With work and hiring practices changing so quickly, is it any wonder that more and more people are feeling out of touch with what companies are looking for?
Maybe you’ve spent many years in a comfortable position, but now the situation’s changed and you realize an easy replacement for this job simply isn’t out there. Now what?
Or maybe you wish to enter a completely new industry….but have no idea how to parlay your prior experience effectively.
Or maybe you’re just freaked out by spending a LITTLE too much time reading job postings and seeing the laundry list of “preferred skills” companies are asking for when hiring people who have the exact same job title as you.
Here are 3 questions you can ask yourself that will help you find the best way forward:
1) Should I Run on the Inside or the Outside Track?
The days of only “company men” advancing quickly in their careers is officially over. There’s a real hunger for fresh perspectives, people who are “outsiders” that can bring something new to the table. That’s an excellent direction to go if you’re worried about an emerging skills gap between you and your competition.
Let’s say a Hospitality company is hiring for a new Sales and Business Development executive. They put a call out, and of course, will immediately receive applications from many talented Sales and Biz Dev professionals within the industry. Some of them may even be “lifers” in the industry and have spent their entire career in Hospitality.
Now imagine that you’re a gifted Sales and Business Development leader who hails from the Internet industry. Will positioning yourself to go toe-to-toe with a Hospitality lifer work out well for you? Of course not. You’re going to get crushed with questions that will make you seem out of your depth.
So what if, instead of taking an “inside” track, you were to take that of an outsider? Boldly promote yourself as someone who can spark transformative change in how Hospitality organizations approach Sales and Business Development BECAUSE of your unique Internet industry background (not despite it). Highlight the major PAIN POINTS you can solve within your resume. Build bridges with key decision makers using LinkedIn and get conversations started from the POV of what you, and only you, can do. Not only will this approach help you go up against people with more linear career histories, but it can also help you CREATE new positions at companies (it happens all the time).
Just remember: if you’re going on the inside track, go DEEP with the details in your career platform (especially within the Resume and LinkedIn). If you’re going on the outside track, go BOLD with how you present yourself, and focus on promoting UNIQUE VALUE-ADDS in your platform.
2) How Sharp Is My Platform?
A warning to the people with novel-length resumes and LinkedIn profiles: you may just be writing yourself OUT of opportunities.
Think of the content you put out there as your OFFENSE, and what you choose to leave off as your DEFENSE. You need both for an effective platform.
Let’s say I’m a hiring manager who’s come across your LinkedIn Profile. One of the first things I’m going to do is scan the content to see if you match the key criteria I’m looking for in the position I need to fill. If I can quickly pick these out, then I feel much more secure in your credibility as a candidate, and might even drop you a quick note to set something up. However, if what I see is paragraph after paragraph of details that simply are not pertinent at this stage, then I’m either going to assume you’re a jack-of-all-trades, master of none (BAD) or I’m going to spot a piece of experience or a potential red flag that’ll make me preemptively pass on you (WORSE).
Here’s how to address this:
–Develop a shortlist of highly visible competitors who have the role you want. In other words, if I’m after a Chief Information Officer Role within the Information Services industry, I will have a list of LinkedIn URLS of people who currently have this role. They will serve as a kind of “compass” for my platform, making sure I never stray too far from what I know is effective.
-Make everything outcomes-focused. What are the 3 big problems you can solve? What are the 3 marquee accomplishments at your last job, and how can they be used at your next one? Place the focus entirely on what they’re looking for, and what you can do for them (not what you want) and you’ll naturally avoid going down the over-explaining rabbit hole.
3) What’s My Activity Level?
It’s impossible to be “out of touch” and “in touch” at the same time. Once you’ve made some progress in figuring out the right approach and sharpening up that platform, it’s time to get some real-world insights. Start systematically reaching out to your most trusted connections within your targeted industry (or industries) and pick their brain about what’s going on. Share your goals when appropriate. Start tracking the number of emails and phone calls you’re making that are SOLELY in the service of advancing your career or improving your career prospects. This will give you precious insights into where to take things next. Remember: a high activity level can cover up a huge number of mistakes and errors. A low activity level AMPLIFIES every mistake and error.