UPDATE: Click here to learn how to find your next job instead of waiting for it to find you.
This is the third post of a three-part series offering concrete, actionable ideas for how to separate yourself from the pack in today’s feverishly-competitive job market.
In Part I, I shared the Sales Cover Letter (“Your Resume Won’t Get You a Job”) as an approach for making your resume stand out and get you the face-to-face interview. In Part II, I proposed the Interview Binder (“You Can Have Them at ‘Hello’”), a tool for optimal pre-interview preparation and creating a leadership impression with the interviewer(s) before the first question.
Part III: Ask yourself this — Will the people interviewing you remember you after you’ve left the room? What will they remember? How can you be sure?
“Numerous psychological studies have shown that human beings are not very good at identifying people they saw only once for a relatively short period of time. The studies reveal error rates of as high as fifty percent,” wrote Michael C. Dorf, Vice Dean and Professor of Law at Columbia University, in a 2001 article “How Reliable is Eyewitness Testimony” published on FindLaw.com. Fifty percent.
My solution – leave a big piece of you behind to speak for you.
I’m talking about a Capabilities eBrochure, a leave-behind collateral piece that is all about you, your skills, experience and accomplishments, and most importantly, your plan for success for the new position if hired. And the way I suggest it, you put your face right on the cover.
Today’s executive job market is a buyer’s market. Organizations have no trouble attracting 1000 or more resumes for a VP-level position posted on TheLadders.com, and the short list of finalists can include 10 or more candidates. Each gets an hour. Interviewed back-to-back over a couple of days. With a mad scramble to check email and voicemail in between meetings. How was it you planned to stand out in that mess?
Marketing, public relations and advertising agencies understand well this beauty pageant routine when competing for new business and wouldn’t think to show up for such a meeting without their carefully-prepared and rehearsed capabilities presentations, and copies to leave behind.
The Capabilities eBrochure is a document any professional can create without any special software or skills. It can be created in a weekend and produced in quantity for relatively little money. The basics of the Capabilities eBrochure look like this:
Software. Use software you already have and should know how to use well – Microsoft PowerPoint (or equivalent presentation software like Zoho Show).
Look-and-Feel. This is basically a magazine or sales collateral about you. Make it attractive and artistic. If you can’t, then hire someone who can. This should NOT look like a hard copy of a Powerpoint presentation.
Section 1: Reasons Why They Should Hire You. The front of the eBrochure is your canvas to articulate the specific criteria the organization should use to choose the winning candidate, and why you exceed each.
Section 2: Your Plan for Success. “What have you done lately” isn’t good enough any more. Companies hiring VP-level and C-level executives expect you to know what you’ll accomplish for them in your first 100 days and to be able to tell them. Put your 100-Day Plan here.
Addenda: Supporting Documents. This is where you can add a very select set of evidence that clearly supports the reasons to hire you and/or your 100 Day Plan. Add only enough to make your point. Too much and they’ll never read it.
Production. Don’t scrimp here. Print the eBrochure on high quality semi-gloss paper, 24# weight or higher. Go to Fedex Office, Office Depot or OfficeMax and get each document coil-bound with a clear front cover and rigid black back cover. Make enough for everyone in the room PLUS anyone not there who you might want to send one to later.
Presentation. When you enter the room, quietly pull the stack of eBrochures from your briefcase and place them in front of you. Don’t say anything about them until the opportune moment. Generally in an interview, there is a moment when the candidate is asked, “What would your first 90-100 days on board look like?” This is that moment. Now is when you hand them out. Depending on your audience, you may want to lead them through each page, or you may want to selectively cite content on specific pages to support points you make as your interview progresses.
Final thought: I’ve linked an eBrochure (Mark Olson Capabilities eBrochure) I developed and used recently for an executive-level marketing position at a private college. I am making a major career change into higher education and it’s important for me to explain why I am qualified and why I will make a major difference.
If you have thoughts or similar documents you’d like to share, I’d love to see them.