Updated: Oct 8
Anyone who's worked in sales will know the phrase:
“Don’t sell the steak, sell the sizzle”
It's from the American sales guru Elmer Wheeler, in his 1947 book “How to Sell Yourself to Others”.
In short, it means “don’t sell the product, sell the experience”.
The steak is a good analogy for this. In and of itself it's just a raw piece of cold red meat. But pop it on a grill with some onions & garlic and people will pay multiples of its raw market value to have it. Don’t sell the steak, sell the sizzle.
The principle can be used in many contexts:
Don’t sell the car, sell the prestige
Don’t sell the holiday, sell the memories
Don’t sell the insurance, sell the security
Makes sense, right?
Now, you may ask, what in the wide world of culinary analogies does this have to do with your CV? Well, getting a new job IS sales. Understanding how to sell yourself IS crucial. Understanding your sizzle can be the difference between getting an interview or getting ignored.
So what’s the steak?
Easy; it’s your skills and experiences. It’s the list of things most people put in bullet points in their CV, like:
I have 8 years experience working in supply chain management
Responsible for management of the manufacturing team
Production of quarterly management reports
Contributed to the development of several new products
All of these things (I'd hope) are factually accurate, representative of your experience and... of very little use! Why? Because they're seldom, if ever, unique to you. There will always be other people selling the same steak to every job you go for.
Now, to be clear, the steak is important. But seldom will you be invited to interview, on the steak alone.
The whole purpose of your CV is to maximise the chances of YOU getting invited to interview. NOT simply to land you in a category of people who could potentially get to interview.
So what are the unique things you can add?
What’s your sizzle?
It’s the quantifiable, measurable value that your skills and experience adds.
Which of these would you invite to interview?
"I have 8 years experience working in supply chain management"
"I have 8 years experience working in supply chain management, and have successfully reduced supplier costs by 18% in the last 12 months, saving my current employer £203k"
Pretty easy, right? The second example adds context, and importantly, precise value to the experience. Be as precise as possible!
Some other sizzling examples...
Responsible for management of the manufacturing team, where production has increased by 14% resulting in increased revenue of £743k, under my leadership.
Production of quarterly management reports, and the creation and implementation of actionable improvement plans to increase revenues and reduce costs.
Contributed to the development of several new products, including the ABC Widget and the XYZ Switch, which are now in full production and have added sales of £2.24m to the business.
In every hiring decision, the employer must consider the value you will bring. Usually this is only ever one of two things:
How much money will you make?
How much money will you save?
You might do both – and in most jobs you certainly can! - but if you don’t do either it’s going to be tough getting he job (or staying in one!).
Understanding how your duties and actions have impacted on the bottom line, and selling that value will put you at a great advantage relative to the vast majority of job-seekers.
So go ahead. Add some sizzle to the experiences in your CV. And don’t stop there. What about your social media profiles? How do you explain your experience to recruiters? How do you describe yourself in an interview? All of these things NEED the sizzle.
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You can help yourself to a host of Free Resources right here, including a CV Writing guide, as well as Personal Profile and Cover Letter templates.
Happy hunting and get in touch anytime if we can help in any way!