Ok, you’re not in business so you think a Unique Selling Proposition (USP) doesn’t apply? When applying for a role, your qualities can be likened to a USP; your strengths and capabilities ARE your selling point and something you can use to your advantage if you know how.

Imagine you’re a product amongst several other products sitting on a shelf, and that hiring managers are walking up and down the isle, just glancing at each product and reading the packaging to determine which one they will choose.  When you look at it this way, your resume is the same thing.

When you are prospecting employers, what is the message you are imparting?  Why should they hire you above everyone else?  What makes you so different from the next candidate? What value are they going to receive when employing you?  These are powerful questions to ponder and your answers could very well complete your USP and give you a competitive edge over your competition.

So what, exactly, is a USP?  The Wikipedia has an excellent definition.  Visit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unique_selling_point

You’ve more than likely come across a USP without even realising it was a USP – they are usually slogans.  Some of these may be familiar to you:


  • Aussie Résumés: Career services that win jobs.
  • Avis Rental Car: We’re number two. We try harder.
  • BMW: The ultimate driving machine.
  • Budweiser Beer: Where there’s life, there’s Bud!
  • Cadbury’s Dairy Milk Chocolate: A glass and a half in every pound.
  • Castlemaine XXXX Lager: Australians wouldn’t give a XXXX for anything else.
  • Castrol Motor Oil: Castrol – liquid engineering.
  • FedEx: When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.
  • Friends of the Earth: Think globally, act locally.
  • Gillette: The best a man can get.
  • KFC: Finger-lickin’ good.
  • Nestlé: Have a break. Have a kit kat.

And the list goes on.


How to put together your USP (or, for the purpose of your resume, what I call your “Profile”)

Firstly, start analysing your attractive points from an employer’s perspective. What compliments do you regularly receive from employers?  Do you get rewarded for doing a certain function particularly well?  What are you revered for amongst your peers?

Jot down as many positives as you can come up with.  Once done, rank them in priority according to what an employer would find the most attractive; for instance, it may look something like this:

Strength Rank
Powerful communicator 1
Easygoing nature 5
Strong leadership skills 4
Good negotiator 3
Analytical thinker 7
Lateral problem solver 6
Sales guru 2

Next, define your values; what matters to you and drives you to succeed.  Without clearly defined values you could be aimlessly wandering different paths which don’t truly connect with you at a deeper value.  This can lead to unhappiness within the workplace and, ultimately, your personal life.  When you step out on your path with purpose and confidence, you find your true calling in life and something you are very passionate about.  Find something you are passionate about and you will never “work” a day in your life.

You can weave a value into your written USP (or what I call a “Profile” in a resume / CV).  A high proportion of employers look favourably upon this as it demonstrates your commitment to yourself and what you believe in.  What is the message imparting?  I cannot answer that as it would differ according to the circumstance, the position itself, and the employer reading it (i.e. their different perspective on things). But for instance: honour, integrity, faith, stickability, someone who holds themselves accountable for their actions – these are all attributes that come to my mind when I see someone who has cited their values, as they are prepared to put them out there for all to view and stand by them. What is your take on it?

Then, inform the employer of what results they can get by employing you. Determine your accomplishments. Are you a professional who has won awards within your field?  This may set you apart from everyone else.  Why hide it right on the last page?  Shout it out in your USP!  If you’re an award-winner, no doubt you generated positive publicity for your current employer… the prospective employer is thinking you could do the same for them. Are you a results-focused individual who consistently exceeds targets for your employer by X% annually?  Are you renowned within your profession for something in particular?  Are you accustomed to managing multi-million dollar budgets or large teams?  Do you get results in some other way?

Basically, in a nutshell you’re telling the hiring manager what you do for your current employer and what you can now do for them.  Dangle a carrot!!  If you want to be right out there (and in particular, this would work very well for certain professions), you could even come up with your very own slogan… John Citizen: I’ll increase your member base by 50% within the first 6 months. If I don’t, you can fire me.   Of course, to use something like this you would be very confident in your skills!  Dare to be different 🙂 The power is all yours if you believe in yourself and are not afraid to shout it from the rooftops.  Take a leap of faith.

Once you’ve done all that, it’s then time to craft your very own Unique Selling Proposition.

In a competitive job market you are selling yourself sight unseen. No one else is going to do it on your behalf.

The key to attracting the hiring manager’s attention is tell them what you’re good at and what they can expect in return.  If they receive 500 applications and you’re only one of a handful who has done this, you are placed in a positive position which, in turn, results in more interviews – fast.

Good luck analysing your strengths and accomplishments and don’t forget to have fun whilst putting it together!

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