As an excuse for failing at the competition for jobs, many candidates invent all manner of conspiracy theories or excuses in place of improving their understanding of the hiring and selection process. Don’t let that be you. Though confusing from the outside looking in, there is an underlying logic that when understood better can also better your outcomes. Learn to work the system to succeed. Here are some tactics that may help.
TACTIC ONE: Yes, the most important tactic! Don’t remain a stranger. Landing that job requires a certain amount of “in-your-face” stick-to-itness. This applies at all stages of the application, consideration, interview and even afterwards when you’ve landed the job and seek a promotion. If you are not top of mind, you don’t exist and likely won’t be considered as a truly viable candidate. When submitting a resume, or vying for a promotion, you need to have a game plan that will involve a decent amount of follow up actions POSSIBLY including a phone call, a methodology to leave a voice message, an interesting and welcoming way to send or leave an email, and so on. Now, there is an art to doing this. A good mentor or coach can help you with the sensitivities associated to this. Be sensitive, for sure. This tactic can quickly slip across the line from a strategy of keeping your name top of mind to one of harrassing or even stalking. So be careful. Use this technique judiciously.
TACTIC TWO: Be different, but don’t be strange. You and about 15,000 other candidates who are reading my post will be trying to implement tactic “one”, above. So you have to find a way to be different while doing that. Hiring managers or decision makers ar going to hate me for making tactic one so blatantly obvious. Recognize that the decision makers will be inundated with all manner of follow up from thousands of candidates. It is up to you to be innovative enough to implement tactic one without killing the proverbial golden goose…without becoming offensive and annoying considering that ALMOST everyone else will be doing the same thing. You have to be more pleasant at it, cleverer, much more innovative, and in a way that is more welcomed. How? Again, that is where it becomes an art when applying for positions. Almost every circumstance and company and decision maker is different and may require a slight adjustment to that tactic.
TACTIC THREE: Be the same but be different. By now you have learned of the STAR system for building your resume or for answering questions in interviews. [In case you have not, it recommends featuring yourself using the format of: Situation, Task, Action, Results.] That seems to make a lot of sense and for the majority of applicants this is an ideal methodology to follow. But throughout my entire career, I can never recall ANY DECISION MAKER who was more interested in the situation rather than the results. The analogy I hold in my mind is someone answering the question, “So, what did you do today?”, then answering, “I woke up, had a cup of coffee, brushed my teeth, took a shower….blah, blah…won a lottery worth two million dollars.” The only interesting part to the listener is the very last point. Same with resumes, interviews, and being considered for promotions. RESULTS are what matter most. In other words, take STAR and make it RATS. Start with an interesting way of telling, reminding, or making others aware of your results.
TACTIC FOUR: Be a team player, but stand apart. In tactic “three”, admittedly, you can never achieve any positive result without the help of others in your company. We know that. On the other hand, if it is “I did this…” or “I did that…”, you also lose attributed to ego and self-centeredness. Definitely talk about team effects and how team may have affected processes or strategies or whatever, but remember to find a way to position your particular contribution so your specific audience can appreciate your role in achieving the result. Keep it factual and don’t brag, but make your story a memorable one. This applies to resumes, interviews, and what I call “ADLICITY”–[I’ll write a future nugget on that in the near future.]
TACTIC FIVE: Be humble, but sufficiently demonstrate your assertiveness to get the job done. Be aware of how you present yourself.
TACTIC SIX: Be loyal to your boss and your company, but demonstrate that you can also succeed by working outside the box if required. No boss wants an employee who is constantly undermining him or her, or causing embarrassement and confrontation. On the other hand you have to do what is right for the company in such a manner as to avoid creating unnecessary conflict within your organization. Show how you have, or can, initiate positive change while benefitting the company, your supervisors and teams alike.
TACTIC SEVEN: Be a risk taker but not a gambler. During my career, I managed using the motto, “If it is good for the company…” But the efforts of my team, and myself, focused intensively on “evidence-based” data. Understand the difference between taking an educated risk and gambling Feature your risk taking carefully by being certain to clarify how it was based on assessments and not merely a wild-ass guess.
TACTIC EIGHT: Be a risk taker, not an egotist. In tactic “seven”, I suggested to delineate how the risk was warranted. In doing so, though, be careful that you are not speaking to a risk that was driven by ego and data that was selective to support the ego decision. Managerial ego is necessary but can be destructive at times. Do a search on this site for “Managerial Ego” and learn more about the difference between a decision to innovate versus a decision to satisfy one’s ego.
TACTIC NINE: Be rational, cool headed, and reasonable. Everybody has a good reason for doing things, even if the outcomes are a disaster. Don’t think or speak of others as foolish, idiots, careless, lacking of commitment and so on. Learn to position your comments on failures of others in a rational, reasonable light. As the saying goes, “Never speak ill of anyone”. Let me add: or of any circusmtance. There is always something positive, some lesson or experience that can bring someone or a team one step closer to success.
TACTIC TEN: When engaging for any opportunity, from resume through to vying for the CEO job, visualize yourself, think of yourself, as a walking “value proposition”. If you need some coaching on the notion of “Value Proposition”, do a search of my website. I have a great nugget about that. It it is the same as applies for a business.
TACTIC ELEVEN: Be the secret combination to success…the key to success. Wherever possible pre-think and develop a great solution to a great problem being experienced by the company. But I have one caution for you. It comes from my years of using the SANDLER SELLING SYSTEM in which one of the important selling lessons goes something like this: “Never spill your candy in the lobby!” In other words, find a way to position yourself as the person who has a potential solution to whatever problem you identified, yet don’t give away so much that someone else can implement your idea or solution it in your absence. Be, or make yourself the key…but in a modest, humble, non-condescending manner.
TACTIC TWELVE: Practice and don’t ramble. Leaders, especially CEOs, have a “gift” of speaking SUCCINCTLY, precisely, and with power. But they communicate the fully meaning, complete ideas, so there is no chance of a miscommunication. Learn to speak with authority by getting to the point without sacrificing any of the above tactical measures for remaining top of mind.
- Find a way to climb to top of mind
- Demonstrate how you can move a company’s objectives forward
- Demonstrate how you are the best person to fit the job
- Create good chemistry throughout and following the process
- Consider my list of the 12 tactics, above, if they fit your personality