Are you wondering, “Why am I doing this???”
As I was wrapping up a conversation with my new direct report, I asked a question that asked every leader that I had worked with for the last 30 years. “When was the last time you interviewed for a job outside of this company?” The stunned look was priceless … and completely normal. Even though I had been asking that question for years, the answers mostly wondered the same thing – “… are you trying to get rid of me?”
Look Every Year – yes you….
I thought I would work for IBM like my father for my entire career. And working there in the early 90’s, it was clear that they had lost touch with customers and their needs for modern computing. I was fortunate to jump out just before they broke their commitment to never lay people off with an amazing 40-60,000 stunned “lifers” out on the street…… and like many of them, the “resume” I had was what I had landed the job with out of college 13 years before.
Markets, companies, and you … change
FORTUNATELY, I was a decent writer, and was also incredibly lucky. I found my new role at a “cattle call” recruiting event where my exact skills were just what was needed for a specific role at Fannie Mae. I am forever grateful to that recruiter who grabbed me there… and vowed that was the LAST time luck would have anything to do with my career. That started a yearly practice of getting everything together, actively looking to the point of at least 2 external offers, using those to get an internal offer… and then deciding what to do next. And even with that rhythm, there were a few mistakes I made along the way – ones that you can now benefit from 😉
Your resume needs work… every time…
First – there is no such thing as a generic resume. Start with collecting all of the experiences that you have had. Write them up with as much detail as you can…. And as my Dad taught me, “you should blush when you write your resume, but you cannot lie.” You want it to be clear what happened, what the impact was, what your role was, and how that can be used for the new opportunity. This phase of writing it should be 3 – 5 pages… more than you will use. Done well once, it is where you start. When you target a job, you tailor this to match the words of the job description – phrases, skills, things they are looking for. Treat this loosely, and then tailor it as you get closer.
What makes you Distinctive – not just Competent…
Second, there needs to be something called “Distinctive Competence” – a product management term… and you are the product 😉 Competence is what you are really good at – skills, talents, accomplishments… and what you want to be known for. What makes it important is the “Distinctive” – what makes you unique compared to others.
Look at your opening summary as if it is not you and think, “what about that is unique?” Most people’s summary includes things like “Passionate Leader,” “Focused on Execution,”… etc. Anybody can say that. Really hone this – what is specific about you and your capabilities? What can literally no one else say… stay focused on that. Now take another pass through that and let the real person stand out.
Three Proof-points to answer all questions…
Third – for the interview process, you need 3 Themes. Three things that you want the person to remember after you leave. If you have ever taken media training or ever watched people being interviewed on TV, you see it… no matter what is asked, you bend it back to your themes and how you can relate that to their question. It is a skill… and one that gets easier with practice. For now, think about what people (who like you) say about you. ” I love it when you get involved because ……. “ Those sentences will help you really see it. Keep the “distinctive competence” lens as much as possible and turn them into 3 points.
Those themes can then be put into your resume… which is the thing you leave behind as proof points for your themes. This needs more data points – how many of each of these things did you do (SQL queries, Mentored people, etc.) and if you can, the impact of them … saved 8 weeks on a 16-week project, etc. Put these together (distinctive competence and data points), and you have a sure focus for the resume and the interview process.
We have helped literally hundreds of leaders find better roles…
With that foundation, we can work with you to prepare you for the Interview Process and the 5 distinct phases of the SEARCH process that we prepare uniquely for. Seems like a lot of work? Yes – and you and your family are the reason to take it seriously, get good at it, and make it a part of your career planning yearly.
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