Workin’ 9 to 5 (and articulating your value)


“When your clients realize you are working with them, and not simply for them, you are creating value.” (source)

The other day I was having lunch with my coach, wanting to focus on articulating myself in a way that is more clear, more succinct.

Those of you who know me well, know that I do get to the point, but sometimes I’m not as succinct as I’d like it to be.  Okay, I can ramble. While I’ve gotten over the majority of the confidence speedbumps that had slowed me down in the past, working in a cynical industry has made me cautious, almost gunshy, about selling myself outright.  And while articulating your value isn’t the same as overselling, there sometimes is a fear of the fine line between being genuine and stepping into, well, bullshit territory, when communicating what you have to offer.

Here’s the deal: I’m a darn good recruiter.  Why?  I have created a strong network over the past 15 years, I have a keen intuition for “fit”, strong process creation is my middle name, I understand the nature of the startup beast, and candidate experience is my legacy. I’m efficient, determined, and passionate about what I do. I take the load off the hiring managers and am always honest about my perspective on recruiting, culture, and where we can improve.  We are partners. And finally, with all of this, my services are at a great value – not only do I find great candidates, but I empower teams with efficient, effective processes that allow them, long after I’m gone and they’ve grown into bigger companies, to build their employer brand.

So why does it sometimes take me 45 minutes to get this out?  Articulation. Preparation. Nerves. And…not always taking my own advice.  As the conversation went on with my mentor, that last part (like any good therapy) came out of my own mouth.  I thought about how I advise my clients and others about interview skills – don’t babble.  Say the basics, be succinct, and let them follow up for additional clarification if they need it. Rehearse before you go in.  Have your notes in front of you.  Yet for some reason, at times I found myself feeling like the cobbler’s daughter with no shoes of her own.

“Many who already possess a superior command of the language don’t take full advantage of that skill, fearful of either not being understood, or worse, coming across as pompous.” (source)

Additionally, the cynical nature of the industry that I serve, where a lot of recruiters come from sales rather than true recruiting backgrounds, makes me extra careful in how I represent myself.  So I’ve leaned heavily on the conversational side of myself rather than formal presentations that can sometimes appear “scripted”.  Again, a fine line because I want to show I am trustworthy but still sound like I’m not making it up as I go along.  As I am a genuine person, incapable of pretending to be something I’m not, I’ve done pretty well.  But I want to do better.  A decade ago, I learned the term continuous improvement when I was an HR Manager at a manufacturing company, and it’s stuck with me. No matter how successful we are, we can always finesse what we do.  We are here to grow, to evolve.

With my fairly unique job description, initially prospective clients think they should compare me to staffing agencies, which is not what I do – and therefore the first thing I emphasize. To most startups, staffing agencies conjure up memories of aggressive sales types with no in-house recruiting background (sorry staffing agency folks, I know there are good recruiters in your industry, but it can be hard for folks to trust someone who’s never worked onsite), telling them they know what they need when they have never been in an even remotely similar environment and with few true connections in the industry – and often terrible results to boot.  So my first job is to alleviate that trepidation and let them know, I’ve been there, I’ve done this, I know what you’re dealing with.  And help is on the way.

So I’m going to own it – out loud.  What I’ve done, what I can do, what I will achieve. I’m going to rehearse, I’m going to articulate, I’m going to be more concise.  And I’m still going to be my awesome self throughout the process.  Because while I can write up a storm, if I can’t articulate it verbally, I’m not being fair to myself or my prospective clients. And y’all, I’m living the dream right now – doing what I LOVE!

And that’s SO worth protecting.

(And worth celebrating!  Here’s a favorite song I want to share with y’all on this sunny April day…)

Stand up for your rights
Keep shining your light
And show the world your smile
~India Arie

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