“Can we speak later? I have a big interview next week and I have some thoughts that I want to run by you.”
My response was that I would be more than glad to hear what is on her mind. When we spoke later that afternoon, she told me about the value that she wanted to bring to the interview. She wanted to leave behind a career portfolio of some of her work.
The amazing part about this story is not that her background was not creative, which is a staple of any interview. It was the fact that she is just 23 years old, only three years out of college, successful in both jobs so far, and about to land that coveted position that she has dreamed of.
Yes, that’s right — a Gen Y-er talking about value.
Like a lot of you, I mentor a lot of this generation. Sometimes when I get in at night, I have two or three calls to follow up on, and I find that I’m left with an interesting perspective from this generation on work, career, and life. We could all learn a lot if we opened up.
In many organizations, there has been a lot of time spent on crafting an Employee Value Proposition, or EVP. I know of companies that have brought in high-priced consultants to facilitative this process, all in the hope of developing a statement that shows the value that the organization places on its people.
Everyone has to show their value
My question is this: what value do you bring to the table? Are you showing value in your current role? Better still, if you are job hunting how are you showing value during those interview? Showing up for an interview and answering a few questions does not bring value.
What is your value statement? If you were asked during an interview what your value statement was, what would be your reply?
If you are already in the organization, what value are you bringing to your role? If you are ensconced in HR, what value do you bring to your customers? Yes HR — everything outside your door is your customer.
I ended the conversation with this amazing young lady and thought to myself, “she gets it. One day she will rise to whatever in life that she is striving for.”
We all like to believe that we are important and valuable, but have you ever thought about how to measure that usefulness? Today you must demonstrate your worth regardless of how you feel about it. If you are in job search mode, what value will you bring to this role?
You must bring it alive.
The person that gets the job showed or demonstrated more perceived value. A resume is not enough. Yes, we all know that the paper shows skills, education, and everything else, but the rest is up to you.
Think of a PowerPoint presentation as a metaphor for this; could you just mail the presentation in instead of presenting it in person? Absolutely not! You must bring it alive. If you are arriving at that interview with just a copy of your resume, you must be one powerful presenter to take it to the next level. Answering a few questions is not going to allow you to take it to the next level.
Where is your career portfolio?
- Projects or campaigns — What can you share about projects that you worked on that were successful? Give a short presentation of the scope of the project and your role within it. If you can share documentation, by all means do so.
- Promotions or increased responsibility — Did you just receive a promotion or increased responsibility? This young lady I was talking to was just told the week before that since one of her colleagues would be leaving, she would now be working more closely with the CEO on his presentations. She said that the CEO was pleased with this arrangement and told her manager that he enjoys working with her. That is the definition of value added.
- Awards, special mentions or accolades — All three of these says a lot about the type person you are and the quality of work you perform. Make copies to keep in this portfolio. Should you to use them each time? That will depend on the circumstances and the job. No matter how trivial they may seem at the time, they go a long way in demonstrating your work ethic and how well you are perceived as valuable.
- Community and professional involvement — This shows that it is not all about you. Employers and recruiters appreciate professionals who take part in volunteer organizations or professional associations. If your prospective target is big on volunteering, this narrative should be weaved into the conversation with them.
I have also been a big fan of a nice folder that is left behind which chronicles this career map — nice paper, nice folder, the works.
After a recruiter has interviewed candidates, leaving something like this behind — if done properly — can be the game breaker. Think of it as your career kit.
For people that are already gainfully employed, the same goes for you. Think of your career portfolio and how you can enhance yours. Always keep it updated. This packet could just end up being the ticket to get you to the next level.