How to advocate for yourself as a job seeker

Job seekers walk a fine line when communicating with recruiters and hiring managers. Many fear that being too aggressive will cost them opportunities, but being too passive may show disinterest. The key is knowing how to be your own best advocate as you navigate these important conversations.

“You really want to learn to do it as effectively as possible so you can get what you want,

Credibility is key

“Credibility — especially when you’re looking for a job — is paramount,” said Hansen, who is a coach and a successful trial attorney.

“If they don’t believe me, I can’t win,” she added. She added in an interview that “One of the things I teach my clients is that you have an inner jury that you choose and then you have the outer juries. You have to believe yourself and believe in yourself. Then, you need to make others believe.”

While some people think a person can “fake it until you make it,” the research suggests genuinely believing in yourself is an important step if you want to set yourself up for success.

Specifically, according to experiments done by an international group of researchers that showed people who were prompted to remember powerful experiences before interviews made better impressions than those who weren’t asked to remember those powerful experiences.

That shows the importance of believing in yourself before you go out and try to make people believe.

Once you do believe in yourself and you’re ready to make the case to others, it’s important to have evidence to support your claims. The evidence can be something a previous manager said about your performance, a story about a successful project you got off the ground or something else that shows people how effective you are in your career. You can then use that evidence in your responses to interview questions.

Of course, it’s also important to let your actions speak for your credibility as well, including showing up on time for the interview. You should also not try to stumble through a question if you don’t know the answers. It’s good to respond with, “I don’t know but I’ll find out.”

Ultimately, credibility comes down to people wanting to believe that you can help. “One of the parts of building credibility is knowing who you’re talking to and what they need to hear.”

Don’t be afraid to ask questions

One of the biggest missed opportunities during a job interview is when the interviewer asks the applicant if they have any questions. Most people will ask either a weak question or say “nope” out of fear or anxiety. But, it’s important to ask questions as a job seeker as a form of advocacy.

There is a whole host of studies that show people view people who ask the most questions as the most intelligent. The questions don’t have to be complex, but they should be genuinely curious.

One strategy she suggested for job seekers is framing questions to put the power back in the hands of the interviewer. For example, instead of asking how the team works together, you should be asking “what do you want me to know” about how this team works together. It puts the power back at the other person’s feet.

Questions shouldn’t end at the job interview, though. She suggests using them as part of your follow-up with potential employers.

“Mention something the other person talked about and ask curious and probing questions about it to make the other person feel like you’re interested and interesting.”

Keep your approach in perspective

An important point about being an effective advocate for yourself is to understand the perspective of the person on the other side of the table. Knowing what they’re looking for and what’s important to them will help you understand what you need to say and do to make your case.

It’s not so important to feel what the other person is feeling, but you need to know how the other person sees.

You should keep perspective in mind throughout your job search — not just in interviews. You want to look at your resume from the reader’s perspective and maybe tweak it to who you’re applying to. If one company is really focused on culture, you may want to rework your resume to focus on culture.

Trying to understand the company’s perspective, the recruiter’s perspective, and the hiring manager’s perspective can help guide you through a successful hiring process.

If you’re struggling to understand those perspectives, Hansen said it’s important to listen.

“People are telling you a lot with their tone of voice,” she said. “If you really want to get a sense of the other person, listen to their tone. Practice makes perfect with that.”

How do you advocate for yourself during the job search process? Join the conversation by commenting.

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