As a career coach, I’m always responding to career-related questions. I recently received a question on Quora asking, “What are a few unique pieces of career advice that nobody ever mentions?” This is a good one because there are a lot of possible answers to it, but I chose two answers that reflect what most of my clients don’t know when they first come to me.
If you work for someone else, you still need to think like an entrepreneur. Why? Because no one’s job is secure. You have to view your employer as your client. And if your “client” decides not to continue working with you, you have to be in a good position to quickly land your next client. You do this by becoming a good salesperson of your skills.
If you work for yourself, then you need to think of each meeting with potential clients or potential investors as a job interview. For instance, I have several consultations with potential clients each week. Therefore, I’m going on job interviews EVERY SINGLE WEEK of the year! I know I have to clearly express the benefits of my skills as a career coach.
In either scenario, you not only need to sell your skills. You also need to treat the situation as a two-way street. You need to find out if your next job or your next client is going to be a good fit for you.
This is why I always suggest job seekers ask their own questions during a job interview. These questions should be ones to help them determine if the company (i.e. “the client”) is who they really want to spend 40+ hours a week with for the next several years.
***Check out A Proven Interview Hack for sample questions to ask when being interviewed.***
For me personally as a business owner, I’m selective in who I take on as clients. Therefore, not only do I present the benefits of my services and make sure they’re a good fit for the potential client’s goals, but I also ask questions to find out if they’re the type of client I’ll want to work with.
I start with questions in my intake form and ask additional questions during the initial consultation. I’m looking to see how serious the person is about my coaching program. I’m also looking for someone with a teachable spirit, an open-mind, respect for others, courtesy, and professionalism. Someone who doesn’t possess these qualities is not a good fit for me or my company’s mission or programs.
You need to be selective too. If you’re a job seeker with multiple job offers, be selective. If you’re an entrepreneur with multiple potential clients, be selective (even when you feel like can’t afford to be!). Here’s how.
Before walking into an interview or a meeting, take some time to do an inventory of:
- your skills and strengths,
- how you uniquely demonstrate those skills and strengths,
- the benefits of your skills and strengths,
- your needs and wants,
- your deal-breakers,
- and the questions to determine any potential deal-breakers or to determine if the other party can meet at least 60% of your needs and wants (because you’ll rarely find a case that meets 100% of them! – BE REALISTIC!).
Choose only those opportunities that are at least 60% compatible with your inventory. Keep in mind too that numbers 1-3 will give you leverage to ask for numbers 4-5.
Following this advice will help you develop good habits and preparedness for those times when you find yourself at a career crossroads.