When I like your resume enough to pull you out of our database and we’ve arranged a time to talk on the phone, I hope you’ll to be prepared to talk to me. When I ask you to “tell me about yourself,” I hope you’ll be ready for the question. There should not be a long, uncomfortable silence from you when I ask this.
When you get on the phone during the recruiting process, you need be able to concisely state what you are, what you do, why you do it, and how you have been doing it (preferably without jargon and hopefully with some sense of style and/or humor). If you were in Hollywood this would be called “making your pitch.“ Please be consise, so I don’t have to interupt to ask clarifying questions.
I suggest that you figure out your “elevator pitch” somewhere between writing your resume and submitting for jobs. In fact, do it before you write your resume so you have a clearer idea of how you are targeting yourself (and so you can edit the 13 page resume down to 3 really relevant pages). At the same time, make sure your LinkedIn profile, Twitter Bio, and your “about me” pages reinforce the way you are trying to market yourself. Once you’ve gotten some ideas about who you are, write it down and practice it. Test it on people and get feedback. Call your grandma and tell her what you do. Unless your granny was Grace Hopper, you will need to be able to explain your skills and experience in a clear jargon-free way and this is precisely your goal. (Why jargon free? Because experience has taught me that if you can’t tell me what you did without jargon then probably won’t interact well with non-technical stakeholders you may have to interact with, if we do hire you.)
Once you’ve done that, you will be able to respond when I say “tell me about yourself.” So help me help you – work on your elevator pitch today since you never know when you might be asked to “tell me about yourself.”