Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Offering a unique value proposition as an employee 3: searching for and landing a new job

Posted in career development, job search, job search and career development by Timothy Platt on June 5, 2013

This is my third posting to a series on offering defining value as an employee, and on presenting yourself as the answer to problems faced while doing so (see Part 1: taking a consultant’s approach and offering a consultant’s value and Part 2: taking an entrepreneur’s approach to proactively creating and offering workplace value.)

I began this series with a general discussion of approaches that we can take if we are to stand out from the crowd as offering greater, and even defining value as employees. And I stated at the end of Part 2 of this series that I would continue that discussion here at the starting point of a jobs and careers cycle, with the job search and how we can better present ourselves as being the best candidate available for a hiring manager to select from. I have posted extensively on job search and landing a new job in this blog, and particularly in the first directory page listings of my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development. Most of my first 100 short essay postings there connect into that topic area.

This posting connects directly into the line of discussion and the set of resources that I sought to offer there in those postings and series.

• And I begin this discussion from the perspective of the hiring manager’s side of the table as they look for a best candidate to hire.
• And I add that if you want to be that best job candidate you need to think this through from their perspective too.

My goal for the balance of this posting is to clarify what that means and in best practices terms for more competitively applying for the jobs of your choice.

• Know who you are meeting with, and what they do at and for the company you are applying for a job with.
• Know what the business does as a whole, and remember that simply knowing in general terms what industry the business is in, what its main product and service lines are, and similar background information, will not set you apart. Every job candidate you are competing with will have at least that same general idea of what this company does. Know as much and as fully as you can about this hiring business and its recent history and issues. Know what the hiring part of the organization does and what their issues and challenges, and their goals are.
• To bring that into sharp focus, businesses hire and take on the expenses and effort to bring in a new employee and bring them up to speed and productive, because they have overriding needs that they would require an increased headcount to address.
• The hiring manager who seeks out and secures approval to hire to their team has issues and tasks and problems that cannot be effectively carried out just with their current staff at hand. They are hiring to take a set of responsibilities – problems, off of their desk so they do not have to deal with them themselves or delegate them to others who are already overworked.
• Know what you would do at this business. Know why the business and this hiring manager are hiring, and how your contribution would address their critical shortage needs. And think through how you could best present yourself not just as knowing how to do the specific tasks on the job description, but how you’re doing them would make this hiring manager’s life easier.

That last point is crucially important and I have seen otherwise strong candidates fail in their interviews because they cannot convey their value to the hiring company and the hiring manager in terms of that hiring manager’s definition of what would offer value.

The hiring business and the hiring manager define what value means for any job that they are hiring to, and they define what the hiring standards should be and what they would look for and for both good and acceptable, and best candidates.

• As a candidate you have X number of years’ worth of hands-on experience using a skill set that the job description indicates to be essential. So do other candidates you are competing with for this job offer.
• Ask questions, and find out precisely how these skills could best be applied to meet this business’ specific problems and challenges, that they are now hiring to get taken care of.
• Show interest and ask questions, and frame your responses to their questions and your comments in response to their answers, in how you would specifically work with them and their teams in more effectively addressing and resolving their team tasks and priorities. A generic “I’m an expert at Java and Java beans programming and know …” can be an important part of this. But follow through on that finding out more precisely what you would be working on with those hands-on technologies and how your contributions would address their precise priorities and needs.
• You goal here is to present yourself as the answer to their specific problems, and as problems and challenges that you understand and that you take seriously too. And I add, the more you respond to their specific needs and to them as people the more fully you show yourself to be a person they would like to work with too, as a person and as a member of their team.

So do your basic homework and dig deeper where you can, reading about the business through third party news and other sources. Look up the people you will meet with online and read their LinkedIn and other business-oriented online profiles to learn about who they are and their professional backgrounds and orientations. Network with people who have worked with this company or who have other, relevant experience with them and their industry (see my series: Jumpstart Your Networking at the top of the Social Networking and Business directory.) And learn about the specific division or other functional unit of the business you would work with, where that level and type of distinction is important. And then ask questions and listen and enter into a fact finding and clarifying conversation when you interview.

And I specifically note here that anyone looking for new work opportunities today, as of this writing or in any similar period of change and uncertainty needs to take that into account as they search for and research for possible jobs and job interviews.

• When a hiring business reaches out for new talent in a time of stress and uncertainty, this indicates their reasons for hiring are that much more acute,
• And a best fit for their actual needs and priorities for that hiring position are that much more important.

So it becomes that much more important that any candidate present themselves as the greatest source of reliable value for the hiring manager and as value is perceived and understood by them. I strongly recommend reading this posting in conjunction with my series: Finding Your Best Practices Plan B when Your Job Search isn’t Working (at my jobs and careers Guide as postings 56-72) and that you incorporate the approaches outlined here into the hands-on practice exercises that I develop and present there.

I am going to continue this series in a next installment, in which I will consider best practices for new and recent hires. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 2 and at my first Guide directory page on Job Search and Career Development.

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