My good friend, Carol, who is a marketing genius, taught me the importance of having a “sticky message”. A sticky what, you say? A sticky message is the take away that you leave your audience with whether it’s a conversation, a speech, or an interview. A great sticky message is easy to remember, it’s unique, and most importantly, it’s memorable. Memorable as in your message will be remembered for 3 hours, 3 weeks, 3 months, maybe even three years. It’s the key to great advertising. Think of Nike: “Just Do It.”
So what does this have to do with your job search? A job interview is essentially an advertisement for yourself and what only you can do for the company. When you are applying for jobs, you are literally among hundreds, if not thousands, in the pool. Assuming that your resume is perfection redefined and you’ve nailed your cover letter, then you might get the opportunity to interview. You likely will be among at least a dozen candidates that get a first interview screening. Your goal is to get to the second interview and having a great sticky message plays a key part. A great sticky message helps you stand out from the crowd.
Most college campuses hold career fairs where a host of companies come and interview dozens and dozens of students over the course of several hours. As an interviewer, you are hard pressed to remember the names and faces of most of the young women and men that you meet. Only the most talented and most remarkable stand out. Let me share a story to highlight a great sticky message.
About six months ago I volunteered at a mock interview day my college hosted, interviewing students interested in pursuing careers in finance and management consulting. In every interview, my first question was “so tell me about yourself”. Usually, I got generic, unmemorable statements so I would dig deeper. I had one young woman whom I asked as a follow up: “what is unique about you, that I’ll likely remember for some time, that is not on your resume and that I would not guess from looking at you.” She told me that she rode rodeo. She had gone to a private school where they were required to learn how to ride horses and that evolved into riding rodeo. She had a great sticky message but hadn’t yet realized it. The skills required to be a great rodeo rider are equally applicable in the job market: courage, calm under pressure, quick thinking, the ability to adapt as circumstances warrant.
And so, Rodeo Girl was born. I sure hope she since has listed “rodeo riding” on her resume. It’s a great sticky message.