So what?

To get a job, it's all about sell, sell, sell -- the product being yourself and your skills. But author Mark Magnacca says that philosophy only goes so far. His soon-to-be-released book, "So What? How to Communicate What Really Matters to Your Audience" makes the point that the sales pitch needs to be made with the customer in mind. For someone laid off, the customer, obviously, is the potential employer.

Think of it this way: You say that you are a great communicator, or an excellent computer whiz. That's nice. But it is also like saying, "I have a terrific BMW sports coupe for sale." So what? The buyer wants a vehicle capable of schlepping the Cub Scout patrol back from the soap box derby. How many Cub Scouts can fit in a sports coupe? Maybe you can tie them on the trunk using a series of square knots (that way they can practice for their merit badges.) 

Magnacca says employers don't really care about what you can bring to the table. They want their needs met, period. Unfortunately, it is sooooo not about you.

Magnacca suggests making sure you frame your skills so you can answer the "so what" question on your resume or during your interview. What does the company need? How can you fill that need. Don't be the BMW when the Dodge Caravan is what's needed. Or vice versa, don't offer up the Caravan when the employer needs the BMW. Applying that lens to your skills will focus your efforts, he says. 

By the way, the same philosophy is applicable to the self-employed (whether by choice or necessity). When trying to land new business, answer the so what question, Magnacca says.