Many people approach an interview as if it were a test in which the candidate patiently waits to respond to the questions asked by the interviewer. Although some of the question / answer dialogue is required, essentially the candidate is playing on the interviewer’s home court and playing by their rules. It is easy to change the game. There is an old saying, “The more they talk, the smarter that they will think you are.” With the standard q/a format, the interviewer may ask a one sentence question, and the candidate may respond with a one paragraph or one-page response. This normal interaction is the exact opposite of the old saying.
Historically, both a candidate and the hiring company spend a considerable amount of time during the candidate selection process assessing the fit between the candidate and the requirements of the job. Today, an emphasis is also placed on the cultural fit of both parties which is probably more important in gauging the long-term success of a candidate than their actual performance.
When one starts the job search process, it is easy for this activity to become the center stage in all their thinking. Sleepless nights and playing the 'what-if' games are almost a certainty. This situation is especially true if the candidate is unemployed and relying on their severance or savings to pay the monthly bills which did not stop when the paychecks did.
Daniel, a 2013 EMBA graduate, had been searching for a new role for over 8 months after he lost his job in a reorganization. Daniel had previously worked as the Director of Mechanical Engineering at one of the largest companies in his small, midwestern city. He had lived in the area most of his life – his house and family were all rooted in the city he called home. Finding new opportunities in the area for someone with his technical expertise, in his industry, was difficult (to say the least).
Most resume preparation books and experts recommend that the resume begin with a summary of the candidate’s qualifications. Unfortunately, that approach focuses on what the candidate wants to say instead of what they want the recipient to hear! All of us have a natural tendency to think of ourselves first. With this “standard” approach, the candidate is asking the interviewer to interpret the person’s qualifications to ensure that there is a match to the position that they are trying to fill. Sometimes the resume reviewer will make the proper interpretation, sometimes not. In any event, the candidate is asking the interviewer to do the work in translating a person’s summary to their company’s needs.
There is an old corporate water cooler saying: “Your boss isn’t your boss; your boss’s boss is your boss.”
While enrolled at the Kellogg Schulich EMBA program I began looking for new career opportunities. Maximizing the global network was one of the reason I joined the program in the first place, and I was going to make the best out of every opportunity. As a current student, I received an invite to the 3rd alumni gala in November 2015. It was tempting to decline at first, because I wasn’t yet an alumnus and was worried that I wouldn’t know anyone there. But, I knew how powerful networking could be for EMBAs, so I took the plunge and accepted the invitation.
I wasn’t as alone as I expected. Other classmates in the program attended too. I wanted to make sure I mingled with the people I didn’t know to make the most of the networking opportunity while I was there. One of the key tactics in networking is to force yourself to sit with people you don’t already know. It is not comfortable but it does serve the purpose of getting to know others. At the gala, I intentionally choose not to sit with my classmates at their table, but instead to mingle with other alumni.
At the buffet, I met an alumnus two cohorts (KS12) above me at Kellogg Schulich program. We sat together and chatted over dinner. It turned out we worked in adjacent industries and we realized we had common topics to discuss and saw common technology trends. I took his business card and promised to call. While networking, another important tactic is to follow up. People are busy, especially executives, and emails can be pushed to the bottom of the pile, that is why following up and meeting for an informal chat in person or a phone call is very important. It sets the stage to create a relationship where someone can show his experience and capabilities and truly make an impression. I followed up with the other alumnus over email, and it took awhile, but we did manage to schedule a time to meet for coffee. I drove 30 minutes to meet close to his workplace because I knew it was important to have a face-to-face meeting.
Land your dream job connecting with EMBAs like you
At least 90% of executive-level jobs are never posted for open applications. How do people find and get placed in these roles? Networking.