How to avoid a classic mistake super-qualified job seekers make

Friday, August 4th, 2017 - Resume

Get an edge on the

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• The best way to stand out to a potential employer
is to present a cohesive, succinct story about your past work

• But sometimes the more experience you have, the more
information you include, and your message becomes muddled — and
less effective.

• Refine your story by picking a problem that
the employer might be facing, and tailor your
experience to show how you could be the

With years and years of experience, you’ve stacked up many
impressive achievements. You’ve likely held a variety of roles
and responsibilities, and solved diverse sets of problems. And
that means you can market yourself in lots of different ways.

The flipside of that is the more you can share, the more
confusing your message becomes. And the more confusing it
becomes, the less effective it is.

After helping more than 15,000 clients at Career
, we’ve noticed that the biggest mistake experienced professionals make is
presenting an overstuffed, unfocused brand. Long story short:
They squander the opportunity to clearly explain what they’ve

As you move up the ladder, qualifications alone are not enough.
More people have advanced degrees, as well as experience managing
a team and overseeing large budgets. The best way to stand out is
to hone your elevator pitch.

Because that is what’s going to help you stand out among all the
other experienced job seekers who look similar
enough on paper. Here’s how:

Pick the right problem

When you’re going after more senior roles, you need to have a
deep understanding of the pain points the C-Suite team has at your
target company. There are usually one to three problems keeping
them up at night—and you must speak to at least one in order to
be relevant.

Of course, you won’t be able to find the problems the leadership
cares about most in a job description. (No one’s going to want to
advertise their biggest challenges to the world.) The best way to
understand these problems is through conversations with the
market—which means tapping into your network.

Once you have a better idea what the significant issues are, pick
one that has these three qualities:

  • You’d be excited to solve it.
  • You’re confident you would be successful.
  • You know it’s a significant issue the company cannot afford
    to ignore.

Once you’ve done that, develop talking points that are relevant
to the decision-makers and share examples that they’d find

What this looks like

You can use a simple framework to describe what you do in a
succinct and compelling way called the XYZ framework.

That is, I help X [your target audience] do or understand Y
[the problem you solve] so that Z [the outcome they covet

Say you have experience in growing revenue at software companies
and you learn your target company has a specific need for growing
their channel partnerships.

In the above example you would say, “I help software companies
who are at 3-5 million in revenue grow to $20 million by
attracting more channel partnerships that lead to consistent

You might also have experience with managing teams and strategic
planning—and you’ll get to touch on that later in the process. At
this stage jamming everything you know into your pitch is

The goal of this statement is to make it relevant, concrete, and
unique so that you stand out from your competition. This will
make it easy for people to carry your message forward and refer
you to others who may have the problem you solve and lead to more

Then, get out of your own way

Many people resist taking this route. They’re focused on making
sure they list every possible skill on their resume, thinking
it’s better to have more than less.

Here’s the thing: If your message is focused on hitting every
point in a job description, then you’re using the same approach
as your competition. And while this strategy may be the way to go
when you’re starting out, senior-level candidates need to do more
than check the boxes listed.

As Muse Master Coach Jenny Foss explains:

“This is no time to get stuck lingering on the duties and
responsibilities you hold, or have held in prior positions.
(Which, by the way, is the most common error people make in
their resumes—showing only duties and responsibilities.) You
need to show impact. Where did you help the organization make
money, save money, salvage situations, solve problems,
capitalize on opportunities, build something entirely new?”

For the roles you’re applying to, the hiring manager is more
interested in how you’ll add value based on your experience, than
that you list off every thing you’ve ever done. (And if you’re
sold on the idea but struggling with the execution, here are three ways to make your resume tell a

Truth talk: When you refine your message, you’ll rule yourself
out for many roles. But, that’s exactly the point.

You want to position yourself as a solution to a specific set of
problems! If you do that, you’ll land the right role—one that’ll
put you on the path to being successful, happy, and more highly

And what could be better than that?

Read the original article on The Muse. Copyright 2017. Follow The Muse on Twitter.

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