This is the first post on a new series of squirrelly career advice floating around on social media. My opinions are based on my 25+ years from the hiring manager’s perspective on how to differentiate your expertise from other candidates in the job market.
There’s no doubt about it, career advice is as freely given as is political commentary these days because everyone has an opinion about everything. Some are learned and informed; others are not so. Many of the career discussion forums on social media are populated with well-intentioned people who feel compelled to dole out career advice, often citing a single instance from their own career journey as a foundation for their counsel to others.There may indeed be an acorn of wisdom embedded in some of those posts (I’ll forego the old saying about a blind squirrel here…).
First up, the stale, old, passé advice for “sending a thank–you note to the hiring manager.” Here’s an example from a job seeker discussion group: “I haven’t heard back from the hiring manager after my interview…what should my next move be?” The responses overwhelmingly suggested sending a thank-you note to the hiring manager. Sure, go ahead and follow that advice–that everyone else is doing. That doesn’t differentiate you from all the other thank-you notes the hiring manager receives. When someone tells you to do something that everyone else is doing, stop and reconsider that advice to ask yourself: “Does this advice bring my résumé to the top of the pile? Does this advice differentiate my expertise in a positive light and put me on the hiring manager’s short list?”
Think about it: a hiring manager has a need he or she is trying to fill or has problems in need of a problem solver. You have offered your expertise to be that problem-solver and you are sending them a thank-you note?? Where’s the logic in that? Proper business etiquette rules suggest they should be sending you a thank-you note for sharing how you can help them.
You want to continue to share how your expertise differentiates you from other candidates after interviews are over. You want to keep your name fresh on the minds of hiring managers, not stuck in the middle of the deck with everyone else. You do that by following up with the hiring manager with a written one-page “case study” of some related project challenge you had a hand in resolving. Maybe a week or so later you again follow up with a copy of an article you had published in a peer-reviewed journal. You want to build familiarity with your name and expertise in the hiring manager’s mind. Repeated exposure to your name and expertise after interviews have concluded does this. Cognition theory (and test marketing) affirms that establishing familiarity with a brand creates a preference for that brand.
I’ve blogged about embedding your brand in the minds of hiring managers and I go into detail on the exact process (“The Trojan Horse Technique”) in my books. I’ll refer you to those resources for more details.
Thank you for reading this post.
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My name is Donn LeVie Jr. and I’m a former hiring manager for Fortune 500 companies (Phillips Petroleum, Motorola, Intel Corporation, and others) and have worked in the federal government (NOAA) and in academia as an adjunct faculty lecturer in the Department of Natural Sciences and Mathematics for the University of Houston (Downtown Campus). I am the author of Strategic Career Engagement(September 2015), Runner-Up of the 2016 International Book Award for Business: Careers, and the book that reset the rules for successful job and career strategies: Confessions of a Hiring Manager Rev. 2.0 (June 2012, Winner of the 2012 Global eBook Award and Winner of the 2012 International Book Award for Jobs/Careers).
I lead career strategy seminars (for job seekers and for hiring managers wanting to know how to spot talent) at conferences, business/trade schools, colleges and universities, and U.S. military veterans organizations. I also offer a Career Engagement Evaluation subscription program to associations as a member benefit.
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