Contributed by Chi Whitley
When searching for a job, competition is at an all-time high. More people are entering the workforce now than ever before. The way to stand out above others is to identify areas where you surpass the competition. You want to ensure that you can effectively speak about yourself to your potential employers. This technique is called self-advocacy and is in some ways creating a brand for yourself.
Think about it as if you are the product and your hiring managers are the consumers. You have to find an effective way to market yourself as a great fit for the position. It’s no surprise that this is easier said than done. Talking about ourselves is difficult! Most people tend to feel uncomfortable by doing so, as they don’t want to come off as arrogant or self-centered.
Below, we cover the ins and outs of self-advocacy, along with some tips to help sell yourself in the job search.
Table of Contents
- Portraying Yourself With a Resume
- Your Social Media Presence and Brand
- Your References and Networking Relationships
- How You Conduct Yourself in an Interview
- Avoid Selling Yourself Short
- Address Things Not Mentioned in Your Resume
- Shed Light on Where You Fall Short From the Competition
- Know What You Want
- Identify Your Strengths
- Understand How to Compromise
- Share Your Opinions and Ideas
- Get Into the Habit of Asking for Help
- Practice Saying No
What is Self-Advocacy?
Self-advocacy is another word for talking about yourself and marketing yourself to others. You adapt this technique to show how much you’re worth to potential employers. Knowing how to talk about yourself effectively can make all the difference when applying for a job. It will help you learn how to angle your advantages and make positives out of your negative features.
Self-advocacy is important at every stage of the hiring process. Candidates who fail to pass the screening stage in the hiring process tend to not fully understand how to properly sell themselves. Their journey to the position is then cut short, as they often do not make it to the interview stage. Job searching aside, self-advocacy is an important skill to have in your toolbox. It can help you thrive in your various relationships with other people in your life.
Where Can You Advocate for Yourself in the Job Hunt?
Portraying Yourself With a Resume
Your resume is likely the first impression you will make on an employer. After you draft your resume content, take the time to create an eye-catching design.
A strong design can set you apart from other candidates, especially in a competitive market. You can use a resume builder to quickly put together a resume with design flair. Alternatively, you can work from a finished resume template tailored for your profession. Some resume builders even offer expert resume guidance and coaching to help you craft the perfect resume.
Your resume is what typically gets you to the next step of the interview process in the first place. Resumes act as a way for hiring managers to prescreen potential candidates. Your resume is where you can begin to showcase your unique skills and qualifications that make you a great candidate for the position. Passing this stage often means you meet at least the bare minimum requirements and that the company sees some potential in you as a candidate.
Your Social Media Presence and Brand
The next step employers may take after looking at your resume is diving deep into your social media. They do so because it gives them insight into the person behind the piece of paper and a list of qualifications. Your social media platforms showcase your brand and are often the first real-time impression employers have of you.
You’ve likely often heard others stress the importance of upholding a good image on social media. Social media is a fun way for individuals to stay connected and share their lives. In another approach, it’s become more of a way for hiring managers to get the inside scoop on your values and what you enjoy doing in your free time.
Research shows that 70% of employers look at their applicants’ social media profiles during the hiring process. Going a step further, 54% of employers choose not to hire a candidate based on their social media content. It only takes one inappropriate post to deem you an unfit applicant for the position. As a general rule of thumb, don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your grandma seeing down the line. Chances are your employers won’t want to see it either.
Your References and Networking Relationships
Hiring managers will also reach out to your references throughout the selection process. This is why many people stress how important networking is in today’s job culture. Employers want to gain an idea of how your work ethic is and how you will perform for them. They may contact your previous employers or co-workers that you list on your reference list and application.
There’s a lot of truth in the idea that doors begin to open for you based on who you know. We live in a world where technology connects us more than ever, so it’s important to use that to your advantage. Making connections with others can help you find people who will advocate for you and even help you find open positions.
How You Conduct Yourself in an Interview
The last step left is the interview. This is typically where employers make their final decision on whether you will work for them or not. In an interview, the ball is more in your court than it has been in any other stage of the hiring process. You have the opportunity to truly sell and advocate for yourself and your capabilities.
It’s important to make a good impression and know how to communicate effectively. The way you conduct yourself truly does make all the difference. You’ll want to learn how to pinpoint areas where you crush the competition and bring positives to the areas in which you fall short.
Tips on How to Advocate and Sell Yourself In An Interview
The interview is where hiring managers will have their very first real-time experience with you. It’s very important to make a good and long-lasting first impression. The following tips will help you effectively self-advocate during an interview:
Avoid Selling Yourself Short
People tend to go into an interview with a lack of confidence and feeling nervous. Feeling nervous is normal, but don’t let it get in the way of your ability to talk well about yourself. Instead, you’ll want to answer each question with poise and expertise. This will help you appear professional and stand apart from other candidates. If you still find yourself feeling nervous, try some breathing techniques before going into the interview.
