Regardless of whether you’re looking for a new job, for a promotion within your organization, or to quantify your value to your boss during a performance review, it pays to have a handle on what makes you special.

According to the Bureau of Labour Statistics the average workers has 10-15 jobs in their careers with the average duration of each job at 4.4 years. For the youngest employees, the average stay in a role is half that (i.e. 2.2 years per position). This means that the chances of change, and hopefully rising up within your organization, can come around fairly frequently.

I’ve seen literally thousands of career arcs during my 27 years of recruiting in the tech sector, and there are some basic rules which I think apply to anyone considering a change or a new opportunity.

Ask yourself ‘so what’ when describing yourself
When you look at your resume, or what you’ve accomplished throughout the year, ask yourself ‘so what’. If you have to keep talking it means you haven’t gotten to the benefit for the person you’re having the conversation with. You’ve got to think, ‘what do I have?‘, or ‘what have I done?‘, that will make the person (i.e. my boss, the recruiter, the hiring manager) more productive and have an easier life. That is, from their standpoint what’s in it for them to give you a raise, a promotion or to hire you?

Focus on the business drivers that really matter to leaders
There are some basic drivers that leader’s care about and that will have significant impacts on their business. Here’s a Value Proposition list from Jill Konrath, a sales trainer and speaker and it includes a comprehensive list of business drivers that resonate with a leader. Things like: improving on lead conversion; reducing waste;  improving on turnaround time; shortening time to market; improving sales velocity, etc.


Do your homework to clarify what makes you special
Highlights of your impact might be: reaching certain milestones; the number of employees that have worked for you; industries that you have experience in; projects that you’ve worked on (and their outcomes); budgets or P&L’s that you’ve managed; sales expectations that you’ve met; or technologies that you have experience with.

Take inventory of what you’ve accomplished and the benefits that they provided to your company. Use the following template to clarify where and when you’ve made a difference, how you saved money, improved performance, won awards, reduced costs etc. These are all transferable from position to position and company to company.

Walking into an interview or a salary review, prepared with pertinent facts, will change the nature of the conversation from what’s in it for you to here’s how I can make a difference to the interviewer’s, or boss’, life. Take that stance and I guarantee you’ll love the results.