By Bill Kaufmann, President of My Greener Future
- An analysis and history of your results leading to a targeted direction
- A Career Map that defines where you need to be, when, to reach your goals
- Research “next step” opportunities into the marketplace
- A compelling resume to position your candidacy
- Effectively handling the initial telephone interview
- Using the “secret weapon” of the mini-pitch in your interviews
Now is the time to convert your effective mini-pitches into an engaging discussion with the hiring manager. This conversion happens by shifting the emphasis from your positive results of the past, to potential successful strategies for the future. This is accomplished by focusing on alternative solutions of issues within the open position for which you are interviewing. Whoever can engage the hiring manager in discussing potential solutions to the issues of the organization, with alternatives and/or potential strategies, will usually win the job.
How do you accomplish that transition? Connect the results and solutions you have experienced in similar past situations to the issues facing the hiring manager. Here are a few steps:
- During the interview, as you respond to questions using mini-pitches (the issue, the action, the results), the hiring manager will ask follow-up questions like, “How did customers respond?”, or “How long before results were achieved?”, or “How did you get senior management buy-in?”. Whatever the question, it gives you insight as to the real issues of the hiring manager. No question is irrelevant! Any and all questions will be directly related to what the hiring manager is looking for in the “ideal” candidate. You just have to listen.
- Respond to the follow-up questions with insights of the process you went through that may be helpful to the hiring manager. The “interview” will now evolve into a “discussion” of potential strategies. Possible discussion items may include:
- Alternatives that were considered
- The pro’s and con’s of each alternative
- The implications if implemented
- The resources required and the cost/benefit analysis
- Tighten up the discussion of strategies to provide solutions to specific issues of the hiring manager. You might want to say, “A number of these alternatives may be applied to your situation. Would it be helpful for me to give you more details to those you find particularly attractive?” If the answer is “yes”, you know you have made an impression. Now is the time to shine. Your supportive and consultative candidacy will rise to the top.
The reason a mini-pitch takes between 20 and 30 seconds is to allow time enough for the follow-up questions from the hiring manager. If you assume your interview as a candidate will take about an hour or so, you need to make sure you have enough time at the end of the interview to begin the discussion about strategies to potentially resolve current issues.
An objective of the interview is to guide the discussion to your advantage. Your task is to link your answers to the hiring manager’s issues, so you are perceived as part of the solution.
Take control of your destiny. Be a candidate rather an applicant. Join us at My Greener Future.
Our website: Mygreenerfuture.com
When contemplating a move to another job at a different company or even a transition within your current organization, ask the question of yourself:
“AM I MOVING TO SOMETHING, AWAY FROM SOMETHING OR AM I TREADING WATER?”
Unless you know the truthful answer to that question, you may be making a terrible mistake. Understanding your own motivation for a change is as important as the change itself. You want your decision to be the best move for the right reason rather than for the wrong reason. Your longer-term career can be affected. Let’s look at each one of these three situations:
1- MOVING TOWARD THE FUTURE – Will this new position move you in the right direction and at the correct level given your Career Map? Sometimes you need to move laterally to gain new experiences or skill sets that were not possible in your current role. In cases like this, when you need to supplement your experience base, make sure that you know what you need, how much time it will take to get these new skills, and if it will, in fact, move you up the ladder. You need to look two-or-three moves out in your career in order to understand the sequence of steps you need, over time, to reach your ultimate goal. Making a major change with a shortsighted view can be a career stopper.
2- RUNNING AWAY FROM THE PRESENT – Are you looking to move to a new position to get away from your present situation? Many times the current job stress can make a change look like your only way out of a negative situation. That may be true, but not necessarily the best decision in all cases. Try to be objective about assessing where you are, where you want to go, and why. You don’t want to jump to a new situation only to find out that it’s worse than the previous one. Then you’ve got two bad moves, which means a job-hopping resume of three positions in as many years. The point is, make sure you’re moving in the right direction and not backward for the wrong reason.
3- TREADING WATER – Staying in one place for a period of time is not necessarily bad. Stability is a wonderful attribute. Just be sure the value of stability is not hiding the question of stagnation. Stability can sometimes hide your real growth opportunities, especially if the company is in a growth spiral. A department head of a multi-million dollar business is growing and expanding if that business becomes a billion dollar business: You may have the same title, but have more staff, greater responsibilities, and more pay. On the other hand, staying in one place for too long, in an organization that isn’t growing, can impede your future growth. There needs to be a balance between getting the skills necessary for you to advance, while at the same time expanding your opportunities for growth. You can’t be a world-class tennis player by only hitting against the wall.
The opportunity for a long career with one company and receive a 25-year service award is gone. Doing the same thing year after year not only becomes boring, but also leaves you vulnerable when new management walks in, unless you’re keeping current in your field. There’s no greater feeling of security than the knowledge that you are in demand due to your knowledge, skills, abilities, experience and results.
Let me repeat that in a different way: Security is being marketable, based on your results!
YOUR SECRET WEAPON: THE “MINI-PITCH”
What is a mini-pitch? Mini-pitch – A well-practiced articulate and impressive response of 20 to 30 seconds to questions that you know will be asked of you in an interview.
OK, let’s start at the beginning. How do you know the questions that will be asked of you (or at least 80 to 90% of them?). Simple. Look at the ad, position description or definition of the open position on the company’s website. Make a list of the “must have’s” and “would like to have” that the company has established. Then take your resume, which parallels the position to be filled. Now look at it objectively. If you were the hiring manager, what would be the questions you would ask? Most questions will focus on the hiring manager’s query for each item on your resume:
- What did you do?
- How did you do it?
- What were the results?
(This material is covered in another “GETTING HIRED” article called Universal Q & A’s)
Mini-pitches should be practiced and perfected in content and delivery then delivered spontaneously. The key elements of a mini-pitch response are: define the issue (what were you trying to resolve?), the action you took (what steps did you take?) and the results (what were the positive outcomes?).
Here’s an example to the question: “HOW DID YOU OBTAIN THOSE RESULTS?” (Imagine you are currently interviewing for an Assistant Product Manager position and talking about an item on your resume about increasing revenue as a Marketing Analyst for a consumer products company) Your mini-pitch response would be something like this sequence:
First, the issue: “Our revenues had been flat for the past 2 years”.
Second, the action: “We researched our customer’s buying patterns by analyzing consumer behavior models. After comparing the development costs for a new product versus re-branding an older product, we introduced a new line to a new market”.
Third, the results: “The outcome was an incremental 12.2% increase in new orders from new customers over an 18 month period”.
This is A 62 word mini-pitch in 21 seconds. You practiced the answer because you knew the question that was most likely to be asked. When you answer, you will sound confident and competent. You’ve made a positive impression with the hiring manager because you provided a full response without a distracting narrative of irrelevant details. It also provides the hiring manager the opportunity to ask follow-up questions. These questions are critical for you to listen to very carefully, because they tend to give you insights into the issues within the organization that the hiring manager wants to resolve. Once you understand the hiring manager’s direction, you can guide the discussion to your advantage. Your next task is to link your answers to the hiring manager’s questions as it applies to the issues to be resolved. But that’s a topic we’ll cover in another GETTING HIRED article.
Mini-pitches are essential to understand, create and practice. It separates you from other applicants who may not be as prepared as you. Mini-pitches also force you to target answers in a way that demonstrates your ability to focus on the things that are important. From the hiring manager’s perspective you show the ability to “think on your feet” in an articulate way.
Take control of your career. Be a candidate rather than an applicant. Join us at My Greener Future.
Find more information, articles and mini-webinars at our website: Mygreenerfuture.com