To Be Relevant, Convert Features into Benefits

Good sales people know the difference between features and benefits. Knowing the difference often separates those who make the sale from those who concede defeat to a competitor.

Likewise, effective job seekers know the difference. Sadly, though, most people looking for a job focus only on their features when they should be talking about the benefits they offer.

So what’s the crucial difference?

  1. Features Tell. Features are the plain facts, the list of items on your resume that describe you. Features are bits of basic information about who you are—your previous job titles, the responsibilities you carried and the education or training you received.
  2. Benefits Sell. Benefits are features that have been converted into relevant information. They describe why a feature is important.

To convert a feature into a benefit, begin by asking So what? For each feature, ask: So what? Why is this information important? How is it relevant? Why should anyone care about that?

Converting a feature into a benefit can seem overwhelming, but it’s simply reframing a conversation so you are talking from the perspective of an employer.

Never throw out a feature and then leave it to a prospective employer to make the right assumptions about why it is important. You must describe how the feature will actually benefit him or her. As you’re talking about benefits, you’re actually making promises. In effect, you are telling a prospective employer, “Here what I can do for you.” That gets attention.

Think about how you are selling yourself. Do you consciously convert features into benefits?

While your resume probably focuses more on features, your cover letter provides an opportunity to bring to life the benefits of your personal brand.

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These ideas on personal branding were originally presented during two workshops I conducted for the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance. The sessions were attended by current and aspiring nonprofit leaders who came from across the nation for the annual Alliance Management/Leadership Institute, the nation’s largest leadership development and networking symposium for students, faculty and nonprofit professionals. —DH

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