5. “Motivated by change”
“We would like you to come in for an interview.” Those wonderful words are what every job hunter wants to hear. Kathy, 55, an HR Manager, called me immediately after she got off the phone with the recruiter. She said, “This job opportunity is ideal for me. I’ve been inside my company for the last 18 years. I haven’t had to interview as I just got promoted. I want to stand out and make a good impression, but I’m not sure how. Can you help?”
Kathy was pleased that her resume had gotten her this far. Next comes the difficult part of convincing the employer that you are the person to hire. The interview failure rate is between 75-80%. So how can you change that and dramatically improve your odds of being offered the job?
Answer: The 60 Second Sell.
In an interview coaching session, Kathy learned how to take control of the job interview immediately. We developed her 60 Second Sell, a job interview technique I created years ago and have been teaching to book readers, students, and career counseling clients. It is a tool that helps you target your skills to meet the employer’s needs. It allows you to summarize your most marketable strengths in a brief and concise manner. Successful job hunters have found that the 60 Second Sell is the most influential tool they used during the interview process. They praised this technique because it was very effective in capturing the employer’s attention.
Think of this as your 60-second verbal business card. It will summarize your best skills, accomplishments, and previous experience in a well-thought-out fashion that will immediately make the employer know why they should hire you. The 60 Second Sell is a proven shortcut to your success. Many career counseling clients have reported it was the best job-search technique they’d ever used. It’s easy to create and easy to implement. Once you’ve learned this technique, your interviews will be significantly improved because you will be able to do the most important thing necessary to land a job—get the employer to recall you and top your abilities.
The Formula: Creating Your Strategy
Examine your previous experience. Write out the key responsibilities for each job you’ve held. Note any significant accomplishments. Zero in on your essential work strengths—those abilities where you excel and are most productive. Use your network to get as much background as possible about the employer and the position’s needs. Many times, your contacts will point out the very aspects that you must stress. Other times, there will be little information available, and you will need to guess based on your general knowledge about performing the job.
After reviewing the employer’s and position’s needs, determine which of your abilities and which aspects of your experience will be most relevant to the employer. Then create your top five selling points, known as the 5 Point Agenda, and use each point to build a robust picture emphasizing how you can do the best job.
In Kathy’s case, the company wanted to find a progressive HR partner to lead its organization. They needed a strategic leader and a true business partner. Her 5 Point Agenda needed to stress her achievements. Here are the top five selling points she was going to emphasize.
Job opening: Human Resources Director – 5 Point Agenda
Point 1: Award-winning human resources leader.
When you’re looking for a job, finding ways to stand out and make a great impression can be everything. But, sometimes, the very “rules” that are supposed to help you do that can hold you back.
Career and leadership coach Kathy Caprino, author of The Most Powerful You: 7 Bravery-Boosting Paths to Career Bliss, sees such “bad” information come from her clients regularly. “I don’t know where they’ve gotten it,” she says. “But we have to be braver, and we have to be more powerful and more confident.” Caprino says that when we’re braver about our job search efforts, we feel more comfortable ignoring conventional wisdom that doesn’t work and focusing on carving our own path—which probably means getting to our destination faster.
To help you be more effective in the hunt for your next job, ignore this tired and, sometimes, just plain wrong advice:
Yes, job boards have loads of positions listed. But while they yield roughly 50% of applications to companies, less than 1% of those individuals land the job, according to the 2019 Jobvite Recruiting Benchmark Report. In fact, by the time many jobs are posted, the company may already have leads on great candidates or have made a decision about their next hire, says career coach Terry McDougall, author of Winning the Game of Work: Career Happiness and Success on Your Own Terms.
When she was a hiring manager, she would begin putting the word out on her network about an opening before she could get it posted. “In a big company, it would usually take at least two or three weeks for the job to be posted. And by that point, the person that resigned is already gone, so I’m in a hurry to fill the role,” she says. So, spend more time focused on your contacts than scouring job boards.
The team at Hatchit, an IT recruiting firm, says that more companies and recruiters are using creative sourcing and posting jobs in subreddits, Slack channels, and specialized platforms to get more targeted responses.
Cover letters are often an afterthought, and there’s even debate over whether you really need one. But, as Fast Company recently reported, ResumeLab’s research found that a great cover letter can land you an interview even if your résumé isn’t strong enough to do so. So, be sure to craft a short, strong intro to go along with your résumé.
“While certain résumé-writing guidelines appear to remain steadfast, many other elements have continued to evolve to meet the ever-changing needs of hiring professionals and to adapt to the latest recruitment tools and processes,” says Amanda Augustine, career expert at TopResume. You need to create your résumé to be picked up by applicant tracking systems. That means clear text and a simple, clean layout with clearly marked sections and white space, she says.
Typically a “hybrid” or combination résumé format is best, as it includes some upfront narrative that gives insight into the candidate. TopResume’s research has also found that résumés with a left-hand rail or column offer a fresher look that catches recruiters’ eyes but that also successfully passes through the ATS, whereas a résumé with a right-hand rail or column does not. Including the phrase “references available upon request” at the bottom of the résumé, using two spaces after each period, or including an upfront objective will all make your résumé look dated, she says.