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I read a couple of things this weekend that made me desire having candidates who know their own value proposition. What's your hook as a candidate?  What's your value prop?

You can't be all things to all people, so take a stand.  If you don't take a stand, odds are I'll find a candidate who's a better fit.  So will everyone else.  Nobody wants vanilla at Baskin Robbins.Don-draper

We can either talk for 90 minutes so I can figure it out, or I can lead off the interview by asking you - and we can see if you can articulate it quickly and concisely - and make me BELIEVE..  Then I'll grill you for the next 90 minutes and I'll tell you at the end of the interview whether I agree or think what you said was all smoke, no fire...

What's my motivation?  Seth Godin, Lance Haun and Mad Men.  First up is Seth Godin:

"What story do you tell yourself about yourself?  I know that marketers tell stories. We tell them to clients, prospects, bosses, suppliers, partners and voters. If the stories resonate and spread and seduce, then we succeed.

But what about the story you tell yourself? Do you have an elevator pitch that reminds you that you're a struggling fraud, certain to be caught and destined to fail? Are you marketing a perspective and an attitude of generosity? When you talk to yourself, what do you say? Is anyone listening?

Next up, I read what Lance Haun had to say in the recently released "What I Know About Getting a Job", featured over at Penelope Trunk's Brazen Careerist:

"If you understand what you do and how you bring value to organizations you work for, you hammer that every time you interact with people. When you network, when you’re putting together a resume, when you’re interviewing, when you talk to customers, clients and competitors… everything.

And it isn’t like this is easy. Or that I’ve figured this all out how to do this myself. But I’ve done better by focusing on what can I bring rather than trying to encompass everything I’ve ever done ever. That’s just a losing strategy.

I used to say I knew very little about getting a job. I knew what worked for me but I realized that many HR folks didn’t share my views on quite a few things. After two unexpected job losses in a year (and two total weeks of unemployment between them), maybe I know more about it than I thought.  Knowing something about yourself and not being apologetic about marketing yourself is key. Everything else is just details."

Finally, here's the description from Time on how Mad Men hero/villain Don Draper reacted to a question of career identity in this season's premiere:

"Yet the side effect of limitless choice is paralysis. At the beginning of Season 4 of Mad Men(AMC, Sundays, 10 p.m. E.T.), Don Draper (Jon Hamm) has made a clean break with the past, having ended his marriage and started his own ad business. Successful and in his prime, he can remake himself however he likes. But when we first see him, he's struggling to answer a simple question from an Advertising Age reporter: "Who is Don Draper?" He stares across the lunch table, blank, like a shopper boggling at 93 varieties of potato chip."

Who is Don Draper? More importantly, who are you?  If you're hunting for a job, you need to know and be capable of sharing.  Don't ramble, whine or evade the question.  Own it and don't try to be everything to everyone.

5% of the world being very interested is better than 60% being "kind of" interested.  Be brave, pick the lower percentage and answer the question.

Who are you?


Michael Haberman SPHR

Very few people can answer that question successfully. Many of us struggle lifelong with "who am I" in order to be able to answer the question "who are you?" I see it alot in networking events and I see it alot in counseling job hunters. But it is not just a question job hunters need to answer. You, as a working HR pro, may be asked at anytime to articulate your value proposition, so you need to think about it. Often, because what worked last year may no longer be relevant today.


Wow, great timing. I like that about you Kris. You always seem to write about things that are churning around in my head!

While I'm not looking for a new gig, I have been wrestling with this very question lately. I used to be able to answer it so quickly and succinctly. Now, I'm not sure. The way I have historically added value has changed or maybe is still changing. I'm not yet sure where it will land, but I need to spend some time focusing on this, directing it, not just letting it fall where it falls.

Or maybe I'm just having a mid-career crisis? :)


I wish more job candidates took this approach - it would save both sides of the table time & money. It will also make networking more effective because people wouldn't refer applicants to/for the wrong job. A great person in the wrong job equals tragedy. Move them to the right job and they're a superstar. And companies also really need to take the time to really know what they need in a successful candidate for their opening. When both sides honestly present themselves, everyone wins.

Lance Haun

Making your experience sharable is a great way of putting it. So like, when I share Kris Dunn, I talk about Daxko, your blog, Fistful, talking HR and basketball. It takes 30 seconds but if someone is interested in any of those things, we're on a path.

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