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Secret to getting a job: Demonstrate Value

by Rob Cross on July 21st, 2013

A Rule without Exception

Over the years I’ve helped hundreds of Graduates secure their first job after University. Without exception each time I’ve spoken to a person about where their job search is falling down, the error they are making is simple. And, to help them resolve this error I always say the same thing:

“Don’t tell me what you’ve done. Tell me the value you have created!”

Although this may sound simple, and perhaps even obvious, I am yet to meet a Graduate who has made this their primary focus when trying to secure their first job after University.

Why focus on Value

When we in the ‘corporate world’ are trying to recruit Graduates, we’re faced with a significant challenge of sifting through hundreds (if not thousands) of CVs. Unfortunately, for those trying to secure a job, it’s quite difficult for recruiters to spot the difference between one candidate and another; just about all CVs look the same and most say the same thing. So it is essential that you seek to make yourself stand out.

In any organisation, the focus of management is on delivering greater value to their shareholders, customers and also their employees. This is irrespective to whether they are in the public, private or not-for-profit sector. With this in mind, what differentiates one candidate from another is their ability to show that they are able to deliver value. That is, they prove that they are able to show initiative by focusing on doing more than just the obvious – they prove they’re focused on adding value.

So…For any employer, if their focus is on delivering value, then they definitely want to employee people who are focused on doing the same!

How to Demonstrate Value

To secure any job, regardless of whether it is a Graduate role, the recruitment process consists of multiple steps. Throughout each of these steps, to demonstrate value it is essential to follow my advice; don’t tell me what you’ve done, tell me the value you’ve created!

What this means in practice for each of step in the recruitment process is as follows:

CV: Within your CV, go beyond just listing the various jobs or roles that you’ve performed. Instead, for each job or role (including clubs memberships, travel expeditions etc) focus on proving that you knew who the customers or stakeholders were, and that you showed your initiative to add greater value to them. For example:

Bad Example: Lead waitress at Big Bob’s Restaurant

Good Example: Lead waitress at Big Bob’s Restaurant: Implemented process improvements to reduce time customers had to wait for meals after placing their order.

Application: As for your CV, when completing your application (and cover letter if required) keep the focus on demonstrating the value you added through all examples you are asked to provide. For example, if asked about when you lead a team:

Bad Example: I lead a team of five to complete a university assignment

Good Example: In leading a team of five peers to complete a university assignment I made sure that we focused on leveraging the strengths of each team member, whilst also fulfilling each of our development goals.

Interviews: When responding to interview questions focus on using the S.T.A.R. (Situation, Task, Action, Result) technique. In using this technique make sure you explain who the key customers or stakeholders were in the “Situation” component. Then describe how you used your initiative in the “Action” component. And finally, describe the value you added in the “Results” component. For example:

Question – Tell me when you’ve delivered exceptional service to customers?

Situation: While working in Big Bob’s restaurant as the Lead Waitress, my primary focus was on delivering exceptional service to our customers. Over the first week in my role I noticed that often customer orders were being delivered late, resulting in high levels of customer satisfaction.

Task: Recognising that we were not delivering exceptional service I set myself the task to improve this.

Action: The action I took was to gather all of my staff together and brainstorm how we could improve the processes within the restaurant. From the discussion we discovered that how we took orders and how they were presented to the kitchen was creating confusion, resulting in late delivery. To resolve this we changed how we took orders and implemented a new way of making sure that the kitchen received clear orders and the waiting staff were able to deliver the meals as soon as they were ready.

Result: All meals are now served on a suitable time and there have been no more customer complaints about this issue. Tips have also gone up by 50%.

Demonstrating value is easy, provided that you spend some time thinking through what you have done, who your customers and stakeholders were, and, how you showed initiative to deliver greater value for them.

Learn how to Secure a Graduate Job

To learn how to secure your Graduate job, sign up for one of the upcoming masterclasses. During these 1 day courses you will learn the secrets of making your CV and application stand out, as well as learning how to ace your interviews and assessment centres.

Go to: for more information

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