Career Transition: Creative Approach Gets the Interview

Bruce HazenBruce Hazen, MS
Three Questions Consulting
Bruce has diverse industry experience as an internal and external management coach and career consultant. He has been a member of corporate staff as well as line management. Bruce also teaches at the University of Portland, Pamplin School of Business: The Three Questions You Must Answer (multiple times) Throughout Your Career.

Career Transition: Creative Approach Gets the Interview with CEO

Bruce’s Portland-based practice, Three Questions Consulting, provides an holistic appoach that generates strategic answers to the Three Big Questions:
1. When is it time to move up in your profession or organization?
2. When is it time to move out when the work or organization is no longer a fit?
3. When is it time to adapt your style for greater success?

Every once in a while I get a client who raises the bar for everyone else. The search for new or better work causes everyone to exert themselves and often outside their normal range of behavior. But Natalie’s approach to getting noticed was beyond impressive.

In this kind of buyer’s market for talent, you must have two things as a seeker:
1. A strategy. There is too much competition to spend any time experimenting aimlessly and hoping to find work. Strategy gives you the advantage of planned action and efficiency.
2. Creativity. You’ve got to define and differentiate your uniqueness from all that competition out there. You can’t appear as unique if you use the same mundane ways to describe yourself as most other candidates are using.

Trying to be unique is quite an ironic challenge when you consider the resume. Routine standards drive sameness and consistency in the look and layout of resumes. This is what managers and recruiters want to see because they have to process so many of them that they can’t afford the time to encounter each one as a unique design to be interpreted. So there’s your challenge;: use a standard document, but also try to look unique.

But here’s a tip;: don’t use only a resume. If delivering a resume to a hiring manager is the sum total of your approach to presenting yourself to an organization, you definitely have room to try some other approaches. Keep doing the things you’ve always done and you’ll most likely get the results you’ve always gotten.

Here’s what Natalie did to break out of the mold of standard self-presentation. She had strong experience in marketing and brand development for some solid consumer products and professional services, but she wanted to move into food production or retail foods. When she heard that the Director of Marketing position was open at the most up-and-coming natural food grocery chain in Oregon she knew this was a twice-in-a-lifetime (calculating average turnover in this position) opportunity that required fast action and extreme creativity.

Armed with a small digital camera and a map, Natalie carefully marked a driving route that enabled her to drive to every store in the chain in one day, photograph herself in front of each location, interview an employee for an interesting quote and get a picture of herself eating a piece of cake ( it was the store’s 10th birthday). All of this material went into a photo montage and Power Point presentation that she assembled for the CEO of the store chain.

But that wasn’t all. Natalie dug up consumer research that compared the chain and its competitors and put a compelling fact on each page of her slide presentation along with pictures of herself at each of the ten stores. Each slide essentially said “Here’s what I know about you. Wouldn’t you like to meet someone who is practically a member of your “tribe” already?”

All of that was sent by email directly to the CEO along with a phone message to let her know it was waiting in her in-box. Just to be sure that the CEO heard about her from multiple sources, Natalie had a colleague email the CEO to suggest she thought Natalie was a serious candidate. The results came within 24 hours of the presentation and resume being sent – an email directly from the CEO asking Natalie to call and schedule an interview.

Will this approach guarantee an interview, much less a job? No, but can you afford to continue to approach your target employers just like 98% of all the other applicants? Not in this market.



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