“Heroes must see to their own fame.
No one else will.”
– Gore Vidal
ACTUAL “CASE HISTORIES”: Each and every day, many thousands of people seek new jobs. Some get them, many don’t. Each and every day, thousands of people are contacted by recruiters to fill open positions. Some are successful when interviewed; many are not. What makes the difference? Often, it’s a bit of self-promotion.
It is during the interview process – those critical “give and take” discussions – that your potential value to your prospective boss and to the prospective employer is assessed. “What and how much can he or she do for us?” is the 800-pound question in the mind of interviewers.
In recent years it has become increasingly common in the interview process for job candidates to present what I call “Value Proven” letters – “mini-testimonials of value” – to their interviewers. They are brief notes, letters and memos from clients, customers and colleagues attesting to their sense that you are a significant contributor of value. Value Proven Letters are a part of the necessary “self-promotion” that can enhance the “value assessment” aspect of the interview process.
By the way, Value Proven Letters can also be used “internally,” that is, to support a request to your present employer for a raise, promotion or assignment to a different division.
Imagine that you are one of three candidates being interviewed to fill an open position as Nuclear Power Engineer for a large power plant builder.
Imagine, also, that, in your second interview with your prospective manager, you presented her with three letters, one each from (a) a former Nuclear Power Plant Construction Manager, (b) an industrial vendor whose cooperation is critical to large-scale construction, and (c) a former Nuclear Safety Inspector who is tops in his field, all attesting to their view that you are a very significant contributor to success.
Could they help your chances of getting hired? You bet. Worth the time and effort to assemble some “Value Proven” letters? Without question. Do competitive times call for competitive efforts? Of course.
LESSON TO LEARN: No matter how smart you think you are. No matter how hard you work. No matter how loyal an employee you are. No matter what you have done in the past. If you don’t “toot your horn” no one will know you have one.
You never know when a great opportunity is going to be offered to you. And you never know when, unexpectedly, you will need to develop career opportunities. So, think ahead, and get ready for whatever comes your way.
There are several different things you can do to elevate your chance of landing a new and better job. One of those ways is to assemble some really effective “Value Proven Letters.”
We define “Job Security” as confidence that (ii) your present job will end only on your timing, and (iii) if not, within a reasonable period of time (iv) you will have a new and appropriate job. These sure can help.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: Upon completion of a large client project, upon the retirement of a manager, and even the departure of a subordinate from your company, you might consider seeking a “Value Proven” letter to assist you when the right time comes upon you. Here are some tips:
1. You can use a “direct” approach. It doesn’t bother me at all when someone who once worked for me, or who once worked with me, asks for a reference, a recommendation, a testimonial or a letter of support. In fact, it sort of flatters me. Don’t be afraid to request a letter attesting to your significant contribution and proven value, provided, of course, you believe the person you are asking agrees with your own subjective assessment. It is wise, no matter what approach you might use, to mention that you are not looking to “make a move,” but that you want always to be prepared, just in case a significant opportunity does come your way.
2. After a great compliment is given to you, you are almost “invited” to ask. If, at the annual Holiday Dinner, you are told by the firm’s biggest client that you were a critical part of her company’s successful year, you might consider waiting a day or two to mention to her, in an email note or call that a wise person once told you that having a “portfolio of proven value” is a pillar of success, and so you would respectfully request a note attesting from her as to her view of your contribution.
3. You can use an “indirect” approach. Instead of “soliciting” an expression of value, you might instead “elicit” one. For example, “Congratulations on being hired as the new CEO of your company. It is my hope that I our working relation in past years helped catapult you to the heights you have achieved. This “indirect approach” will often result in the “Proven Value” memo or letter you seek.
4. A timely opportunity comes when congratulating a client on a significant success. One good time to seek out a “Value Proven Letter” is upon a great success. Perhaps a client’s significant achievement, a colleague’s significant success, or a subordinate’s promotion. That’s when people are in especially “generous” moods. Either the “direct” or the “indirect approach” is available in such circumstance.
5. End-of-year festivities are especially good opportunities. At year-end, it’s natural to look over the past year and make note of what we have achieved. This is a natural time to request a value-proven letter, especially from a manager you have worked for.
6. Depending on your relation, you might even offer to draft a “value proven” note for them. We are all so busy. If you have become close friends with a person of significant influence in your industry, and have contributed to his or her business efforts over time, you might explain that you assembling a small portfolio of materials “just in case” you need to respond to an unsolicited offer.
7. Short, sweet and to the point: Remember that this is a business matter, and so, while friendly and upbeat, this request should be short, direct and to the point. Novels, drama and complexity are not called for here.
8. Periodically Update and Re-send: Showing interviewers and employers “Value-Proven Letters” that are more than a few years old can make it appear that you have not been “of value” lately. Whenever the opportunity arises, keep your file of “Value-Proven” letters refreshed and updated.
Every employee needs to do his/her own “Personal Brand Marketing.,” Consider using our Model Memo “Request for Value-Proven Letter, with Four Samples“. It shows you “What to Say and How to Say It.”™ To get your copy, just [click here.] Delivered by Email – Instantly![jobsearch]
November is the ideal month to consider assembling new Value Proven Letters, in preparation for expected and unexpected job offers that may come your way in upcoming months. These eight ideas are offered to both inspire you to do so, and to help you take action on your own behalf, as well. Information, insight and inspiration to help you navigate and negotiate for yourself with your employer. That’s what SkloverWorkingWisdom™ is all about.
SkloverWorkingWisdom™ emphasizes smart negotiating – and navigating – for yourself at work. Negotiation of work and career issues requires that you think “out of the box,” and build value and avoid risks at every point in your career. We strive to help you understand what is commonly before you, and know what to “watch out” for. Now, the rest is up to you.
Always be proactive. Always be creative. Always be persistent. Always be vigilant. And always do what you can to achieve for yourself, your family, and your career. Take all available steps to increase and secure employment “rewards” and eliminate or reduce employment “risks.” That’s what SkloverWorkingWisdom™ is all about.
*A note about our Actual Case Histories: In order to preserve client confidences, and protect client identities, we alter certain facts, including the name, age, gender, position, date, geographical location, and industry of our clients. The essential facts, the point illustrated and the lesson to be learned, remain actual.
Please Note: This Email Newsletter is not legal advice, but only an effort to provide generalized information about important topics related to employment and the law. Legal advice can only be rendered after formal retention of counsel, and must take into account the facts and circumstances of a particular case. Those in need of legal advice, counsel or representation should retain competent legal counsel licensed to practice law in their locale.
Sklover Working Wisdom™ is a trademarked newsletter publication of Alan L. Sklover, of Sklover & Company, LLC, a law firm dedicated to the counsel and representation of employees in matters of their employment, compensation and severance. Nothing expressed in this material constitutes legal advice. Please note that Mr. Sklover is admitted to practice in the state of New York, only. When assisting clients in other jurisdictions, he retains the assistance of local counsel and/or obtains permission of local Courts to appear. Copying, use and/or reproduction of this material in any form or media without prior written permission is strictly prohibited. All rights reserved. For further information, contact Sklover & Company, LLC, 45 Rockefeller Plaza, Suite 2000, New York, New York 10111 (212) 757-5000.
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