Mirror ‘their’ needs, not your ‘wants’ in #jobsearch

In honor of April Fool’s Day, the Career Collective is tackling a few important and timely questions: How are you fooling yourself about your career / job search? What can you do about it? How can you avoid being tricked by common job search blunders?

To see how other members of the Career Collective responded, please scroll to the end of this post, or, follow the #careercollective hashtag on Twitter. Thanks, once again, to Miriam Salpeter, @Keppie_Careers, for your partnership in organizing this initiative!


A recent computer shopping expedition with Rob (my hubby and co-author of this blog) reinforced for me the importance of

not just listening to another person, but respecting what you hear, mirroring what is being said, then shepherding the person you’re listening to toward a “them”-fitting solution.

Acknowledging their tone, their inflection, the areas where they emphasize phrases and where certain feelings erupt, depicting their passion and / or pain —is a very DIFFICULT skill to master, yet is integral in impactful communications. And it’s integral in how we respond to others’ needs.

And this is what job search is ALL about: respond to OTHERS’ needs first (as a result, thankfully, your needs of finding a job also will be fulfilled, ultimately).

Back to our shopping trip: Rob and I both agreed that he would invest in a notebook computer, one with certain software features and compatibilities with my computer. That’s easy to achieve in today’s technology! However, well into the process, I urged Rob to look at the brand names and technologies I favored, including features and benefits I just KNEW he would value, once he was on board and a super user, like me.

As the day progressed, and our shopping trip escalated, a lightbulb flickered, then brilliantly shone on our scenario: This purchase was about ROB’S current and future goals, and though my past experiences and preferences provided value to his purchasing decision, they wouldn’t heavily influence his decision.

His needs were, and will continue to be, different than mine, so I must selectively offer my opinions and learnings based on his unique needs. For example, though computer screen size and powerhouse technology are of large importance to me, they were not as critical to Rob as having a compact, lightweight machine that he could fold under his arm and transport to our sailboat.

As well, he didn’t need the latest and greatest graphic capabilities and other technology wizardry that only an iMac or certain, amped up Dells or other made-to-order technology would offer. These are just a couple of examples, but you get the drift. Rob’s computer was Rob’s computer, tailored to his lifestyle and business needs, not mine.

However, once his intrinsic needs were fulfilled, mine would also be fulfilled as we partner in business endeavors, creating a ripple effect. First, though, I needed Rob to have a computer that would equip him to fulfill his requirements, and then, as a value-add, my satisfaction would follow.


Likewise, in a job search, you may feel you bring to the table the most magnificent, savvy skills in marketing, sales, operations, finance, technology, design, etc. that you simply must convince the hiring manager that s/he needs. As a result, you become overwrought with enthusiasm, pushing YOUR message, and often, in the process, turning off the person you are most trying to attract. In this way, I think job seekers often fool themselves into believing if they exhibit the right passion about what they believe they can do for a company versus first focusing on specific company and/or industry NEEDS, they will win the interview.

I implore you: Stop for a moment and REALLY listen. What do THEY need? Research their position descriptions, and beyond. Move through their corporate website, Google them, find industry chat rooms, follow them on Twitter, meet their counterparts on LinkedIn, locate business journal articles, understand their positioning in the market and their next great goals. Other sites include Hoovers, Glassdoor, Forbes, Manta.com and many, many more. Twitter offers an absolute goldmine of opportunity to unearth information via conversation with and around your target company’s people who may be casually chatting or building business presence among this global community.

Find their pain (this isn’t easy – you must be listening to do so); understand if they are battling to gain market share, bring new products to market, propel profits, contain costs, or thwart specific economic challenges. Be the person they need you to be to drive new revenue, build new markets and stamp out painful business issues tied to economic woes.


Wrapping your unique value offering and promise of being their solution around their pain points is not easy, and is not a linear process. It often evolves a series of exploratory conversations, brain dumps and self-editing to create the tailored and meaty, meaningful approach that resonates with their needs. Court them, entice them, make them feel that you really ‘get’ them to engage their interest, draw them to you for an interview and ultimately, extend the offer.

Later, when you are on the job, immersed, interacting with your colleagues, customers and others up and down the chain, you can deepen you message, elevate your mantra of change and beat the drumbeat of your other special offerings. For now, step back a moment, quiet the noise within and without, and focus your attentions on them.

Earlier this week, a Twitter pal and Business Coach, @AliciaSanera wrote an excellent blog post on the art of listening as it applies to business. Click here to read her valuable words.

