New Grad: Why should they hire you?

New Grad: Why should they hire you?

If you can learn how to state your value proposition to find a job, you stand a better chance of being picked as the perfect candidate.


I recently worked with a very accomplished Division 1 athlete on building a resume. She was befuddled trying to understand how being an athlete was going to have any value to an employer whatsoever.

Another student organized a fundraiser for disadvantaged teens. One student had run, and profited from, an eBay store for nearly 10 years. All unsure of what they had to offer.


Do you ever doubt what value you could possibly offer an employer?

Many college students and new grads are challenged by the idea of presenting a “value proposition” to employers. You may be among them.

If so, I want to show you some techniques to get past the “I don’t have a lot of work experience” comment, and focus on where you DO have experience that translates into something valuable to the employer.


First, let’s start with why this can be such a hard concept for grads. Here’s three reasons I see pretty consistently:

1. You equate “value” with “job,” and you tend to minimize experience that didn’t come with a paycheck.

2. You don’t have a fundamental level of self-awareness that it takes to identify your personal qualities and translate them into “value.”

3. In school, you don’t really get a lot of practice in promoting your value. Your job in school is to learn about stuff, and then demonstrate that you’ve learned it. These are very different attributes from the self-promotion and marketing business you are now going into.

The good news is learning to present and market yourself is a skill. And, you can learn it.

The skill you must learn is how to take your life experiences, whatever they may be, and learn to translate them.

Many will say, “hey, I’m just a student employee, that’s not real work experience.” Or, “I was a student athlete, that’s not like a real job.” Or, “I ran an eBay store, but it’s not like I worked for anyone.” These statements all discount valuable transferable skills you may actually possess!

Here are some steps you can take to get to the root of what YOU have to offer.


Create your own Value Inventory.

Get out a sheet of paper and create two columns.


1. Look at everything you’ve done and list it out on the left hand side of your column.

This could include:

Volunteer work, student job, mowing lawns, baby sitting, eBay store, scouting, athlete, fraternity/sorority leader, club participation, part time or summer jobs, academic projects, group projects, internships, working in a family business for which you did/did not get paid, starting something, writing, social media. Basically anything.

Too often I see students think in very tactical terms, just in terms of the task they have completed. So now take it up to the 500 foot level, and see how that task translates into skills and competencies.


2. On the right hand side of the column, list out what work you needed to accomplish.

What did you do to complete your tasks in these experiences you have had? List these on the right hand side of the page.  For example:

  • Showed up on time each day
  • Took care of another person
  • Dealt with money
  • Dealt with customers
  • Kept financial records
  • Dealt with angry customers
  • Led meetings
  • Needed to be responsive to customers
  • Started something to help others
  • Played on athletic team


3. Now, attach some kind of skill, quality or competency to what you did.

  • Showed up on time (initiative, responsibility, self-managing)
  • Took care of another person  (responsibility, decision making, judgment, trustworthy)
  • Dealt with money (trustworthy, financial acumen, responsible, judgment)
  • Dealt with customers (customer oriented, judgment, representing the brand/company professionally)
  • Kept financial records (financial acumen, accounting skills, trustworthy, judgment)
  • Dealt with angry customers (customer oriented, service oriented, problem solver, representing the brand/company professionally)
  • Led meetings (organization skills, leadership, meeting facilitation, self-confidence, influencing others)
  • Needed to be responsive to customers, e.g. eBay store  (service-oriented, self-motivated, initiative, entrepreneurial)
  • Started something to help others (organization, leadership, coordinating and executing to a plan, influencing others, time management, proactive)
  • Played on athletic team (team player, set and achieve goals as individual and team, disciplined, self-managing, team before self, time-management, commitment)

Now these are just first blush examples, but as you look through your own experience you will surely find many ways to identify the evidence that you will bring value to an employer.


Making sense?

Now, as you are researching jobs and internships, notice what employers are looking for. Then, see how you can fashion benefit statements based on what you have to offer.

Here’s why it’s really important to understand how you add value:

The ONLY reason an organization – any kind of organization – will hire you  is because you will help them solve their business problems. When you can articulate your ability to add value to help them solve those problems, as it aligns with the talent they are looking for, you stand a better chance of being picked as the perfect candidate!


Now, create your own Value Inventory and then leave a comment below and let me know what you discovered! Then, SHARE this post with your Tweeps or Facebook friends who need to know!

Posted in: Blog, Interview, Job search, Resume, Your Job Search

Leave a Comment: (8) →


  1. Zachary Witherspoon November 15, 2012


    This is exactly the information I was looking for. I have been out of college for two years still working the same job I had while in school. I believe my interviewing skills need to be tweaked to the way you described it hear. I know I have the skills a majority of employers are looking for, but find it extremely difficult to express these transferable skills into statements I can make in an interview. This is something I am currently working on. Thanks for the advice!


    Zachary Witherspoon

    • Lea McLeod November 15, 2012

      Hi Zachary,
      Thanks much for the comment and I am so glad this was helpful to you! In working with many students and recent grads, I think it is one of the big sticking points for moving forward in the job search. It’s a new skill for you but you can and will become more competent in it.

      If you have other questions go ahead and post them on the facebook page! I also invite you to connect with me on LinkedIn if we are not already connected!
      Thanks again, and much success as you go forward – I want to see you be successful!

      Warm regards,


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