What’s Your Value Proposition?

According to Wikipedia, here is the definition of a value proposition: A value proposition is a promise of value to be delivered and a belief from the customer that value will be experienced. A value proposition can apply to an entire organization, or parts thereof, or customer accounts, or products or services. However, you might not be aware that you, too, need a value proposition when you are planning a job search or fine-tuning your career management. You might not be selling a product or service as such, but in a sense YOU are the product, and the customer (prospective employer) needs to develop a belief that he/she can actually experience the value you have to offer.

Your Unique Personal Value Proposition

As the saying goes, “There’s nothing new under the sun.” When the idea for this blog topic came to me, I thought, “I’ll bet other people have already written about it in relation to job searching or career management.” Sure enough, I came across an article by Bill Barnett published in the Harvard Business Review Blog in 2011, titled “Build Your Personal Value Proposition.” In his article, Barnett sets out four steps to creating your own value proposition:

  1. Set a clear target. The PVP begins with a target, one that needs what you have to offer. You’ll prefer some directions, not others.
  2. Identify your strengths.
  3. Tie your strengths to your target position. Don’t leave it up to the employer to figure out how your strengths relate to what she needs.
  4. Provide evidence and success stories.

I would add to this the comment that your goal is not only to develop your personal value proposition but also to distinguish yourself from your competition. If, on the face of it, you do essentially the same job that many other people do and your resume (or other marketing documents) doesn’t distinguish your value from theirs, you’re missing the mark. For instance, the CEO of Apple Computer and the CEO of Chevron might do many of the same things as leaders of their respective corporations, but you can bet they’re far from being mirror images of each other. By the same token, the CEO of a boutique PR firm would perform differently and bring different value to his/her role than either of them.

Building Blocks of your Value Proposition

Barnett’s article provides some clear ideas about how to develop your value proposition. It’s up to you, of course, to pull together the building blocks of that value proposition and make it both believable and compelling to readers (employers). As an example, if you pulled off a feat that was the corporate equivalent of walking on water, you need to find a way of presenting your accomplishment that won’t make readers say, “Oh, yeah? In your dreams!” More than likely, you had help somewhere along the way–you might have built, motivated and guided the hard-working team that carried out your vision and turned it into reality, earning you the title of “miracle worker.” In your recounting of that success story, then, you want to be sure you give full credit to your team for their contribution.

Actually, your ability to inspire the record-setting achievements of others might turn out to be a core element of your value proposition, especially if the people you inspired weren’t performing at nearly such a stellar level before your arrival on the scene.

Why would employers hire you instead of other well-qualified candidates? When you finish identifying your building blocks and assembling them effectively into your unique value proposition, you’ll have a pretty good answer to that very important question.

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