The April, 2010, Career Collective Links

10 Ways to Tell if Your Job Search is a Joke, @careerealism

April Fool’s Day – Who’s Fooling Who?, @MartinBuckland @EliteResumes

If It’s Not You and It’s Not True, You’re Fooling Yourself, @GayleHoward

Don’t Kid Yourself! (The Person You See in the Mirror is a Good Hire), @chandlee 

Avoiding the Most Common Blunder, @jobhuntorg

Are you fooling yourself? Bored at work? Is it your own fault?, @keppie_careers

Hey, Job Seeker — Don’t Be a Fool!, @resumeservice

Job Search Is No Joking Matter,  @careersherpa

Is Your #Career in Recovery or Retreat? (All Joking Aside), @KCCareerCoach

9 Ways You Might Be Fooling Yourself About Your Job Search, @heatherhuhman

Don’t get tricked by these 3 job search blunders, @LaurieBerenson

Trying to hard to be nobody’s fool?,  @WorkWithIllness

It’s not all about you, @DawnBugni

Mirror ‘their’ needs, not ‘your’ wants in #jobsearch, @ValueIntoWords

Stop Fooling Yourself about your Job Hunt: Things you may be doing to sabotage yourself – @erinkennedycprw

Same as it ever was – @walterakana

Explore posts in the same categories: career strategy, Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter, job search

19 Comments on “Mirror ‘their’ needs, not your ‘wants’ in #jobsearch”

  1. […] Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter @ValueIntoWords Mirror ‘their’ needs, not ‘your’ wants in #Jobsearch […]

  2. […] Mirror ‘their’ needs, not ‘your’ wants in #jobsearch, @ValueIntoWords […]

  3. […] Mirror ‘their’ needs, not ‘your’ wants in #jobsearch, @ValueIntoWords […]

  4. […] Mirror ‘their’ needs, not ‘your’ wants in #jobsearch, @ValueIntoWords […]

  5. […] to say: Walter Akana @walterakana Same as it ever was Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter @ValueIntoWords Mirror ‘their’ needs, not ‘your’ wants in #Jobsearch Laurie Berenson @LaurieBerenson Don’t get tricked by these job search blunders Chandlee Bryan […]

  6. […] Trying to hard to be nobody’s fool?,  @WorkWithIllness It’s not all about you, @DawnBugni Mirror ‘their’ needs, not ‘your’ wants in #jobsearch, @ValueIntoWords Stop Fooling Yourself about your Job Hunt: Things you may be doing to sabotage […]

  7. […] Blog Home Mirror ‘their’ needs; not your ‘wants’ in #jobsearch […]

  8. Mary Wilson Says:

    Jacqui, this post is right on the money. Listening well is not a skill that comes easily to most of us, yet it is crucial to so many aspects of life–finding a job, the sales process, enhancing relationships, etc. Thank you for reminding us to focus on others’ needs and giving us specific ways to do that.

    • careertrend Says:

      Thanks Mary!

      I think listening is a skill I’m continually working on; and sometimes, as in my computer shopping experience with hubby, I’m being reminded I could do a better job of really absorbing what I’m hearing.

      I appreciate your points about listening being crucial across various areas of our lives – so true! We must practice it daily to thrive in our personal and business relationships and business endeavors.

  9. […] Mirror ‘their’ needs, not ‘your’ wants in #jobsearch, @ValueIntoWords […]

  10. Dawn Lennon Says:

    You’ve swung the hammer and hit the bell! This is essential advice for every relationship–domestic, work, and social. Selfless listening, the suspension of our own needs, ego, and biases, puts us in very special company. Thanks for getting our attention!

    Your message about preparing for an interview with an “it’s all about your needs” approach is the ticket to success. You’ve painted the need, the value, and the strategy with strokes that every job seeker needs to follow.

    Once again you’ve reminded us that the behaviors that make us good relationship partners make us the candidates of choice. Thanks, Jacqui! Hope Rob likes his new computer! 🙂

  11. Gayle Howard Says:

    Absolutely adore this article Jacqui! It is so true and it needs repeating loud and often. Jobseekers need to stop thinking about what they want to say and start thinking about employers want to hear! Not through their own filters and life experiences, but by putting themselves squarely in the shoes of the hiring authority. Would that person really care to devote time to reading a 10 page resume? Would he or she really be vitally interested in the jobseeker’s personal mission statements, business philosophies and (as a client sent me once) a resume filled with intricate engineering diagrams of patents he produced—when he was actually applying for a job as a hotel manager! Unfortunately for jobseekers forcing their ideas on someone regardless of what he or she thinks seems to be the current trend right now, which is a good deal of the problem for many!

  12. So important to make this mindset change! “Remember the WIIFM.” WIIFM = What’s In It For Me?

    When on the receiving end of resumes and cover letters, I was amazed how self-focused many were in what is, essentially, a sales letter. After a while, I started counting the “I’s” in the letters: “I want a job with your company.” “I want a shorter commute.” “I want to work in this field.” “I know the experience would be great for my career.”

    Would we buy a car from someone who’s sales pitch is, “I want to make a sale today so I can get a commission check next week”? No. It’s obvious what the car sales person’s WIIFM is, but they focus on the customer’s WIIFM – style, mileage, power, whatever.

  13. […] Trying to hard to be nobody’s fool?,  @WorkWithIllness It’s not all about you, @DawnBugni Mirror ‘their’ needs, not ‘your’ wants in #jobsearch, @ValueIntoWords Stop Fooling Yourself about your Job Hunt: Things you may be doing to sabotage […]

  14. […] Mirror ‘their’ needs, not ‘your’ wants in #jobsearch, @ValueIntoWords […]

  15. […] Mirror ‘their’ needs, not ‘your’ wants in #jobsearch, @ValueIntoWords […]

  16. […] Mirror ‘their’ needs, not ‘your’ wants in #jobsearch, @ValueIntoWords […]

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