Win the Offer, Part 1: Before You Start Job Hunting

Looking for a new job is a major event for most of us. It can change your life for the better, but it’s an adventure where the outcome is never certain. Having helped thousands of candidates land jobs they love, I’ve learned a few tips to help job seekers on their personal journeys. In this three-part series “Win the Offer,” I will share some of that advice. In this first part, I will focus on what you need to know before you start the job hunt.

No great adventure has ever succeeded without the right preparation. Too often we jump right into the job search process without thinking. But that is not a job search strategy. If you want to find the job of your dreams and win the offer, you need to lay the groundwork.

In ancient Greece, when a hero was preparing to set off on a great adventure, they would first visit the Oracle at Delphi so they could learn their future. When they got there, what they found was a message engraved over the entrance: “Know Yourself!” That was the real secret that these adventurers came to learn. When you truly “know yourself” you can make your own future happen.

I offer the same advice to anyone who wants to be the “hero” of their own job search adventure. Before you start looking for a job, get to “know yourself.” Reflect on what it is you expect to get out of your next career step. Start by asking yourself a few questions:

What Is Motivating You?

You may already know the reason you want a change in your work situation, but it could also be a vague sense of dissatisfaction or desire for a change of scenery. The thing is, if you don’t know what you want or what you’re trying to fix, you risk walking into the same situation all over again. If you feel stagnant, what’s the cause? Money? Lack of advancement? Not learning any new skills? Try to get to the bottom of it. Why do you feel the way you do? What changes would fix it and make you happier? And taking a step back, are you on the path you want to be? If not, how can you get back on track?

What Is the Real Reason You Are Looking for a New Opportunity?

Trust me, this question will come up. Whoever is looking to hire wants to know that you are enthusiastic about the position and not just interviewing out of boredom or testing the waters. You need to have a genuine reason, other than “I just feel like it” or “It’s time for a change.” Identify what is driving you, then apply that to your career journey.

What Is Your Elevator Pitch?

Every candidate needs to have a 30-second blurb about themselves rehearsed and ready to go. When someone says to you, “Tell me about yourself,” do you know yourself well enough to answer? This is how most hiring managers typically begin an interview. That means it’s an amazing opportunity to frame the conversation and how you present yourself, if you’re prepared. You should know:   

  • What is your goal?

  • What drives you?

  • What is something they *can’t* discover by reading your resume or LinkedIn page?

  • What is something about you that would make them say “wow”?

Your elevator pitch is your chance to really wow them. Don’t pass it up.

Do You Know Your Resume?

Your current position is naturally the freshest in your mind, but all your experiences are fair game for discussion. When the time comes to revise your resume, don’t limit it to updating your current duties. Make adjustments to your past experience to emphasize how you’ve developed and used the skills you need for the positions you’re applying for now.

You need to have a rehearsed sentence ready for every bullet point on your resume. Know what you’ve done and how to field questions on it. Just because it’s something you did a few years ago, don’t assume they won’t be interested in learning more. After all it’s your experience, and it’s part of your skill set and who you are.

The key to a successful job hunt begins with preparation. Before you send out your first application, make sure you know yourself: who you are, what you’re looking for, and what you can offer. One you have that down, you’re ready to go.


Stay tuned for the next edition of Win the Offer, where I’ll be covering pre-interview preparation. Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss it!


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