As you develop your job search strategy, there’s one concept that you need to understand. When most companies are replacing someone, they want to find candidates that are equal to or better than the person they are replacing. Why? Because they now have the opportunity to increase the performance to a new level needed for the future. No matter how extraordinary or abysmal the performance was before, every hiring manager is looking for someone better.
So what’s the implication for you? First, unless your performance has the potential that is better than the person before you, you’ll fall short. Second, you need to be better than the other candidates interviewing for the same job as you: Your competition. Why replace someone with less skill, ability, or potential than the prior employee?
Some companies may reorganize the open function. Two of the questions you may want to ask the recruiting agent is, “Has the function changed since being vacated?” “Why is the position now open?” The answer to those two questions may give you some insight into the function. If the function has been changed, is it because the demands are higher or lower now? Has the function been split into two or combined with another function? Has the person before been promoted? Has the function experienced a series of turnovers in that no one yet has been successful? You might want to find out why, before you accept an offer.
So how do you go about figuring out if you’re equal to or better than your competitors?
1. The most important needs of the hiring manager will usually show up in the first 5 items of the position description. Compare your experiences with those top 5 items. If you fit those items at an 80 to 90% rate, you’re OK. If it’s less than 50% you need to focus both on your potential and past history of success.
2. Find the job requirements: Education, years of experience and so on. If you don’t fit the model they have described, your chances are less than 50% you’ll even get a response
3. Find out the name of your predecessor, then Google it. It’s amazing what an Internet search will tell you. While you’re at it, Google the hiring manager to find out where you might have a common experience or bond: Like past companies, schools, geography and functions managed in the past.
4. Ask key questions when interviewing. Here are three:
a. What was of special interest to you about my resume?
b. What are the short-term issues that you need solved immediately?
c. What are your expectations for results from this position within the first 12 months?
The closer you become to the model they require and the results they need, the closer you become to be the finalist candidate.
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