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Job Hunting: What Makes You Remarkable?

By: Guest | December 16, 2010 | 
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Guest post by Peter Osborne, a communications executive at Bank of America.

About six months ago while job hunting, I saw an opening for a senior communications position. I knew the recruiter so I called her. “Two hundred resumes in the first two hours,” she sighed. “Most are qualified.”

Justin Goldsborough posted on Spin Sucks recently that his go-to job interview question is, “What kind of network are you bringing to the table?” With all due respect, if you get that question in this market, it’s a courtesy interview and an internal candidate already has the job.

If you’re a real candidate, the interviewer already knows what kind of network you’re bringing to the table because one of them helped you get the interview. He has already Googled you and read your tweets, your LinkedIn Answers, and your Facebook posts. He’s deciding whether he should take a chance on you instead of someone he knows – because he wants someone remarkable.

“What makes you remarkable,” is my go-to question. The pool is full of seasoned (and desperate) executives. When job hunting, you differentiate yourself by explaining your value proposition in clear, succinct terms and ensuring your branding and network communicate that same message. Be externally focused – how can you solve their problems (the things that keep them awake). This requires preparation (which will give you confidence in the interview).

What makes you unique? What can you offer that moves your resume to the top of the pile…and keeps it there? And can you explain it in a way that will resonate with the HR person who may not fully understand the challenges not captured in the job description?

Just getting the chance to swing the bat and interview is huge. It’s not about collecting 1,000 connections; it’s about how you engage that network and whether others turn to you. That requires a unique voice and a skill nobody else offers.

Research the interviewer and her company. Create Google alerts for the company and its senior executives. Talk to people in your network who know someone at the company. Look at their new hires on LinkedIn and contact people who recently left and ask why. Read their blog, their entire website, and their Facebook page…and those of their competitors.

How do they make money? What are they working on? What kind of culture do they have? Be prepared to talk intelligently about problems facing their industry and their clients/customers (another Google alert or two). Make sure your Twitter stream and LinkedIn profile reflect your brand. Show up ready to fight for the job and demonstrate what you – not your network – will bring to the table on Day One.

Want to get the job? Convince your target company that you’re a perfect fit and that letting you slip away to the competition could be devastating. That’s how I got my new job – people I worked with (inside and outside the company) sold me in such a way that it was my job to lose in the interview. And then I sealed the deal because of my preparation.

Known to his friends and clients as the Bulldog, Peter Osborne helps companies and individuals differentiate themselves through his Bulldog Simplicity and Consultant Launch Pad websites. A former journalist, Peter recently joined Bank of America as a communications executive.

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8 Comments on "Job Hunting: What Makes You Remarkable?"

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Doug_Davidoff
Doug_Davidoff
5 years 6 months ago

Peter, this is a GREAT post. I work with salespeople all across North America – the recipe you gave to getting through the interview is precisely the recipe for making the sale. No suprise there.

Thanks for sharing this – I’ll be sharing it with our clients.

JMattHicks
5 years 6 months ago

Great words of wisdom. This is definitely a blog post I’ll be sharing with others.

HowieSPM
HowieSPM
5 years 6 months ago
This is great insight Peter. I think there is even more reason today to go through recruiters vs using Monster or Career Builder. A good recruiter will coach you before and after each interview. Often good candidates fail because of the little things just as much as any potential big gaffes.My Brother-in-Law just lost his job after 8 years, it was fate because my sister says every so often they can never move because he will never leave his job. I am trying to find him some recruiting contacts in his field because each time you start interviewing it takes… Read more »
consultantlaunc
consultantlaunc
5 years 6 months ago
Thanks, everyone, for your kind comments. What a great way to end the day! A few thoughts: Howie: I certainly think recruiters are far superior to using Monster or Career Builder, but I do believe that in the current market, focused networking is even more important. That means not just re-engaging with people you’ve worked with before, but going outside your industry. It’s so much more difficult to get into a new industry than it was 3-5 years ago because there are so many people with experience in those industries who are willing to start over. Those networking contacts can… Read more »
KaseyCrabtree
KaseyCrabtree
5 years 6 months ago

Great post – as a job-seeker it’s always good to be reminded of ALL the little details that make one a positive and employable brand. Question: twice now I have been a finalist, and wound up being either 1st or 2nd runner up but didn’t get the job. How can I find out where I fell short and why the other person got the position? Any suggestions?

consultantlaunc
consultantlaunc
5 years 6 months ago
Gini might be a better person than me to answer this one these days because of the number of people she interviews (and both rejects and hires), but did you ask the decision maker? The challenge is that some people either feel guilty about their reason (e.g., they decided for “soft” reasons like the winner connected on a more personal level or their reason might not hold up under HR scrutiny) or they’re uncomfortable about answering (i.e., they don’t want to hurt your feelings). Assuming the decision maker isn’t talking, work your way back through the process. You probably talked… Read more »
JGoldsborough
JGoldsborough
5 years 6 months ago
Hi, Peter. Good advice here on knowing what makes you remarkable. But what I would argue is that your network is one of your first impressions and chances to be remarkable to me as a candidate. You took my words way too literally. When I said my first question was “What kind of network are you bringing to the table?” I didn’t mean the first question I ask the candidate in an interview. You are exactly right…if they’ve made it that far, I already know what network they are bringing to the table. It’s likely what got them the interview.… Read more »
ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 6 months ago

@KaseyCrabtree Kase – I always recommend people ask those they interviewed with why they fell short. Some people feel really uncomfortable giving that kind of feedback, but we try to give it in an enlightening and constructive way. If they won’t tell you, well I hate to say it, but that’s a great clue you wouldn’t have been happy working there anyway.

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