What Fires Can You Extinguish?
Right Personal Product + Right Situation = Hired!
Tom received a great job offer yesterday. The offer included an increase in Tom’s compensation and the career advancement opportunity he was seeking. He is meeting this morning for a weekly breakfast with fellow job seekers, Mary and Bill. Mary, Bill, and Tom lost their jobs as a result of their former employer’s restructuring three months ago. They formed a mutual job search support group to share job leads, job search experiences, and network connections. Tom can’t wait to share his good news with Mary and Bill.
Mary: Tom, you are blushing! Did you get a job offer?
Tom: Yes, I did. It is a great offer. The position pays 20% more than I was earning at our former employer. My new boss informed me that he will be retiring next year and that my performance could position me to be his successor.
Bill: You are a lucky duck!
Tom: It is more than luck. It was getting connected to a situation that needed what I can do.
Mary: How did you do that?
Bill: Yeah, what’s the magic?
Tom: Do you remember the resume preparation sessions we had with the outplacement consultants during the first week after we were downsized?
Mary: That took a lot of reflection on my qualifications, experience, and accomplishments. I have submitted my resume for a lot of job openings and given it to many people. I was not getting interviews that resulted in job offers.
Bill: We shared our experiences over a lot of cups of coffee during the last three months.
Tom: I had several networking discussions with people with whom I worked or worked for. Some of them were vice presidents who could hire me. The discussions were enjoyable. We talked about the things we accomplished and reminisced about the challenges we overcame. Each of the discussions ended with “I do not have any openings right now that match your qualifications and experience, but I will keep my eyes and ears open for opportunities for you.” I never heard anything else from them.
Mary: I have had the same experience.
Bill: So, have I. Let’s get back to Tom, the man of the hour.
Tom: I decided to take a step back to contemplate on how I was conducting my job search. I asked myself, “Who would want to hire me?” That question opened a new way of viewing my job search. I realized that I was trying to extinguish fires where there was no fire or that I did not have the right solution for the fires. In other words, the people with whom I was connecting did not need what I could offer.
Mary: Keep going.
Tom: I decided to ask a friend, John Watson, for advice. John is a headhunter who specializes in executing searches for financial executives, especially for positions that require expertise in SEC reporting regulations. John told me that he does his prospecting for search opportunities by identifying triggers.
Tom: Triggers are events, factors, and circumstances that create situations that call for certain individual skills, capabilities, and strengths. An example that John related to me was a search engagement he landed for a director of financial reporting. He did his prospecting by focusing on two situations. One situation was companies that had been fined or cited for not complying with SEC financial reporting rules. The other was companies that had decided to go public, list their securities on a stock exchange. John connected with individuals in venture capital and privately-held firms that had announced decisions to go public. Lo and behold, he connected with a European company that was entering the United States and wanted to have its stock listed on an exchange. Tom made a call on the company. He got the search assignment.
Bill: How did you apply what you learned from John to your job search?
Tom: I have an excellent track record implementing SAP supply chain solutions. The projects I have led delivered the promised benefits and were completed on time and within budget. The people with whom I was talking were in companies that had successfully implemented SAP supply chain solutions. They had no need for me. That’s why our discussions ended with the “eyes and ears open” comment.
Mary: Tom, you are on a roll! Keep talking.
Tom: I asked myself “What situations would cry out for me?” I came up with some ideas that included businesses that were being spun off from companies and needed to have a supply chain solution implemented; business with different supply chain solutions that were being merged or consolidated and needed to have a single supply chain solution; and companies who were on versions that SAP would no longer support.
Bill: This is making a lot of sense.
Tom: I connected with firms that engineered divestitures and venture capital firms that consolidated manufacturing businesses into single companies. I also talked with SAP account representatives that worked with me at our old company to identify companies that were on SAP versions that were going out of support.
Mary: And …
Tom: The offer I received was from a company that was facing the challenge of executing a major SAP supply chain upgrade. The IT vice president who was responsible for supporting the supply chain process at the company will be my new boss. He had a fire that I could extinguish.
Bill: Starting this afternoon, I am going to ensure that I have a clear understanding of my personal product and get it connected to situations that cry out for Bill.
Mary: I am going to get start this morning!
Tom understands that conducting a successful job search is like conducting a sales campaign.
He learned the importance of connecting his personal product to the right situations, situations that cry out for him.
Can you define your personal product?
Why would anyone want to hire you?
What problems can you solve?
What fires can you extinguish?
What situations cry out for you?
What triggers a need for you?
What job search experiences would you like to share with other readers?
I invite you to share your comments, experiences, and suggestions. This helps me provide information that may help you address your career opportunities and challenges.
Fields of Success offers complimentary coaching sessions. Visit the Contact page on the Fields of Success website to schedule a session.
Next week’s article will cover Make Prospects Aware of Your Product, Step 3 in the Personal Selling Process.
Linwood Bailey is a career coach and the author of The Business of Me: Your Job … Your Career … Your Value. The Business of Me provides a career management process and information designed for today’s business professional. Since 2008, Linwood has enabled business professionals to manage their careers. Linwood, the been there coach, provides innovative career management solutions derived from his 34 years of experience managing functions and people in multiple industries, regions, and corporate cultures.
Founder, Fields of Success, LLC
Enabling professionals to convert career challenges into career success stories.
Our careers are our most important economic asset.