Coburg Banks | Multi-sector UK recruitment agency

8 Tips For Developing A Killer Personal USP (That’ll Get You the Job You Deserve!)

By James Ball | Jul 28, 2015 | Candidate Tips

“You get fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less — or it’s free.” Domino’s Pizza

“When your package absolutely, positively has to get there overnight.” Fedex

“The King of Pop.” Michael Jackson

Do you recognise these quotes? You should.

They’re only three of the most famous USPs EVER…

(Click here to discover some more world-class examples.)

But what have they got to do with you? And a recruitment blog, for that matter..?

What is a USP?

“Unique Selling Proposition” (or point) is a marketing term, used to describe the feature that makes a product, service, business or person different.

It’s all about showcasing exactly why someone should buy (or buy into) something, right now (perhaps it’s bigger or smaller, quicker or lasts longer).

Why should this be important to you – as a job seeker?  

Well – what are CVs, cover letters and interviews if not cleverly-crafted advertisements and sales pitches?

Recruiter Pro Tip

Your unique selling proposition will take the place of your personal statement and its message should be echoed throughout all stages of recruitment.

The main thing to remember is that it focuses on the unique value you can bring to your potential employer’s table, rather than the clichés and common attributes that everyone else will claim to possess.

So – what’s your USP?

Below, you’ll find 8 recruiter insider tips to developing a killer USP and getting the job you deserve.

1. Identifying Your USP.

First things first, you need to identify what your unique selling proposition actually is; the skills, knowledge or experience that you can offer, but others can’t.

To make it easier, write down a list of…

  • ALL of your skills. What are you good at? Inside and outside of work.
  • What you’ve learned. Have you taken any specific courses? Been trained by professionals? Learnt on the job?
  • ALL of your experience. List all of the jobs you’ve had in the past, including part-time and voluntary positions.

Using all of the above take a step back and look at the list you’ve created.

What skills, experiences and knowledge fields stand out?

Which ones are unique to you (or difficult to find)?

If you can’t find one unique thing that shines through, perhaps you can find a unique and uncommon combination of things?

2. Tailor Your USP.

Once you’ve decided what skills you think differentiate you from others, it’s time to tailor your USP to the job you’re applying for.

Then cross reference them against all of the requirements outlined in the job description.

If any match, use them as the focus of that application (mention them on your cover letter, CV and in the interview).

You Should Consider the Following…

  • What are the company’s values, ethics and culture? You want to portray yourself as someone who’d fit in well.
  • Which skills, knowledge and experience would be relevant to the industry? Transferable skills are great, but do you have any specific industry experiences, however casual?
  • What about the position? Which skills are essential and which are desirable?

It’s really important to consider everything about the company so that you don’t mix up your message.

There’s no point boasting about your ruthless sales ability if you’re applying for an irrelevant admin job.

3. Focus on the Benefits.

Put simply, employers want to know one thing about their job candidates: how will you benefit them?

  • How much money will you bring in? 
  • What will your return on investment be?
  • Are you worth the time, hassle and money?

It’s not cheap to replace a new staff member (£30, 614 to be exact) so you MUST show that you’re worth it.

Instead of claiming ‘I can do X, Y and Z’ you should focus on what that means for the employer; ‘I can do X, Y and Z which means that I’ll save you time, money and effort’.

4. Prove It.

Which product would you buy? The tried, tested and proven to be successful or the unknown prototype?

Recruiters love facts and figures and if you can include them in your applications, then you’re guaranteed to build trust in what you have to offer.

Recruiter Pro Tip.

Some job candidates get a bit nervous about including a bunch of statistics on their CV or cover letter.

They feel that it’s a little too early in the process to start bragging and decide to leave all the great stuff out until the interview.

Don’t. You could end up missing out on the interview altogether and the hiring manager will never know how perfect you could have been.

Numbers section of a CV, showing stats of different skill setsIf you implemented something at a previous workplace that streamlined their processes and saved your entire office 3 hours of paperwork a day, brag about it.

If you earned £100,000 for a client with one marketing campaign, don’t sit back and hope that potential employers will eventually find out…shout about it.

5. Show Some Personality.

Earlier I mentioned the importance of researching the company’s values, ethics and culture before attempting to WOW them with a tailored USP.

Bearing this in mind, it’s also really important to add a touch of personality!

Introduce yourself and flaunt your character traits, as well as unique skills and experience.

This is obviously easier in the interview as they’ll get a first-hand impression of your personality and passion – but it’s important to consider it on your CV and cover letter too.

You don’t want your entire application to fall flat due to a lack of enthusiasm or character.

6. Keep it Short and Sweet.

It’s good to think of your USP as a headline.

Simply sum up, as quickly as possible, just how perfect you are for the job (don’t go on and on and on).

We recommend 2 – 3 sentences (spoken and written).

7. Be Honest.

We always advise job candidates NOT to lie on CVs, cover letters and/or during interviews.

At some point, somewhere down the line, someone will notice…

Because recruiters like to dig…

  • Anchorman saying 'I don't believe you'“Can you explain a time when you exhibited this skill?”
  • “So, why exactly do you call yourself the ‘best marketer in your agency’?”
  • “You say you won the employee of the month 3 times, but your boss has no record of it…”

We’ve come across candidates who’ve faked an entire degree on their CV.

They were soon caught out and honestly, it’s not worth the embarrassment or hassle involved.

8. Keep the Message Consistent.

Now, there’s one last, ultra important thing to remember.

You must keep your message clear and consistent.

Throughout your CV, cover letter and interview, you should keep showcasing your unique selling point/s.

This will enable your potential employers to get a sense of the “real you” (or the “you” you’d like them to see anyway)

Shifting your focus from “innovative digital marketer” to “specialist PR expert” may seem a little odd and suspicious.


Good luck with your fantastically compelling USP.

Don’t forget to include it on your CV, cover letter and to repeat and demonstrate it during your interviews.

Recruiter Pro Tip.

As you can imagine, we’ve dealt with a great many CVs, cover letters and interviews in our time and we’re pretty used to seeing things like ‘Dynamic, passionate individual, looking for a career in X, Y and Z’ – but to be honest, that really doesn’t tell us anything.

The applicants that shine through WILL have a USP of some sort, that…

  • Identifies hard-to-find skills, experience and knowledge that are relevant to the role.
  • Permeates with passion and personality (without saying the words’I am passionate’).
  • Is short, snappy and easy to digest.
  • Offers proof of their claims.
  • Portrays a message that correlates with the rest of their application.

It’s not about being the best – it’s about “showcasing your individualised skill sets that distinguish you from your peers.”

So – what makes you so special?

- James Ball

James Ball

James is the founder and owner of Coburg Banks and a recruitment expert from Sutton Coldfield in the UK.  He regularly advises companies on how to improve and get the maximum ROI from their recruitment processes.

> More blog posts by James Ball

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