Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Articulating Your Value Proposition

As a follow up to Steve Hernandez’ June 7 blog entry on the challenging job market we are facing, I wanted to add some additional thoughts. It’s very possible that the economy may show real improvement before the end of the year, but there are many signs that any such recovery may be jobless (no net new jobs) or, worse still, unemployment may continue to climb well into the recovery. Regardless of the strength or weakness of the job market in the months ahead, you can best prepare for any eventuality by understanding and being able to articulate your value proposition.

Every one of us brings value to the workplace, some of which is easily identifiable and quantifiable and some of which is more subtle and often difficult to put into measurable terms. Whatever the challenges in articulating our value, it’s vitally important to know how our previous accomplishments, efforts, and hard work translate and bring value to a potential new employer. Our ability to tell appropriate and compelling “added value” stories more often than not will make the difference when in the job search process.

You can articulate your value add by identifying accomplishments and then being able to clearly answer these two questions for each of those accomplishments: “What changed because of my work?” and “What role(s) did I play in bringing this about?” The more fluidly these questions can be addressed and the more “evidentiary” stories you have, the more likely you are to feel confident during times of transition and the more likely you’ll be able to work your way through the “tough” questions in your interviews.

As you develop your stories, you will build the capacity to handle the hard questions with answers like, “I don’t have the exact experience you are asking for, but I have done something very similar . . . and here is how I achieved outstanding results . . . .” These kinds of answers are made even stronger when they demonstrate more than what your interviewer has been asking for. Furthermore, by easily sharing your “transferable” stories, you show that you don’t easily get flustered when facing a challenging situation and that you think well on your feet, both of which are highly valued competencies by employers.

The more you know and can articulate your value proposition, the better your job search will go. All things being equal, it is those who can confidently and smoothly share their value proposition throughout the interview process who will find their search process going more easily and quickly. Let us know if we can help you to prepare for your interviews.

Best wishes.

Mark Guterman

Sunday, June 7, 2009


It looks like we’re still in for a rough employment road here in the Bay Area. I speak to hiring decision makers, employees, and job seekers every day. I still hear a lot of talk about overhead cuts, hiring freezes, redundancy, and lay-offs.

I feel like we’re currently experiencing the transactional stage of the economic downturn. Financially weaker companies are struggling to drive revenue, so they still need to cut more overhead. They also end up being acquisition targets, or may merge with other companies in order to survive. All three of these scenarios lead to a continually tough job market.

Larger companies with cash are looking for acquisition deals. When these transactions occur, inevitability there will be redundancy, and more lay offs. It’s probably going to take awhile for this transactional period to shake out. We’re going to have to hang in there and stick it out.

Though this reality may be difficult for many, looking at it more positively, this type of activity represents a transformation of the Bay Area marketplace. Transactions will create new companies; new products will be invented; new entrepreneurs will take risks, and new jobs will be created.

As we spoke about in previous entries, our local economy will be changing over the next year, whether we like it or not. Companies will fail, be sold, merge, or move; jobs will be eliminated. At the same time, new opportunities will arise. The marketplace for the next decade is under construction. Our job is to hang in there and be ready to role with what new opportunities come our way.

--Steve Hernandez