Address Things Not Mentioned in Your Resume
You may have some qualifications and experiences that aren’t mentioned in your application or resume. The interview is the time where you can bring those things to light. Think about any experiences you may have had that can relate to the position in advance.
You can get creative with your experiences, as they do not need to be just previous work experience. For example, a group project in college or volunteer experience may relate very closely to what is expected out of you from the company. This can help distinguish you from other candidates in the pool.
Shed Light on Where You Fall Short From the Competition
It’s unlikely you will excel in every area that your potential employer will ask of you. This isn’t something you should stress over. We’re human beings, not robots. However, the way you approach and mention your shortcomings is very important. Prepare yourself ahead of time to address where you fall short in a positive manner.
Tips on How to Advocate and Sell Yourself When Negotiating
Selling yourself is also important when it comes to negotiating terms. People typically don’t like negotiating once offered the position because they don’t want to hurt their chances of getting hired. However, you may not feel happy with your employer’s initial wage and benefits offered.
If your qualities and experience show that you deserve more, make sure to address it. Know your worth, and don’t sell yourself short! Communication is key when negotiating, and can be extremely beneficial if done effectively. The following are a few self-advocacy tips to help when approaching negotiation:
Know What You Want
Negotiating and selling yourself is much easier when you have a clear mindset and goal for the outcome. There needs to be something you’re working towards, or else your efforts will be steered without direction. You may want a specific yearly salary or more days paid days off throughout the year. Know your worth, but also remember to be reasonable with your requests.
Identify Your Strengths
Use your strengths to your benefit. Your employers will need a reason that you deserve higher pay or more time off. Think about what makes you stand out from the rest of the competition. What do you have to offer that others may not have? Even an experience or a strong social network can set you apart from the rest of the crowd.
Understand How to Compromise
In a negotiation, you won’t get everything you want. This knowledge is important to remember when making an effort. It can seem easy to get carried away by asking for more out of your further employer. Remember though that compromises are key. Make yourself a list of things you can forgo and things that you want before you negotiate. This can help you prioritize which request will get the most effort and which to focus on more.
Tips on How to Advocate and Sell Yourself In Life and Work
Learning how to effectively self-advocate will not only benefit you when applying for a position but also when you secure it as well. Going a step further, it can also help you with your life outside of work too. As human beings, we often feel uncomfortable talking about ourselves. However, embracing self-advocacy and learning more techniques on how to do it properly will help you advance in a multitude of ways.
Share Your Opinions and Ideas
Group dynamics sometimes have the power to push us back into our shells. We often aren’t completely transparent with our opinions because of the fear of judgment. You may also feel defeated if you see others not acknowledging your opinions. However, remember that you were hired for a reason. Your opinions and ideas are valuable to the company. If they weren’t, you would not be hired.
A great way to break this barrier of feeling uncomfortable is to speak confidently. When you have confidence in your words, others are more likely to listen and pay attention. You can increase your confidence by preparing in advance and having well-developed ideas. Think about questions others may have after they hear your idea or opinion. This way, you are quick on your feet with responses and can show that you have thought through your ideas.
Get Into the Habit of Asking for Help
Some people have trouble asking for help from others at work and in their personal lives. They fear appearing as inferior. It’s important to reframe the way we look at asking for help. Take it as a learning opportunity, which can save you lots of time with your tasks and responsibilities.
Learning from other people’s mistakes can help us not make the same mistake twice. Remember, you and your co-workers are on the same team. It’s important to help each other out when possible. You can use that saved time and knowledge towards other things that make you productive.
Practice Saying No
Saying no has acquired a bad connotation, especially at work. We find ourselves wanting to succeed and please others, especially our superiors. However, always saying yes can leave us with too much on our plates. It’s important to remember that we are only human and don’t operate like machines.
Saying no is a form of self-advocacy and care that more people need to adopt. You can learn how to say no by first understanding your limits. If you find something that you think is too much for you to handle, say something along the lines of, “I have XYZ on my plate, does this take priority over them?” Or try, “I would love to help you with this project, but don’t have the time right now. Can I assist you in finding other options?” In essence, always try to find an alternative solution for the person asking you for help.
In summary, looking for a job can leave you feeling exhausted and at times unmotivated. Remember good things never come easy. It’s about the hard work and dedication you put in. Practicing how to advocate for yourself is a perfect example of the resilience that is needed during the job hunt. Being able to self-advocate effectively can distinguish you from the competition and land you the role.
Not only will self-advocacy help you when applying to jobs, but it will serve you in your professional and personal life as well. For more information, take a look at JobHero’s post on advocating for yourself in a job search.