March 17, 2011
Learn the secrets executives use to land their dream jobs
One reason I enjoy working with executives is that they gain such deep knowledge about the companies they're targeting. They become familiar with the general financials, the executive management teams and boards of directors, and they find out if the companies are planning on reorganizing, going public or whether they're being positioned for sales or mergers.
But their secret ingredient -- that we can all learn from -- is knowing even more details about their target company's competitors. With this information, they're able to put together a mini business plan or marketing document to share with their prospective employers. They are able to create a "wow" effect, and position themselves as a valuable resource versus a desperate job-seeker.
You don't have to be an executive to use this strategy. Last year, a client of mine came to me with a big challenge. She told me she had been a stay-at-home mom for five years and wanted to get back into the market.
With the best candidates and resumes already floating around the marketplace, she knew she didn't have much of a chance if she tried traditional job-search strategies, so she took my advice to target only her dream companies. One of those companies was AT&T Wireless in Redmond. In the past, she had worked with AT&T and loved the company, but she didn't have any contacts, nor did she see any openings that were a good fit.
"One thing I saw on TV was AT&T and Verizon battling each other about who was a better cell phone provider. It reminded me of my kids fighting, and then I had a thought: These guys weren't fighting for attention, they were fighting for retail sales," she said.
She decided to go to four local AT&T stores, where she documented everything she could about what they were doing right and what they could have improved on. She then did the same thing at Verizon Wireless stores and compared her data. She had found the mistakes AT&T was making and created a two-page business plan for the company.
My client then handed that information over to a marketing director at the company and said she would be happy to discuss details if he was interested in learning more. Two days later, she got a call from someone in HR at AT&T saying, "While we don't have an opening, our marketing director is interested in interviewing you."
Before she knew it, she had walked away with a job offer. I'm proud of her for landing her dream job, but the part I love the most is that she overcame a limitation -- being a stay-at-home mom with a less-than-optimal resume -- by thinking and acting strategically.
Analyzing a company's competition and proposing relevant solutions is a simple yet powerful strategy anyone can use. Perhaps it will inspire you and help you get your dream job at your dream company.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
Paul Anderson helps professionals in transition find their desired employment.
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