Archive for the ‘career strategy’ category

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

March 31, 2010

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, 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



June 5, 2009

My husband and I launched a new hobby last year: sailing. If anyone reading this article knows about sailing, they know that the lifestyle is replete with challenges. Our most recent (and current) challenge has been the breakdown of our boat’s motor, critical to getting in and out of the harbor. It recently occurred to me that the mystery of how to repair the sailboat motor might resonate with job seekers, and thus also my esteemed career strategy colleagues, as you manage the fears, anxieties and frustrations of your job seeker clients.

Job Search Often Requires Hours of Mind-stumping Retooling

Often, prospective resume and job search clients approach me in an aggravated mode, having spent days, weeks or months in what feels like wheel-spinning motion, feeling their job-search strategy is broken. My husband and I have been battling the broken-motor problem since the end of last sailing season, but most heartily since March of this year, when we were able to de-winterize the boat and begin retooling various parts: carburetor, distributor, fuel tank, etc. Each time my husband retooled a part (often, after hours of back-aching work spent stooped over the engine), he looked at me hopefully, turned the key and kerplunk, it didn’t fix the problem.

As with fixing a persnickety engine, job search often requires hours of mind-stumping retooling only to find, hours or days into the execution, that the job search strategy still won’t turn over a new job interview or job or at the least, it won’t stimulate an effective job lead. Instead, it feels to the job seeker he is investing time and resources into a black hole.

Modeling my job seeker clients, my husband and I have tapped various professional resources to try to get our boat engine running again. As when career bumps detract from once thriving careers, our boat engine’s demise stalled our sailing life, all at once making us feel stranded on our dock.  So we called upon service experts specializing in just the type of motor we have (Atomic 4, fuel engine), paid for new parts and advice, tapped our local marina’s service department aspiring for an appointment with a master mechanic (is a waiting-in-line issue during this busy boating season; plus, we have a specialized engine versus the more-common motorboats that Midwest marina mechanics tend to prefer working on). Still, after all this, the engine is fettered with what seems to be a systemic mechanical issue.

We feel we have thrown money and time upon more money and time only to find the problem to be amorphous and unending. Our patience wears thin.

This process has further upped my empathy for job search clients intent upon navigating the winds of a stormy job-search climate, where effectively communicating their value proposition, ferreting out their unique personal brand, planning the perfect networking strategy, appropriately and impactfully networking … and so forth unceasingly fill their job-search prep and execution lifestyle, often with what appears to be little positive result.

What I Tell My Job Search Clients to Quell Frustration:  Reason to Hope

As a result of my motor-boat problem, some solutions and tips that I have gleaned for my job-search clients and prospects, follow:

  1. Don’t give up. As for my husband and me, our boat motor will either get fixed … or it won’t. Either way, we will not quit sailing. For example, recently, we adapted our harbor exit and reenter process to allow us to sail a full day in 85+ degree, sunny weather, exceeding our earlier expectations, when consumed by our broken motor. Similarly, in a job search, you may need to circumvent what’s blocking your progress and find another way to get into the job-interview harbor. If that means that you are going against the grain a bit of what mechanically feels like the right fix for the problem, take the risk and just do it (don’t dwell).
  2. While you are trying new tactics and strategies to get the wind in your job search sails, as you are opening new channels in which to sail through to an interview, also be thoughtfully planning new ways to fix that broken job-search engine for the long-haul. This plan may include better, ongoing job-search maintenance as well as investing yourself in niche experts that really know their stuff — though you may be an expert in your career profession; e.g., project management, finance, sales, marketing, technology, human resources, operations, etc., you likely will never be a job-search expert unless you become a full-time, trained professional career strategist.
  3. When immersed in the problem to the point of being emotionally wrung, unplug. Find a smile, find laughter, step away! Come back later refreshed and renewed. It WILL pay off in the long run. You will either find a whole new way to address the same problem, or you will deflect the problem, and plot an entirely new job-search course to navigate the choppy career waters.
  4. Invest in yourself in a meaningful way. Don’t just throw good money after bad in job-search services. For example, if you are hunting down a great resume service to partner with, be bold; be prudent, be hopeful. Spending $200 for a value-proposition-focused career document probably won’t cut it! This dynamic document is intimate, detailed and tailored and is your public relations voice. Don’t shortchange it, as the repercussions will put your search right back into choppy waters or beach your job-search boat entirely.
  5. Does all this sound specific, but at the same time, a bit vague? Yes! But as in all of life, job search (as well as sailboat maintenance) is an art that is fluid, creative, pragmatic, results-oriented and risky. This risk is not without rewards: Just keep on tacking, adjusting your sails, finding new wind, plotting and adjusting your course to ensure you navigate toward the rewards, which, over the long haul, most definitely will outweigh the risks.

Originally published in Career Alliance Connection, Career Management Alliance’s member newsletter.