Posted By Amanda Collins on December 16, 2010
I’ve been doing a lot of presentations lately on résumé writing—to high-school students and returning service members—and one of the key components I always discuss is the ever-important summary. As I explain it, the summary should answer the question, “Why should I hire you?” By doing that, the résumé clearly shares the applicant’s value proposition. The truth of the matter is that 90% of the clients I see don’t have a solid answer to this question.
Typically, I receive one of three responses when I ask my clients the “Why should I hire you?” question: a deer-in-headlights look, something like “I’m nice and show up to work on time,” or a great, on-target answer. Unfortunately, the last option is in the minority. As I tell clients, everyone will say they’re dependable and a team player; those traits are practically expected. But what if you can share your unique abilities as they relate to the position?
At some point, I’ll need to start recording my feedback on this question because, after I’ve crafted a verbal response to this question (more for the interview than the résumé), I’m often asked, “Can you write that down for me?” Sure, I’ll definitely be using a version of that for the summary, but an oral response is a bit different from the written version.
Here’s the formula I share with my clients to give a spot-on answer to the “Why should I hire you?” question during the interview:
- Sum up what they’re looking for. Typically, the question comes at the end of the interview, meaning you’ve had an opportunity to ask the employer what they’re seeking in the position. Go back and say something like, “During our time together, I heard you say you’re looking for a person who can provide A, B, and C.”
- Position yourself as the solution. Once you’ve given an outline of what the company is seeking, color in the lines with your unique experiences. “While I was in my last position, I was promoted twice because of my talents implementing A, B, and C.”
- Punch it up with some accomplishments. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather hire a person who has a history of creating results than someone who just “phones it in.” Highlight a couple of accomplishments that relate to what they’re seeking. “As a matter of fact, while I was in that position, I increased profit margins 22% following in-depth market research and updating our product line.”
It’s always been my approach as a writer to educate my clients. The above formula can really help job seekers to get a handle on the résumé and interview approach while infusing some immediate self-confidence as I illustrate their best qualities. We both leave the conversation feeling great, and I send them on their way to land that job!