Have you ever seen a sticker on the window of a new car? It shows a complete list of features. Those listed establish value and give an exact account of what a buyer is getting for his money. They are tangible and factual. When combined, they make the case for the price of the vehicle, which is clearly displayed. The buyer may negotiate from that sticker, but the negotiation tends to revolve around a couple hundred dollars here and there. If the car has a feature the buyer doesn’t need, conventional wisdom dictates he attempt to get out of paying for that feature. Overall, the buyer has a reasonable idea of how much the car is worth by the features and performance data supplied and can better establish what a fair price would be to pay. It’s unlikely a buyer would suggest with any degree of seriousness paying $5,000 for a car the sticker supplies ample evidence is worth at least $10,000.
I think job seekers could learn a lot from car stickers. Too often their value positions are rooted heavily in intangibles and carry little weight in terms of dollars. To begin a case for value with comments about how great a listener or team player you are is about as effective as the car sticker noting the car is shiny and smells nice on the inside. The buyer probably likes that the car is shiny and smells good, but it’s kind of expected of the car and doesn’t add true dollar value. Don’t you think most employers expect you to be a good listener with decent team skills? How much dollar value do you think that adds?
“Well, we were going to offer you $35,000, but since you are a good listener, we’ll make it $45,000.”
Never mind many of the intangibles are things potential employers can pick up on by their own observations. It’s a waste of time to point out the car is shiny when I can judge that for myself. You need not tell me you are a good listener. I’ll form my own opinion by how well you listen to me.
Those who are really interested in establishing clear value to a prospective employer need to give careful consideration to the features they have to offer and how those features benefit companies and situations. Support those features with historical data. Keep in mind, the buyer is only going to feel compelled to pay for the features he truly needs. Selling your Russian abilities to a small company in Michigan with no dealings out of the US does nothing for value.
In terms of the sticker price, know your value and don’t be afraid to list it when an employer asks. I’m not a fan of leading with your price in a cover letter, but I also don’t think job seekers should run away from nailing down what they believe they are worth when called to do so. Take stock of what options you offer, figure out what they are worth in today’s economy, make it clear you have them to buyers who find them relevant and make the sale!
– Lisa W-P, CADL Guest Blogger