doesn’t have to be elaborate. Here’s what it should be:
- Relevant. It should have something to do with the job you’re trying to get.
- Applicable. The company should be able to use your project without too much work to the team.
- Valuable. Ask yourself: “Does this actually create value for the company?”
- Unique. A value prop should signal “This person would be a creative asset to our business.”
- Timely. You want a value prop that comes just when the hiring team needs that new candidate. Above all, the project should (normally) be something you can ship quickly (as opposed to taking a couple months to finish.)
4. Document the project.
This is the most important part. The documentation is what you’ll email to the company as your value prop. Here are a couple ideas:
- Make a screenshare video explaining your project.
- Write a blog post with screenshots.
- Get creative and make a webpage specifically for your project.
- If it’s tech-related, don’t forget Github!
5. Ship it!
Send the value prop as well as some information about you, relevant links to past work and your website, and a headshot.
Explain quickly why you created the value prop, and invite the recipient to check it out.
Keep this email short. Remember, you don’t want to create something boring for the recruiting team to review! Focus on communicating why you’re passionate for the company and how you can uniquely create value there.
Four Great Value Prop Examples:
Here’s one of my favorite examples of a value prop. Nina is a perfect case proving that researching a company is one of the best things to do if you want to work for them.
Check out the entire value proposition on her website, nina4airbnb.com
I love this value prop because this girl was willing to do something so unique to get her dream job. What do you think: would she have had the same chance at the job if she had simply emailed her résumé to the company?
Even if your value prop is more practical than dressing up as a statue, it can still be creative. Keep in mind, however, that the main goal of this value prop is to get your foot in the door of a company.
The best part? Jake made it possible for the company to use his project even if they didn’t hire him. Now that’s value creation!
Check out Jake’s website here to see more cool projects!
Noah’s value prop shows the unique ability he can bring to the company. Not everyone could build a CRM; Noah is proving that he has a special skill set that will be valuable to Flowhub as they grow!
Side Note: Though this looks complicated, Noah completed the value prop in 1 week. Goes to show that it doesn’t need to take forever to build an awesome project that signals your ability!
Check out Noah’s full portfolio on his website, noahbuscher.com.
What do you have to lose? Résumés are inflated. But creating value never goes out of style.
And if you can prove your value creation potential during the hiring process, you’ll set a foundation for unprecedented growth in your career and at the company you work for!
Now go break that mold!