Today’s Big Idea: In a competitive job market where there is intense competition for the best jobs, candidates must find a way to differentiate themselves from the competition. What’s the answer?

Effective communication — being able to connect your skills, experience and record of accomplishment with the needs of the prospective employer. Today I will share with you three steps to improve your performance in an interview.

Here is today’s Big Idea:

The secret to effective communication — the art of explaining something to someone – is to first know the subject. I am not talking about just being familiar with dates, places and scope of responsibility for each job. No, I am talking about something that is more central to an executive’s reputation — having a deep understanding of what your core strengths really are and to be able to communicate those in a compelling fashion with ample examples of your relevant accomplishments and successes.
At the center of this compelling communication is something I call the Professional Brand Value Statement. Other coaches call it different things and various people have a slightly different spin on the concept. My friend Nancy Swain of Strategic Intelligence uses the term Value Proposition. My preferred term is the Professional Brand Value Statement. What is it and what is its purpose?
Sometimes in my speeches and in the courses I teach on interviewing skills, I refer to it as a candidate’s product development description.

In the world of product brand management, the first step is to develop a description of the product or service. This product description is the source document for the messaging. It is thoughtfully developed because the communications piece will determine success or failure.

So today I want you to think of your Professional Brand Value Statement as your product description that will drive your messaging from the development of your resume, to the final interview. Its has been my experience that the executives who have taken the time to develop a solid Professional Brand Value Statement do a better job communicating their value in a compelling manner. They effectively differentiate themselves from the competitors during the interview process. So let me walk you through the steps to create your very own Professional Brand Value Statement:

FIRST, gather a written inventory of your strengths. Take the time and write down all those things you feel you do well. You may have a list of 10, 15, 25 or even 30 or more skills. After you complete that list begin writing down evidence to support why you feel they are strengths. Quantifiable, relevant accomplishments you have achieved over the years that specifically support your claims. Be honest and be thorough because the stakes are high.

Now, to be an effective communicator, you must be focused. If you have a strengths list that is composed of 20 – 25 items, you must begin to pare it down. You cannot have focused messaging with 25 items. So, get out your sharp editing pencil and begin to eliminate the lesser strengths. Cut the list down to four or five of what you believe are your signature strengths. Challenge yourself. Be honest. Be brutally candid. Test your evidence — will this information be impressive to a recruiter or prospective employer?

Now, write a first draft of your of your Professional Brand Value Statement. Be focused, be succinct. This is not intended to be “War & Peace.”

Your narrative should explain why a company would want to hire you.

Now read it back. Stand in front of a mirror and read it a second time. Now, make it better. Rewrite this statement. Keep rewriting it until it is, without doubt, the best it can possibly be. Remember the competition for the best jobs is intense.

When you have finished, your Professional Brand Value Statement should be the source document that covers the messaging and accomplishment themes for your resume, your cover letter, and of course, in the interviews.

Do not memorize it. Learn it, upside down and backwards, so that you can incorporate these themes in how you communicate with recruiters and future employers.

Having a Professional Brand Value Statement will help you become a more effective communicator about your value and why someone would want to hire you.

Now here are two more career tips for the week:

During telephone interviews, guard against a decline in energy.Sit so you can see yourself in a mirror. Are you smiling? Do you look engaged? Do you sense the energy? It is OK to be nervous. It is not OK for your anxiousness to compromise your performance.

And finally: Remember to arrive early for the interview. If you are being interviewed by a group on a telephone conference service, log on three to five minutes early. It is ALWYS better to be a few minutes early than to be one minute late. When you are relying on technology and you are tight for time, anything can and will go wrong.

That’s it for this week. if you have any questions regarding career management, the art of interviewing, or career transitions and outplacement, you can reach me at AsktheRecruiter@JohnGSelf.Com

Self Perspective is produced by JohnGSelf Partners in collaboration with Liberation Syndication. You can listen on our website, JohnGSelf.Com, LinkedIn or iTunes.