One of the things most people find intimidating when job searching is meeting new people and knowing what to say. Their fears are often based on concerns such as turning people off by announcing they need a job.
Before conducting a job search, introducing yourself might have felt easier because you had a title to help pave the way towards talking about your job. Talking about what you do occurs naturally in most conversations, as a way to build rapport and establish common ground. However, when you go through a job transition your identity often stays with the job you left behind.
When you are unemployed and feel a little squeamish about meeting new people, you need a plan to help you move past the uncomfortable aspects of people asking you about your background.
Whether it be an introduction during a networking meeting, zoom call, or during an interview, you need to know what to say and how to say it that draws interests rather than create a mediocre perception.
Even if you are nervous and apprehensive about what to say, practicing first gives you more confidence, and the more you talk with people the more natural your introduction will sound.
The worst thing you can do is try to memorize a mini commercial, it can sound too rehearsed. Instead, focus on your attributes and skills that set you apart from others. If you have trouble with knowing what you do well, ask people close to you for their feedback.
Job titles, no doubt, can give you a sense of identity, but when you launch a search suddenly the title of “seeking employment” does not sound as enticing. Job searching is what you do, it does not define who you are or your abilities to contribute.
When talking with others, your goal is to develop shared interests and gather more information about marketplace opportunities. During an interview, your goal is to briefly describe your background and why your experience matches the job description.
Most communication experts agree that you have about 1-2 minutes to give a brief overview of your background, just enough time to capture interests. If you reach the 3-5-minute mark you are moving into the danger zone of rambling and risk losing attention.
I never will forget a manager who introduced himself using a list of responsibilities that lasted 10 minutes and then went on to describe what his references would say about him. Clearly, he needed to step back and build his communication skills and self-awareness. Instead of remembering his skills as a top candidate, most will remember him for his lengthy introduction.
Here are some things you can do to make a memorable introduction:
- You want to strive for an introduction that is brief but gives a good overview of your background, sprinkled with the right words that support your goals. Developing a mini commercial that sounds genuine takes practice, not memorization. The key is to think through what you want to say and the image you want to create.
- Your goal in telling someone about yourself is to pique their interest while giving them a snapshot of what you do best.
- Prepare by writing your introduction down, using these four areas as a guideline: brief personal background, early work experience, recent work experience with key achievements, and your current situation.
- Another suggested outline would be to start with a personal statement beginning with one sentence using a title or profession; “I am a trusted project manager concentrating in the energy field such as exploration and production, utilities and renewable energies.” The next steps follow with what you do, what makes you the best, and what you want to do in moving your career forward.
- You can also introduce yourself by sharing your goals, “I am transitioning my career focus towards my interest in landscaping design, and now is the perfect time to launch my dream job”. Proceed to tell them briefly about your transition with enthusiasm.
Practice your introduction until it becomes a part of you, no need to feel as though you will alert people because you are not asking for a job. You are simply telling them about yourself in a way that helps them visualize what you do by staying memorable.
How would you describe a great introduction?
What makes it so effective?