Fire Up your Job Search by Broadcasting Strengths! Print E-mail
by Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC

Think in Terms of Strengths
Being unemployed, under-employed, or under-appreciated in your current job can erode confidence. In order to “fire up” your job search, you may need to re-assess the strengths you are emphasizing. Follow these simple strategies to shift to a position of strengths.
1)     Brainstorm about what you love to do. This first list should be exhaustive, including strengths from work and personal areas of your life. 
2)     List specific skills developed throughout your work history.
3)     What results did you achieve from strengths listed in the first 2 steps? Review positive comments, good performance evaluations, or actual awards to jog your memory.
4)     Think of job requirements for positions in which you are currently interested, and combine the top 2 or 3 items from each of the areas above that you want to emphasize. Use this information to create an “elevator” speech for yourself – a brief, 30-second to 1-minute summary to describe your assets, not a laundry list, but a mini-story. Consider the director pitching his new movie project to a potential producer, or the inventor describing her idea to a potential investor. This becomes your “pitch”, - a brief overview of strengths that set you apart from the crowd by outlining what you can do for the potential employer.
Write it Down
Why write it down? It helps you own the statement. Not only does seeing the statement in writing help you feel more confident, but it also helps you begin to believe it more strongly yourself. However, if you notice what you have written down actually rings false or makes you question strengths you have identified, then something about what you have written “doesn’t fit”. Stretching yourself to fit a particular job opening can be positive, but stretching the truth is never wise. If you can’t believe it yourself, the hiring manager will struggle, too. Compare your “pitch” with what you created for the first 3 steps above. Pay attention to how you feel in reviewing the lists and you will be able to fine-tune your pitch into an authentic statement of your strengths.
Making a brief statement of your strengths isn’t easy. Practicing the statement will make you feel more comfortable and help you prepare to use it whenever the opportunity arises. 
1)     Use the old “in front of the mirror” technique to help you own your new view of yourself, just like you did in speech class or for that first presentation at the office.
2)     Ask family and friends to serve as an audience – request honest feedback about your delivery – how believable are you? If you don’t believe what you’re saying, it will show. They may notice it even if you didn’t.
3)     Use your network to practice. Perhaps a small group of job seekers – whom you trust – can try out elevator pitches on each other and incorporate comments to improve the approach.
Networking Contact Follow-up
Remember to follow up after any type of networking contact, whether casual or formal. Incorporate your “pitch” into the follow-up correspondence. You can send a “thank-you”, “nice-to-see-you”, or “I believe we have a mutual acquaintance” note – all of which can include a comment about your strengths.
Examples of situations where you might send a follow-up note include:  
1)     Casual contact (“nice to see you”)
2)     Initial Meeting (“nice to meet you”)
3)     Job Fair Follow-up (“I enjoyed learning about your company and how closely my experience aligns with your needs.”)
4)     Introduction from a friend (“I believe we have a mutual acquaintance, Bob Smith, who suggested I contact you as my strengths could benefit your organization.”)
5)     Thank you (for any suggestion of an opportunity) Even though thank you letters may seem old-fashioned, they can be effective for that very reason – they set you apart from the crowd!
You can be sure the competition isn’t shy about broadcasting strengths and achievements, and their boldness could walk them right into your dream job! You have golden embers smoldering in your work history that, if stoked, will “fire up” your job search. Write down those strengths, practice your “pitch”, then confidently broadcast it!