Persistence, Creativity and the Art of Selling Yourself

October 17th, 2011 § 0 comments

We’ve often said on these pages that being pro-active in your job search requires an understanding OF the value you provide to a potential employer and the ability to craft an artfully tailored sales approach for an interview. An acquaintance of Holla’s, we’ll refer to as Marc, recently made a new hire into his organization of a candidate that secured themselves the opportunity by following this exact advice.

Marc leads a technology organization within a Fortune 500 company. It’s a role that requires him to direct a staff of over fifty, develop creative concepts and review/approve designs and copy, understand the technical back-end of his product and manage a multi-million dollar budget while interfacing with many of the company’s leaders. Recently offered an opportunity to take control of a new firm-wide initiative, Marc has been actively interviewing individuals to replace him and assume his current role. Despite being referred many candidates, Marc has had a difficult time identifying a successor because of the unique experience required in his position – a combination of skills spanning organizational, technical, artistic, managerial and financial knowledge.

A few weeks ago, Marc was referred an internal candidate currently a part of the firm’s leadership rotational program. An MBA graduate with a strong consulting background, this individual had strong project management that made HIM an interesting candidate for consideration of the Director role. After an interview, Marc was impressed by the candidate’s financial planning and analysis skills and saw the great ability to manage and produce deliverables on tight timelines. Marc saw significant weaknesses, however, in the candidate’s understanding of the technology behind the product and the creative design necessary to produce it and decided not to move forward with the process. Marc was also kind enough to provide this feedback directly to the candidate, honesty rarely displayed during an interview process but always appreciated by the candidates who are rejected.

A few days later, Marc received a call from the candidate he had turned down. Knowing that Marc was solely responsible for supporting the finance functions of this division and recalling the praise and interest Marc had expressed in hearing about his recent FP&A work for their firm, this candidate put together a tailored and well-thought pitch to rekindle his employment chances. Through the interview that had taken place, the candidate understood the structure of the group and who its full time employees were. This candidate saw the absence of any accounting or finance professionals within the 60-person organizational chart as an excellent opportunity for him to join the group and immediately add value through enhanced financial reporting and accounting, something Marc admitted his team lacked. Armed with this information, the candidate proposed they take on a Divisional CFO role, assuming sole responsibility for the group’s financial needs. This type of position, the candidate argued, would allow him to develop new and more detailed processes surrounding budgeting, planning and reporting while allowing him the time to understand the group’s product and the various technological and creative elements he was unfamiliar with.

Armed with this presentation and his own confidence, the candidate provided further details on how he could refine this newly created role and work towards being that successor Marc was originally looking to identify. Citing concrete examples linking his existing skills and experience to the deficiencies in Marc’s group showed both a high level of interest in the department and in the opportunities that exist within.

Marc was sufficiently impressed by his candidate to make the case to HR for a newly created role within his group. Several weeks later, an offer was extended and accepted and the candidate is making an immediate impact on the groups reporting and planning. Through running the finance department, the candidate is gaining exposure to all areas of the division and is receiving the training and knowledge base needed to assume a Director’s role.

This candidate succeeded in their job search by taking a more direct approach with a hiring manager. Since any interview is essentially a sales presentation, there may always be opportunity to still “close the deal” even when the product changes slightly. Job seekers who believe in their own value as contributors and have the confidence to carefully but forcefully sell themselves will rarely find doors shut on opportunities for which they are at least partially qualified.

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