Careerists seeking to invest career capital into the next opportunity and / or breakthrough role have a primary goal – communicate fit between their value proposition and the hiring decision maker’s needs.
Fulfilling the requirements of the audience, however, often delves deeper than meets the eye. In fact, Chris Westfall’s recent article, “Your Pitch Isn’t Working, and You Know It,” provides excellent insights.
While the focus is entrepreneurs pitching investors for funding, the concept also applies to job seekers pitching hiring managers to invest in them.
Overcoming Audience Objections
Courting your next career opportunity is not only about matching your specific experience and training to companies’ requests for precise (and often over-the-top) expectations for experience or training. It also is about overcoming audience objections.
For example, in job search, a hurdle may be your lack of specific work experience or deficit in a particular industry. Perhaps, the perception is you are too young for an industry where the average age is decades more than your last birthday number. Or, you are too old in a millennial-dominated workplace.
Maybe you are male, but the bias is for a female in the role, or vice versa.
Maybe even, you are pitching a qualification that, while meeting basic criteria, isn’t exceptional, and will be mingled among other similarly qualified candidates in an already saturated marketplace. In other words, what you offer is not unique and will not outperform the competitors.
How to Pitch the Target Audience
What I particularly liked about Westfall’s advice regarding ‘how to pitch’ the target audience (and overcome objections) was his drill-down and case study. The how that he described largely involved establishing a connection with the hiring decision maker (in the case of his article, the ‘investor’), in a way that captivated, openly addressing what the audience was thinking (that ‘this will never work’) and then laying out a solution.
The solution Westfall suggested melded authenticity, relevance, inspiration and tact to get to the ‘yes.’ In other words, the conversational and relationship-building finesse underpinning the pitch guided the listener through to personal connection and ultimately, wanting to know more.
In resume writing, cover letter writing, and other on- and offline portfolio communications, the career candidate can cultivate the relationship through nuanced stories, breaking down perceived barriers. For example, a younger candidate seeking a breakthrough role in the financial consultant industry, where maturity and experience are prized, might squarely address the obstacle by saying:
Met challenge head-on and out-of-the-gate, overcoming disadvantage of youth in an industry where clients favor age and experience. Concertedly identified personal value to clients, painting a persuasive sales picture, and situating self as trusted source acting in clients’ best interests.
This same candidate must then back up this assertion with measurable results in achieving bottom-line objectives, further validating his triumphs and abilities surmounting the age obstacle that is at the forefront of the hiring manager’s mind.
As Westfall said, “The most powerful pitch starts with what your listener is thinking.”
So, if you want to increase the odds of a positive job-search outcome, take some time to really read your story through the lens of the person who will hire you.
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