Hi there, and welcome to the latest edition of my blog! This time, I’m going to answer a question that was sent in to me by a reader. After reading my book, she asked if I would comment further on the concept of having a “USP,” and how to best use it in a job interview. So, thanks for the question, Rachel, and here we go…
In case you haven’t heard the acronym, your USP is your Unique Selling Point! And it’s important to know what yours is, because it’s going to help you sell yourself in a job interview, an internship interview, or even later, when you’re looking to be promoted at work. Think of yourself as a product, and just like any product—from a new Subaru to Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia ice cream—you have your own unique selling point. A Subaru is dependable, classy, and rugged. Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia ice cream is creamy, chocolaty, cherry-y, and well, it’s simply heaven, in my opinion! (Enough said on that one. I’m headed to my freezer.)
Now, think about yourself. What sets you apart? Perhaps you’re really good at organizing things, from the papers on your desk to the shoes in your closet. Maybe you’re fearless in front of an audience, and you’re always asked to give the toasts at birthday parties. Or you’re a whiz at numbers. Or you’re an amazing graphics artist. Or you’re a really great listener. Or writer. Or you can yodel! (Not sure how you’ll capitalize on that one, but you can certainly try!) You get the idea.
Still not sure what your USP is? There are two good ways to tell. First way: you can ask someone. Someone honest. Maybe your mother, maybe not, depending on whether she’s just going to give you one of those “You’re good at everything, honey…” answers. But once you think of someone who’s gonna tell it like it is, just come out and boldly ask them, “What do you think I’m good at?” They may tell you things you didn’t even know about yourself, things you can use as your USP. Second way: you can ask yourself. When you’re really and truly rocking your game, what is it that you’re doing at that moment? Generally speaking, we feel best when we’re doing the things we excel at doing. So if you feel great whenever you’re making a presentation, or when you’re sitting at your desk, trying to figure out a complicated problem, or when you’re skiing down a hill, see whether that skill might be marketable. These examples might suggest a career in communications, systems analysis, or outdoor sports management, respectively.
So then, what do you do with your USP, once you’ve figured it out? It’s about to become your most valuable self-marketing tool! Come up with a little “speech,” a way to describe your USP succinctly, positively, and assertively. Your USP speech should be no longer than two to three sentences—one stand-alone sentence would be even better—and it should tell others what makes you stand out from the crowd. Here are a few examples:
I’m very good at taking complicated office procedures, breaking them down, and streamlining them into more doable work systems that everyone can figure out.
I’m a really good trainer. There’s nothing I love more than helping others learn a new skill, and I’m very good at explaining things in a way that people instantly understand.
I’m a very good at sales. I feel like I’m a natural-born sales person, because I truly care about people, and I want to share the things that I think will make their lives better.
(Or course, you’ll want to have an example of your USP at the ready, in case the interviewer wants to know more—a story that intrigues them and showcases your amazing skills.
Once you’ve got your USP speech down, practice, practice, practice! Practice on your roommates, your friends, your family—whoever will listen and give you honest feedback on your presentation. And then, during your next job interview, you’ll be completely prepared when they ask the ever-popular and ubiquitous question, “So what sets you apart from the other candidates?
Pow! Just like that: you’re ready to wow ‘em with your USP! Job well done.
If you have a career question you’d like for me to answer, feel free to contact me using the CONTACT form on my website. Send me your question, and you just might see your answer (and your name, if you wish) posted in one of my future blogs!