Keith Cowing

Keith Cowing

Product guy. Entrepreneur.
Career advisor. Read bio

The 2 sentences that will get you hired

December 17, 2014

job-search-whiteboard

If you are looking for a job and a recruiter or hiring manager says “tell me about yourself,” there are two sentences that you should always lead with.

In order to craft those sentences, you need to first realize that hiring managers fundamentally care about two things:
1. Your commitment to a specific industry and function
2. Proof points that show you will succeed

Your first sentence should succinctly describe the focus of your job search. Let’s run through some examples.

The Ugly: “I’m looking for work”
This doesn’t specify an industry or a function, assumption -> you have no skills or direction.
The Bad: “I’m looking for work in the tech industry”
This is a very broad industry and does not specify a function, which means that you care where you work but don’t care what you do. Assumption -> you have no passion.
The Good: “I’m looking for a business development role at a consumer web company.”

If you’re looking for a job that is very similar to the one you already have, you can simply describe yourself: “I do product marketing for enterprise software.”

Your second challenge is to prove that you will succeed (better than all other candidates). Here are some ways you can do that:

Describe the impact that you personally had on an important project: “I launched a new product that increased our company’s revenue by 5%.”

Name-drop reputable companies you’ve worked at: “I have spent the past 5 years as a marketer at Google and Apple.”

Describe vertical progress in your career: “I have been promoted twice in the past 3 years.”

Describe specific skills you have learned (a decent backup until you can describe meaningful impact): “I have learned a lot about how to optimize marketing campaigns across different social media channels.”

When all else fails, simply rely on your passion for the role: “I have been building high-performance bicycles for the past decade and absolutely love it. I can’t imagine doing anything else.”

One final note – the shorter the better. True ballers do it with only a few words. Here are some you can aspire to:

Steve Jobs: “I am a product designer. I created Apple.”
Walt Disney: “I am a storyteller. I invented Mickey.”
Abraham Lincoln: “I am an honest and tenacious leader. I abolished slavery in the United States.”
Neil Armstrong: “First man on the moon.”
‘Nuff said, he doesn’t need a 2 page bio to describe his impact and results. He has plenty of stories to dig into when probed, but the intro line is what gets everything rolling.

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