Jayhawk Career Network: How to talk about yourself and your value

Posted on Mar 20, 2019 in Career/Life and News

Bill Mar | Jayhawk Career Network
Half the battle of getting a job is putting in the hard work to be prepared and gain relevant experience. The other half is conveying that work and experience to prospective employers.

How do you effectively talk about yourself and your value? Bill Mar, c’88, a manager for site reliability engineering at LinkedIn, is involved with NOVA, a nonprofit employment agency that offers customized services to job seekers in Silicon Valley. Through his work, Mar has learned some tips and tricks to landing a job.

Put your best foot forward

Often, it’s not what you know, but who you know (which is where KU Mentoring can help!). However, once you’re in front of someone, what do you say?

Mar, c’88, explains how to position yourself for success when talking to people, whether it’s a first introduction or during an interview.

“You don’t go in and say ‘Get me a job,’” Mar says. “It’s more about informational meetings and finding out the culture. If you focus on giving, you’ll naturally get back.”

If you’re not asking for a job,  Mar says it’s still critical to convey your value, but you don’t have to be “rah rah” about it. It’s OK to be humble while making sure the person you’re talking to understands what it is you do.

Practice your elevator pitch

One way to speak plainly of your value is by providing scale and quantifying your work. Mar also suggests telling your story in the form of PSRs, which stands for Problem, Solutions, Results.

“That’s the way that things about yourself should be described,” he says. “They can be used in different orders depending on what you’re trying to get across to people.”

It’s important to practice these two- to three-minute-long PSRs so that you’re able to tell a fluid and coherent story. Think of it like an “elevated” elevator pitch.

Learn from your mistakes

How do you talk about your qualities that might be less than ideal? Mar, who helps KU students by conducting mock interviews, warns against being blindly honest.

“[In an interview] they’ll ask you, ‘What’s your least favorite characteristic?’” he says.  “Some people will take it really literally and tell me. You have to not say anything toxic to the industry that you’re in.”

Mar explains that interviewers typically ask this question to see how well you deal with adversity and learn from your mistakes. For example, if you want to go into the tech industry, don’t say you’re resistant to change. Instead, follow up a shortcoming with an action plan.

“The issue is not ‘I will fail,’” Mar says. “The issue is ‘I know how to deal with failure and I won’t repeat the same mistakes.’”

—Brianna Mears, digital media intern


The Jayhawk Career Network gives students and alumni access to career resources, jobs, events, programming and connections at every stage of their career. Services include KU Mentoring, a job board, informational articles and more. For more information about the Jayhawk Career Network, contact Kristi Laclé, assistant vice president for the Jayhawk Career Network, at kristilacle@kualumni.org.

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