The single biggest mistake job seekers make is approaching the hiring process from the POV of an Employee.
Until the moment you accept an offer, consider this is a meeting between EQUALS to see if there’s a mutual fit.
Equals can walk away from the negotiating table at any time, no strings attached.
Employees feel obligated to jump through hoops.
Here’s how to stop this from occurring:
Give Your Resume a Competitive Edge
Ever hear the quote “Give me 6 hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first 4 sharpening the ax”?
If you’re spending time in interviews defending a perceived lack of experience or proper match-up with the role on your resume, chances are your ax needs sharpening! And in this case, sharpening means getting CRYSTAL CLEAR about who your competition is, and what employers hold MOST VALUABLE.
Let’s say you’re after a CFO role. The first stop should be executing a “deep dive” on LinkedIn to develop a shortlist of competitors who currently have this role at companies you’re interested in. What are the qualities that are consistently being highlighted by these people? What skills are they most endorsed for (that you possess)?
Now compare and contrast your findings with relevant job postings to gain a fully-rounded portrait. Here’s a sample breakdown of key findings:
Employers Looking For:
- CFOs with extensive cross-functional and cross-cultural experience.
- Strong background in accounting, treasury, and structured finance.
- Exposure to investor relations and M&As.
- Demonstrated history of delivering high-impact results on P&Ls and stock prices
My Competition is Strong in the Following Areas:
- Strategic Finance
- Internal Controls
- Executive Management
- Cost Management
- Capital Budgeting
- Portfolio Management
- Long-Term Business Planning
- Competitive Analysis
- Process Improvement
- Revenue Enhancement
These findings should form the heart of your resume. For example, you can use the “Employers Looking For” section to create a powerful opening section that immediately highlights your skills in this area (and backs it up within the “Professional Experience” section as well). You can use the “Competition is Strong in the Following Areas” section to develop a targeted keyword section that will help you pass ATS scanning and offer a great “broad strokes” overview of your skills.
Do this and your resume will be stronger than nearly all of your competitors!
Add Strong Culture Fit into the Mix
Did you know that a recent Beyond.com survey found that over 40% of hiring managers ranked “culture fit” as THE most important quality a candidate needs to be offered the job?
If that’s the case, then why are most professionals sending over a dry resume and cover letter that never once touches on this topic?
Here’s a tip: trash the cover letter and create a Value Proposition Letter instead, one that powerfully answers the questions, “Why You, Why this Company, and Why Now?
Here are some questions that will help you construct the letter:
–What unique perspective do I bring to my work? Think about value adds, skills and experiences that add COLOR and CONTEXT.
–What values do I share with the company? Check out sites like Ivy Exec’s Company Rankings and Glassdoor.com to read honest reviews from employees, as well as social media to get an up-to-the-minute view of what a company truly holds dear. Now explicitly mention this commonality within the letter.
–What recent career highlights would help to quickly establish credibility? Mention them in a few tight bullets.
–What soft skills would be important for them to know about me? It’s difficult to communicate these types of skills within the Resume, but much easier within a VP Letter.
Bottom-line: it’s way easier to reject someone based solely on qualifications, versus someone who comes across as a “member of the tribe.” In fact, companies CREATE positions for the latter all the time.
Be Ruthless About Sticking to Time Limits
Let’s say you’re contacted about a 15-minute phone screen. Set a timer before the call, and NO MATTER WHAT say your goodbyes at the 15-minute mark. Same principle applies for longer interviews. Giving up free time DOES NOT increase the chances of your landing a job. All it does is tell an employer that you’re willing to make compromises- and that never results in competitive offers.
Use the C-A-R Formula to Frame Answers
Nothing undercuts your position quite like rambling answers. Safeguard against them by using the following formula when answering interview questions:
-What was the main CHALLENGE I faced?
-What ACTION(S) did I take to address it?
-What was the END RESULT of my actions?
Using this formula will help you come across as polished and consistent- both very good things!
Call out the Elephant in the Room
True confidence is about being honest, not playing games. As an interview’s wrapping up, take a moment to ask the following:
“Is there anything we’ve talked about, or anything in my background or qualifications, that gives you pause about advancing me to the next stage?”
Listen closely to the answer, and respond thoughtfully. You can even send a detailed follow-up message within a day or two of the interview addressing the points which were brought up. An amazing way to nip problems in the bud!
Also read: The Bravest Interview Question