Posts Tagged ‘Positioning’

What do you do? How do you answer this question? Most people I talk to respond by giving their title. When giving an elevator pitch, most people name tasks that they perform on the job, often giving a laundry list. When I ask an IT manager what they do, they might talk about implementing and or maintaining systems for a company. They may talk about particular architectures or programs that they have expertise in, but all this does is brand people as a commodity. It does nothing to demonstrate their value. What is the value of implementing a new system? What does that system do for the company? How are employees able to improve performance with the new system? Does the system actually achieve the goals that were envisioned? Was the system implemented on time and under budget? What were the skills (hard and soft) that you used to achieve your results? What were the actions that you took leading to the results? These are the types of questions that need to be answered so that you can articulate your value. Any work an employee does needs to do one of three things for the company. It needs to help the company generate revenue, help the company save costs, or help the company mitigate risks. If your work is not doing any of these, there is no reason for a company to pay your salary. By understanding the value your work or projects bring to a company, you have an ability to start articulating what value you can bring to a prospective employer. You are no longer a commodity, but you are a value added solution.

What does shooting free throws have to do with your job search and interview preparation? Most job seekers take their skills, knowledge about their industry of function and ability to talk about them for granted. They figure, “I have been doing this for x number of years, and I already know it”. Well I have been playing basketball my whole life. I grew up playing hours upon hours every day. I literally shot over 100 free throws every day. In high school, I never shot less than 86%. In recent years, I do not play as often, and my shot gets very rusty. However, with a little practice, my shot comes back pretty quickly. Today I played basketball with my son. It was the first time in a couple of weeks that I played, and my shot showed. I don’t think I shot 30% on my free throws! I know basketball very well. I know the mechanics of shooting free throws. However without the regular practice, my muscle memory had diminished, and I was stiff on my free throws. The same thing can be said of practicing for interviews. If we are not practicing every day, our answers are stiff, and we are much more prone to shoot an air ball. Athletes from high school thru professional practice every day. Is this because they do not know how to play? No, it is because they want their actions to be second nature. When you are working, you are doing your work every day, and it becomes second nature. The same thing applies to your job search. If you are in transition, your full time job is your job search. One of the most important parts of your job search is your interview. You need to be training and practicing every day. Here are 5
ways to help you do this.

  1. Put your power stories on index cards, with associated skills on the back side. Practice these every day! When you go to a coffee meeting, take out two or three and ask the person you are networking with to practice interviewing with you.
  2. Write down the most common questions, and script out your answers. (Two examples are: “Tell me about yourself.” and “Why should I hire you instead of the 15 other qualified candidate we are interviewing?” Once you are comfortable with the answer, write it down on an index card and practice it every day.
  3. Identify your perceived liabilities, and script out a response to questions about these.
  4. Take opportunities to do mock interviews, and if possible video tape them.
  5. Schedule your practice time at least 30 minutes every day into your calendar.

When you have an opportunity for an interview, you have put in a lot of work to get there. There are a lot of other qualified candidates. Do not waste the opportunity! Make sure you have put in the training for the interview so that you do not shoot an air ball when the game is on the line. Nothing is sweeter than the sound of the ball touching nothing but net in the clutch.

 In an article in Sports Illustrated on Mike Brown, the new Lakers coach, Lee Jenkins writs about how Brown strategically prepared for his next job. “No one wants to follow a legend, but Mike Brown knew Jackson was retiring, and he found himself watching the Lakers more than the Heat. By midseason he was taking notes on them like an advance scout. When they combusted against Dallas in the playoffs, he detailed their vulnerabilities to the pick-and-roll, and when Bryant termed the season “a wasted year of my life,” he felt goose bumps. Lakers owner Jerry Buss invited Brown to his home in May for an interview, but Buss was not prepared for all of Brown’s baggage: a binder filled with more than 50 pages about the team, separated into sections, including one analyzing every Laker and another evaluating potential trades. Brown also brought four DVDs, one 49 minutes long, depicting defensive coverages. When Jim Buss, the owner’s son and Lakers executive vice president, asked to take the DVDs home with him, Brown resisted. He didn’t want them out of his hands….. When Jim Buss called Brown to offer him the job, he told him, “I’m hiring you because I want to see those DVDs.”

Brown is an unlikely coach to the stars, having never played professionally, or even stood out as a collegian. … He became a defensive specialist at San Diego and found his way to the NBA when he spotted a picture of then Nuggets coach Bernie Bickerstaff on the cover of the alumni magazine. Brown asked for an internship, and even though Denver didn’t offer any, Bickerstaff hired Brown to help run team-sponsored camps. Brown traversed Colorado in a red Nissan pickup, devising clinic schedules as intricate as his practice plans. From there, Brown had stints as an assistant with the Wizards, Spurs and Pacers before the Cavs hired him”.

After reading the article, my 16 year old son said, “Now I understand why they hired Brown. He was so well prepared, the Lakers couldn’t help but hire him.” Are you doing everything you can to ensure that your target company has no choice but to hire you?  Do you have a list of realistic target companies?  Are you pending hours researching them, understanding their problems and headaches?  Are you preparing scenarios for their success? Are you positioning yourself as the solution to their problems? Strategically looking for your next career position is a full time job. Do not leave it to chance