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How to Sell Yourself for More Money with the Briefcase Technique

If you don't know how to sell yourself in a job interview or performance review, you're leaving money on the table. Use this technique to start earning more

Ramit Sethi

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Here’s something we were never taught in school: Success comes from knowing how to sell yourself.

Yes, skills matter. But arguably, what matters more — especially when we’re talking about making money — is the ability to sell ourselves.

In our life we need to:

I’m going to show you the exact technique thousands of my students have used to sell themselves and collectively earn millions of dollars in salary and freelance negotiations.

Here’s how it works:

As a business owner, when I’m considering hiring someone, I’ll talk to them about the business, hear their thoughts and generally get a feel for their skills and their personality. If I think there’s a possible fit, I’ll ask them about pricing or salary expectations.

Most candidates will tell me about their previous accomplishments and background to convince me of the value they bring to the table.

But a select few do something different. They pull out a document with things they’ve found in my business that they can improve…and details on exactly how to do it.

As the business owner or hiring manager, this document is the most compelling menu I’ll ever receive. It’s a list of problems I already know about, that they’ve identified from the outside, and a list of potential solutions.

Do this and you’ve suddenly separated yourself from 99% of other applicants.

This strategy works for landing new clients, applying for jobs — even for crushing performance reviews.

It’s easy to tell your boss you’ve done great work and that you plan on asking for more responsibilities and pay in your next review. But when you actually prove it — and explain how your work has and will continue to translate into more profit or savings for the company — you’ll instantly grab your boss’s attention.

The secret to selling yourself is SHOW, DON’T TELL.

This is called the Briefcase Technique. Here’s how you can use it to increase your salary right away.

Here are the 3 steps to prepare your briefcase.

Step 1: Gather the evidence you are worth more

NOTE: This is if you’re already working at the company or with a client. Skip this step if it’s an interview or first meeting.

You’ll want to take an inventory of all you’ve done for your company.

Get detailed here and list all the ways you’ve become more valuable to the company since you started your job.

Some sample questions to get you started:

  • Have you delivered specific results? Which ones? Estimate how much they were worth.
  • Has your communication improved? How so?
  • Are you more efficient than before? How do you know?
  • Do you know the business better? How does this translate to the company’s bottom line?
  • Have you developed new skills? What kind?

Keep digging until you’ve listed everything out.

Step 2: Look to the future

Brainstorm ways you could add value above and beyond what you’ve already done.

Some sample ideas:

  • Maybe there’s a project you could lead?
  • Maybe you’ve got an idea for a system that could streamline communication?
  • Maybe you’re willing to get additional training and certifications to take on more responsibilities?
  • Create a specific plan for how you can solve problems in their company
  • Or any other ideas you have that could help your employer or client out

These are the things you’ll SHOW — not tell — your boss or client so they KNOW you are someone who delivers real results.

Step 3: Avoid these mistakes when selling yourself in the interview

The difference between being an excellent (but replaceable) candidate and a top performer on a fast-track career or with a successful business is that top performers are good at finding and landing jobs and clients.

Knowing how to sell yourself in an interview is a key part of that.

Learn how to avoid the three biggest mistakes when selling yourself and you’ll set yourself apart from the vast majority of candidates.

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The 3 biggest interviewing mistakes (and how to avoid them)

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