Earlier this year, I attended a recruiting conference in New York. During my flight there, I chatted casually with the woman sitting next to me.
We talked about travel, where we’re from and what we do for a living. We got to know each other a bit.
When it was time for me to share what I do for a living, my short answer – I’m a co-founder of a company that helps job seekers articulate their value to employers – inspired, as it typically does, the million-dollar question – what exactly are the steps to figuring out one’s personal value proposition?
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What Is A Personal Value Proposition?
I decided to demonstrate to my new flight mate how she can articulate her personal value proposition by drawing her attention to our current airline of choice.
We were both on a Qantas aircraft. Why did we each choose Qantas over the other airline brands? Was it the:
- Strong safety record?
- Decent frequent flyer rewards program? (Yep, not what it used to be).
- Abundance of entertainment in each seat?
- Food that you might actually want to eat?
- Upbeat, smiling staff?
My new friend concluded that all these features are why we both flew Qantas. I agreed.
(Related: Best Carry-On Luggage For Business Travellers.)
With One Big Caveat.
A brand’s value proposition, I explained, is more than just a collection of features.
In the end, most of the world’s top airlines have professional staff, high levels of safety, etc. These features form the baseline expected level of competence that business travellers expect.
What sets a brand apart from the rest is the unique point of difference it delivers to a clearly defined niche of customers.
The distinct feeling it imparts. The reputation that exists around it.
What if, I posited, we both chose Qantas because we felt that our needs would be taken care of, even if something didn’t go according to plan?
For me personally, this is Qantas’ unique point of difference.
I fly Qantas because I’ve repeatedly seen them take care of difficult situations, in a way that exceeded expectations – and often pre-emptively – with a level of professionalism that has left a strong impression.
(Related: 10 Best Qantas Frequent Flyer Cards).
Example Of A Value Proposition In Action.
For example, when flights to New York were cancelled a few months ago due to a blizzard in the United States, I watched Qantas staff jump on the situation with the precision of a Formula 1 racing team.
Hotels were organised, refunds were offered, and alternative flight options were provided.
Importantly, not just the immediate problem was solved; the peripheral problems were solved, too.
The ground crews in LA knew exactly what happened and picked up where the crews in Sydney left off. I didn’t have to explain my situation to a disinterested American Airlines employee in LA.
For someone like me – an impatient entrepreneur with a strong streak of disdain for bureaucracy – having people like this “in my corner” is a godsend.
Other flyers may prefer the hip crews of Virgin, but I’m staying with Qantas because I want my airline to know how to solve problems, not be hip.
(Related: How To Deal With A Toxic Boss).
How To Develop Your Personal Value Proposition.
I share this story because the experiential, feeling element of a brand’s value proposition is really easy to forget. It’s easy to focus on the features, and forget how these stack up to create a unique brand experience.
You, as a brand, also have features: you may have strong leadership skills, an MBA, a healthy amount of experience in the finance sector, etc.
The issue is, a lot of other candidates in the job markets have these features, too. Remember the baseline expected level of competence I mentioned earlier?
(Related: Complete Guide To Setting Career Goals).
To win great job offers, you need to go deeper. What is unique about you? How do your features stack up in a way that makes you different? In other words, what is your personal value proposition statement?
Enter the Golden Triangle: that sweet spot where your unique skills, experiences and competencies and personality meet a market need, and – this part is crucial – it’s something you enjoy and are engaged in:
Here are some questions you should ask yourself to help you uncover facets of your Golden Triangle.
What Does The Market Need?
- What key challenges do your industry and function face today, and how will that change over the mid- to long-term?
- What specific needs are employers and clients hiring experts to solve?
- What skills and competencies are needed in the market right now?
- What characteristics and personality traits are valued in your industry or function?
What Do You Have To Offer?
- What specifically about your personality, qualifications, skills and experiences positions you to solve the challenges and needs you identified above?
- What impact can you deliver that’s different from your peers and competitors?
- Why should a business hire you over someone with similar experience and qualifications?
What Motivates You?
- Why do you do what you do?
- What gets you out of bed in the morning?
- Of the challenges and problems you identified and can solve, which are you most excited about?
- What’s your professional motto or mantra?
(Related: When To Accept A Counter Offer).
Finalise Your Personal Value Proposition Statement.
Once you’re confident with your Golden Triangle answers, write a 1- or 2-sentence personal brand statement that communicates what market problem you solve, how you do it better than anyone else, and why.
This will help you land the job you want.
If you can’t summarise what makes you uniquely qualified in more than a sentence or two, keep working at it, as this really is the foundation of an effective resume, a captivating LinkedIn profile, a personal website or the ability to sell yourself during job interviews.
Without a unique value proposition, you will not be able to compete effectively in the job marketplace.
Bonus tip: be patient. When clients enquire about resume writing services, they’re often surprised by how much one-on-one time we spend with them: learning about the nuances of each role, the market and industry dynamics present at the time, probing to understand their personality; defining the principles and values that matter to them; figuring out what gets them out of bed each morning.
These are all things we need to know if we’re going to shape a strong, relevant personal value proposition statement, and it’s no different if you’re going through the process on your own.