[The following is the April 2011 Park University Career Column.]
Park University April 2011
Do you have any idea how much work it takes to create a title for a book? A job-search book no less!
I hated the title of my first book (Really Useful Job Search Tactics); I’m not fond of the title of my current book (The Real Secret to Finding a Job? Make Me Money or Save Me Money!) so I thought I had really come up with a beauty of a name for my new book when just about everyone I know informed me how bad it was. Arrrrgh!
So I’m going to give you the title my next book would have been but won’t: “The Second Shoe Interview.” Well, I liked it but as I have already mentioned I got shot down simply because the title would require extensive branding and nobody knows who I am as it is! So why “Second Shoe Interview” and what has that got to do with job search and this column?
I sometimes tell a story in my presentation about the sales guy who persisted over several years to get an appointment with a corporate buyer. Regardless of how hard he tried he could not get this woman to make the time to see him. Based in New York City she was a genuine “Master of the Universe” in the cosmetics industry and had enough clout to make or break a company.
Sales Guy (yes, it was a man and his gender is important to the story) managed to get through to the gatekeeper who, after all his years of trying came to appreciate his persistence and obtain our Master’s shoe size. Yes, shoe size!
Knowing this information Sales Guy then went out and purchased a pair of $1000 Jimmy Choo shoes in Master’s size. (For those of you who don’t know Jimmy Choo know that a pair of Jimmy Choo shoes runs $500 to $1500—per pair! And yes, I had to look that one up myself.)
Sales Guy then had ONE shoe delivered to Master of the Universe with a note attached stating that he would bring the SECOND shoe to their introductory appointment. (“Second Shoe Interview”…now do you get it?)
You can see how the story ends: he got the appointment, landed the account and went on to live happily ever after.
What has all this got to do with job search? Everything! It’s a brutal competitive world out there and regardless of the position you are seeking (or thinking about seeking) you must be 1) creative in your outreach and 2) able to express your value to an organization.
Sales guy creatively landed the appointment which, by the way, is the only purpose your resume serves. He then landed the account NOT because of his creativity but because he was able to express the value he would bring to the cosmetic company and to the buyer specifically.
What value are you prepared to discuss with your potential next employer?
Can you unequivocally state how you will make money or save money for the company? Assuming you do not generate revenue in your position can you clearly state how you will add value or save time?
I have a non-negotiable rule when working with individuals: my clients are required to create an Accomplishments Worksheet prior to even thinking about drafting a resume. This exercise is, admittedly, the “heavy lifting” part of the process. I require a minimum of 10 items (with no maximum) on this list. I ask for an accounting from personal memory of all the times they might have had a positive impact on an organization. Next I ask them to contact family, friends, professors, clergy, co-workers, former supervisors, etc. to ask them what comes to mind when those people think of the impact my client had on their organization or team. Accomplishments are not restricted to work only but include athletic, military, volunteer, charity, religious and academic organizations—anywhere that an impact was felt.
Your accomplishments MUST have a beginning, a middle, and an end. For example: “I created a filing system that resulted in 300 man-hours saved per month.”
Beginning: I created a filing system
Middle: that resulted in
End: 300 man-hours per month.
THIS is the filing clerk I want to hire!
Note that you can probably take every item listed, every bullet point in your current resume, remove the period at the end of the sentence, add “resulting in” and complete the sentence. Taking this single action, I promise, will professionally enhance your resume.
First—it’s OK to be creative to get the attention of the powers-that-be in the company you might want to work with. By not trying you already have a “No.” What have you got to lose?
Second—following the success of your creative approach be prepared to address how you will be adding value to the organization. Really spend time and focus on this. Personally I’m sick of resumes that state “I am seeking a rewarding and challenging career.” It’s not about you. It’s about them. Express your value and get the offer!
BTW, I have (once again) settled on the title of my next book. Stick around I’ll bring it to the discussion when the new manuscript is completed in the next several weeks.