Job-seeking from the inside out


I received a resume in the mail the other day from an European executive with no experience in Asia seeking a job with a company in Asia in the ‘manufacturing sector.’ Is he trying to sell coal to Newcastle? Think of this executive as a product. Whatever qualities, or benefits, this product has, I’m not buying. So, how does this executive find demand for his product? In this market, it’s not as simple as saying “build it and they will come.”
Product innovation is about building a product from the inside out to address a real need. Can job seekers approach job hunting the same way? To some degree. The only difference is that our task in job hunting is to find the real need after the product has been engineered. Still we’ll need to spend some time understanding our offering from the inside-out.
Most hiring managers will want to know that the executive they are hiring is about 90% right and that they address a critical need. They are not interest in facilitating someone’s career change. They don’t care about someone else’s dreams. Companies care about solving their problem and will arrange an interview only if they think we can be an answer to their dreams. So what about the perfect job for you and me? Is it too idealistic to consider that our ideal job might also be the one for which we are 90 percent right?
Here is your assignment, your bit of self-reflection and questioning. What are you most proud of, what impact have you made and how? Observe how your actions and behaviors in the past have led to positive outcomes. In what types of situations? And what about the opposite? When outcomes have been negative, what actions and behaviors did you demonstrate that led to these outcomes? In what situations? Most of us excel in certain situations and at certain things, and not at others. You will find that when these situations repeat themselves, your success rate goes up. Focus on the successes. Are there patterns? Organize your strengths and weaknesses. Use words to these describe these behaviors that led to your successes (Lominger has a library of competencies for you to use). You might organize these words into headings, like Strategic, Operational, Interpersonal, and the like. Link these word descriptions to actual examples in your past. Validate these words by asking others how they would describe you. When they use a word to describe your style or strengths, ask them why and to cite examples of situations when you used that strength. You can tell yourself that you will only explore opportunities that hit 90% of these qualities.
Now it’s time to engage with the outside world. Research companies and situation that are experiencing challenges might require your qualities or strengths. What are the challenges these companies are facing? Hypothesize about the critical organizational capabilities needed to address these challenges. Network your way in. Find someone inside the company to engage with. Test your hypotheses. Probe and listen. Remember your research on the issues and hunches about the organizational capabilities that are critical for success. Are your hunches correct?
This type of meeting doesn’t seem like an interview because it isn’t. You can provide solutions only by understanding their needs, based on your unique perspective and understanding of this company’s challenges. Your probing during the meeting will provide the opening to use specific expamples of situations where you’ve helped to build the same organizational capabilities, where your competencies have led to positive results in situations that the company can relate to. So, can you demonstrate your unique benefits in a way that results in a buyer, a potential hiring manager, reaching across the table and saying “I need some of this?” Remember my example of the executive in Europe? Does it really make sense for him to cast his resume as far as possible and hope to get lucky?
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