How can you find your personal value proposition?
Identifying your value proposition will help you focus your career objectives and increase your chances of landing a great job.
But personal value propositions often suck. Most people stick them into a predictable “Objective” section on a resume or the “About” section on LinkedIn, with corporate-sounding mumbo-jumbo that’s basically what people assume you’re supposed to put on a resume.
This post will guide you through crafting your personal value proposition, strengthening your offer to the world, and hopefully will help you propel your career forward!
By the way, if you need to write an “About” section, I have a guide for doing that here!
Step 1: Find some exciting job postings and mine keywords
Start here. Do a comprehensive search for job postings. And don’t just pick jobs that “fit” you, pick jobs that excite you! It’s totally fine if they seem a little out of reach even.
Just get a few that speak to you.
Once you find these, copy & paste the text to a word document or print them. Get out your highlighter, and highlight keywords relating to the position.
You can download a PDF sample I did here.
Write these four questions on a piece of paper, and fill in underneath the keywords that fit for each thing.
- Who do I need to be for this job?
- What do I need to do?
- What competencies do I need?
- What experience or qualifications do I need?
(You can see my example on the PDF download)
If you’ve done this exercise, you’ll have a list of keywords and capabilities you can use to define your personal value proposition.
Step 2: Do some inner work to find your career identity
This is about YOU after all. Your personal value proposition should be an expression of yourself.
So despite starting with keywords and job postings, make sure you fit into the equation.
From your list of keywords and job postings, take stock of what you actually want to give to this world.
- What are your unique skills?
- What do you love to do?
- What impact do you want to have?
When you’re developing your value proposition, there are a lot of ways to bring yourself in.
But I’d make sure you start with this.
Why do you want to do the work you do? Why are you great at it?
- I remember the first time I was moved to tears by an ad. I asked myself, how do you do that?
- I was the kid who took things apart and tried to figure out how they worked.
- I’ve always been selling things, starting from my lemonade stand when I was 8.
Each of these are personal statements about a person, but they also give me clues about why they would want to do a certain job.
Step 3: Clarify the problem you solve for employers
The final step, if you’ve read job postings carefully to see what is needed and connected it to your identity and your WHY, is to figure out the problem you solve for an employer.
Every employer has a problem. It’s why they hire people.
The problem is usually one of three things:
- Lack of time: they need something done, it might not require much ability, but they are hiring to save themselves time.
- Lack of expertise/knowledge: they need something done and they don’t know how to do it.
- Lack of capacity: they need something done by a skilled person, and their current staff can’t manage the work.
If you read job postings carefully, you can infer the problem an employer has:
Job Posting 1: We’re looking for a qualified manager to run our Atlantic sales division, overseeing the combined efforts of the sales and marketing team.
What they’re looking for: Knowledge expert and time-saver. Someone who knows sales but who can also oversee the team, taking that managerial responsibility of someone else’s place.
Who they’re looking for: Someone to work with minimal supervision, communicate well and lead two separate teams.
Job Posting 2: We’re looking for an intermediate digital marketing expert to join our team. Reporting to the Marketing Manager, the person will be a team player with a great eye for digital marketing and attention to detail.
What they’re looking for: Someone who fits really well on their team and who can work well with the marketing manager, and someone who’s going to save the marketing manager time! Basically they need more capacity.
Who they’re looking for: Someone who can work well on a team, produce to the specifications they want (obviously professionally looking products).
Job Posting 3: We’re looking for a User Experience manager to oversee the creation of our new personal finance app.
What they’re looking for: An expert! They need someone who can step in and oversee a user experience process, and they may have no idea how to do it. Since the app is a new product, they need someone who can bring outside expertise and management experience and get it done.
Who they’re looking for: Someone with proven UX experience, a record of success, and experience managing people.
Job Posting 4: We’re looking for a junior social media manager to keep our company social media profiles up to date and to upload entries onto a website.
What they’re looking for: a time saver. Someone who will manually input things into social media and their website (maybe with a bit of creativity), and free up time for whoever’s currently doing it.
If you start to pay attention, you’ll see that every job posting has these. Decide what types of problems you solve, and what benefit you’re bringing an employer.
Pro Tip: If you have knowledge/experience that an employer doesn’t have, or are giving them extra capacity in a skill, you will get paid more. The roles that pay the least are almost always time-saving roles.
If you’ve done these steps, you’ve got everything you need for crafting your personal value proposition. Sit down and write it out.
- Why you do what you do
- The types of jobs you’re looking for, key skills and how you meet them.
- The problems you solve for an employer.
If you want to see some examples of personal value propositions, check out this post from The Balance Careers.