Dear Coach Joan: Career Advice
Getting to the job offer can be a very competitive process. You are often competing against other good candidates. To get the offer, you need to be the stand-out candidate. You need to be not just good or better but best! How do you separate yourself from the other candidates and be the best?
If you are responding to job listings your resume is often in a pile, or file, of many. And if you are interviewing, you are probably up against others going through the interview process as well. Here are three somewhat unusual but proven strategies that have worked:
- BRING PROPS – Yes, bring a distinctive and relevant ‘something’ to the interview. Be creative and spark the curiosity and interest of the interviewer! One client, a recent college grad in aeronautical engineering did just that. He was a very shy and introverted young man. His GPA was impressive but he had trouble showing enthusiasm and passion. When he shared with me a couple of outstanding letters of recommendation by his professors I asked how he made such a positive impression. Seems he not only earned top grades but started a model airplane club where they constructed a model plane as a group, and he was the leader! Turns out he had quite interesting stories to tell around that experience and actually had a small model of the plane. I suggested he bring that plane to his interview and once the focus was that, he naturally lit up and told his interesting stories that reflected his relevant job skills. He landed the job. Can you think of a prop that you could bring along that would both peak the interest of the interviewer and conversation about your relevant and compelling skills?
- WRITE AN ARTICLE: Lately companies and organizations want to see what job candidates can actually do and produce. A cousin of mine is currently job seeking in Silicon Valley. She told me that as part of the interview process she was asked to analyze and write about three industry articles that they sent to her. Employers want to see your thinking and how your mind works. They are less inclined to believe glowing recommendations than to see your real-time capabilities directed to their subject matter. My recommendation is for you to proactively put your thoughts and ideas on paper about an interesting topic in your field. For instance, I had a client who is finance manager and he wrote an article on what he considered the key considerations a company needs to make when doing an acquisition, and specifically from the finance and accounting perspective. He knows that several of his target companies are in the acquision mode and his experience in that area will be compelling. The article he wrote actually got him in the door for interviews with key decision-makers at two of the companies was interested. He ultimately got a job offer from one of them. Interestingly, the article he wrote was shared with the finance team and he came in to the company with some positive recognition. Nice.
- SHOW YOUR INDUSTRY KNOWLEDGE: Yes, most people know to prepare some intelligent questions for an interview. They prepare questions about the job, the management style and company culture. All good. But why not go a step further and show that you are a big picture thinker; that you will be a real asset to the organization because you look at the larger environment that your prospective organization operates in. For instance, if you are applying for a job at a community non-profit, research the other local non profits and talk about them as well . Prepare some intelligent comments about your observations. Show your research and intelligence.
Yes, the job market can be very competitive. You need to do all you can to be the stand-out candidate. The above three strategies are all creative, proven and effective ways to show that you are the best candidate for the job. You don’t need to limit yourself to one of them. You can use all three if they are all relevant to your situation.
Onward to your career success as a stand-out candidate.
Let’s bring the best of you to work!!