First, don’t think conventionally. As I’ve said before, you need to put yourself in the mindset that you’re not interviewing for a job – you’re meeting with a client to see if you’re the right solution for a challenge or problem they’re trying to solve. No jobs anymore, only problems that need solving. Obviously this is not entirely true, however, in more cases than not today, our clients are hiring people to solve serious problems and take advantage of opportunities at their companies, rather than just filling a spot. This is definitely true at the senior executive levels.
If you believe the above paragraph, how are you going above and beyond to differentiate yourself as a solution to their problem? Are you writing a Special Report, or visiting their locations and seeing their product in use? If you’re a CEO, VP Sales, or VP Marketing candidate, clients will often ask you to do a brief business plan to solve a certain problem, so they can see how you think. If you’re not asked for this, or before you are asked, why wouldn’t you just do it anyway?
In our business, 2008 and 2009 became much more competitive as the number of retained searches being engaged dropped significantly. We found we needed to do more than just the typical process to win business, and the normal search project management during the engagement. We started spec’ing some research up front, and in some cases, walking into an opportunity with a list of good target prospect companies to recruit from, and even the people doing the job in those companies. In some cases, we’ve even gone in with resumes of potential candidates before we’ve been retained, to help us make the case that we truly are connected in our client’s industry and even have some targets that we’ve identified before we were awarded the business. The stronger your case for being the right person to hire, the more likely you are to be hired.
What is a Special Report? John Hall ran an outplacement firm in Orange County for many years, and taught his clients (candidates) the concept of a Special Report. I might not do it justice (if anyone out there can add more color to this, please do) but in essence, it’s a report on a particular industry that might be 3 pages or so, and then a report on a particular company in that industry that might be 1-2 pages. The industry section can be used for every company in that industry if you’re targeting a particular sector for your next opportunity, and the company section is customized for each company that you plan on presenting your report. I’ve heard of people doing reports on a sector, say wireless networking, and then sending a copy to the President of each target company in that industry to gain their interest in having a conversation. In this way, the candidate presents themselves as an industry expert, and without being too demonstrative on what a company may be doing right or wrong, can make some statements about how they appear to be competing in the industry. Leave yourself some wiggle room so you don’t talk yourself into a corner and so you don’t offend the President with your comments about their company. This also eliminates/reduces the risk that your resume will be discarded before being considered, so you can make the case that you’re the right star for their company, without worrying about the story your resume tells.
Click Here to see the elements of a Special Report (a special thanks to John Hall).
Click Here to see an example of a Special Report (a special thanks to Steven L’Heureux).
On a recent search, I had multiple candidates very interested in the opportunity; however only a few took the initiative to ask to see my client’s service offering in action. The others had to be told that they should do this and see what the company is really all about to their customers. We shouldn’t have to tell candidates this – they should already want to do this to become more knowledgeable.
If I told you your chances were 1 in 5 or 6 to receive $150-$300K, but you had to go beyond the norm in your job search process, wouldn’t you take that chance?
How have you gone above and beyond? Please share some of your stories here and the outcome, even if it wasn’t positive, so we can get the best ideas out to our readers.