Sell Yourself Like Real Estate

You're ready to put yourself on the market, and you want multiple offers over your asking price. To get them, think of yourself as a property with real value, and your potential employer as a pre-approved buyer.

Getting the gig you want requires staging, pitching, and being in the right place at the right time. Here's how to close the deal.

Step 1: Prepare to be inspected.

Nobody wants to buy a house that smells like a cat box, and no employer wants to hire someone whose Google results are sketchy. Clean up and disinfect your first impression -- your digital footprint.

Step 2: Go for curb appeal.

One glance and you know if a building was carefully maintained or not. The same is true of your personal sales pitch. Set up a landing page somewhere, be it LinkedIn or a site of your own, and make sure your content looks and reads fresh and sharp.

Step 3: Stage your offerings.

Take out your resume and gut it of clutter. Get rid of non-pertinent experience, and exchange fluffy content for valuable keywords. A house looks bigger with a few key pieces of furniture and open curtains. Set yourself in the best light by arranging your accomplishments the same way.

Step 4: Get your pitch in order.

Nobody wants a fixer-upper in the job market, so make sure you come across as "ready to move in." A house isn't cramped; it's cozy. A condo isn't noisy; it's close to nightlife. Take what you feel are weak points and position them the same way. You're not overqualified; you're seasoned. You're not just tending bar, you're an expert in challenging customer service situations. There's leverage in the spin.

Step 5: Enlist agents.

Headhunters. Recruiters. Friends with connections. Tell everyone you know that you're on the market, and offer a finder's fee. You're making a business move: offering to take a friend to dinner if they hook you up with a contact or saying you've got $500 for the first person who lands you a job offer shows you mean business, and aren't just testing the waters.

Step 6: Document your offerings.

Pictures do what words can't. That's why real estate photography is a booming business. Set up a portfolio, even if it's just case studies of your previous work with logos, screen captures, or quotes form former co-workers, teachers, or clients.

Step 7: Hold an open house.

Invite people you know and trust out for coffee or lunch. Tell them what you're up to and ask for advice. Send your contact list your pitch materials, and ask them what they think. You'll get solid feedback and maybe even some useful leads.

Step 8: Brace yourself for market turmoil.

Maybe you're not in the best location, like a house in Detroit. Maybe your industry is in flux, like a suburban house in a city with terrible traffic. Maybe luck is just not on your side. Sometimes deals fall through. Sometimes highways get built through your back yard. Realize that this is beyond your ability to change, and do what you can to not take it personally.

Step 9: When all else fails, renovate.

No offers? No leads? Radio silence on the interview front? Sometimes you need a new roof before you can unload a cottage or new bathroom fixtures before you can put your condo up for sale. And you might need to bring some skills up to date or grab a certification or two. You might need a side project or a volunteer activity to round out your own pitch. You never know what will be the bullet point that closes the deal, so keep looking for chances to upgrade your offering.

Step 10: Keep up the maintenance.

Keep mowing the lawn and sweeping the sidewalk. Keep posting your materials and asking for leads. If time passes and nothing is happening, don't give up. It may be a buyer's market, but great properties always attract offers.
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