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.