When answering questions on job interviews you would be surprised how many executives say they are “good on their feet,” that they think quickly. Most do not. If it only were so.
I was working with an outplacement client. She had the networking piece down pat but she struggled with telling her story. She actually had a great story to tell but she fumbled and self-edited her way to being eliminated from multiple searches. She was perplexed. With rejection came frustration; she thought she was quick on her feet but she wasn’t, she came to the table grossly unprepared.
During my recruiting career I have found that often there is one thing executives are NOT very good at doing is interviewing.
Those of use who are out in the market trying to find capable leaders to lead community hospitals are hopeful that our candidate pools will step up and hit the ball out of the park. Recruiters, both internal and those at search firms, are looking for a reason to hire someone. We just wish candidates would come to the table ready to sell themselves in a credible way, with a defined value statement and quantifiable evidence of their successes. But most do not.
So, if you are an executive in the marketplace looking for a new leadership position and you are complaining about recruiters or the process, my sincere advice is to please stop. I admit that many recruiters are terrible communicators. They are unbelievably negligent in returning telephone calls. You are right there, but candidates who let this become an excuse for their struggles in a search for their next job are dodging an important question: why are you allowing this to be the excuse that cripples your job search?
Find an outplacement coach you trust. Ask your former employer who is ushering you to the door, to pay the tab to help you improve and to find your next better position. Then hire a coach who can teach you how to do a better job interviewing. A lot of people understand networking but the key to success is learning how to tell your story more effectively.
© 2018 John Gregory Self
Today’s Big Idea focuses on the frustrations and pain experienced by executives looking for work and battling an increasingly automated job applicant processing system. I will offer some suggestions on what you can do to beat the system.
Earlier this week I was following a conversation thread on LinkedIn. Several executives were writing about their frustrations regarding the recruiting process.
These executives were clearly frustrated with that part of the recruiting system. “I feel like a piece of meat,” one man complained. “This is really degrading.”
I sympathize with any executive who feels trapped in the morass of job boards, online submissions and nary a live person with whom they can speak. The number of executives who are frustrated with the process of finding a new job is substantial, even if you rely on just anecdotal evidence.
You add the feelings of rejection that come from being ignored or turned down and it is easy to conclude that looking for work is a painful experience.
I know, because everyday, even when I am busy with multiple search projects, I am constantly looking for new work. Those of us who recruit, consult, practice law or work any number of other professional service businesses must look for work every day to ensure there is a smooth pipeline of new business that will pay the bills. The irony is that recruiters and job candidates have something in common, we all have first-hand experience with rejection. But the only thing worse than rejection is not working.
No matter how hard I try, in my own business development and for the wonderful clients in our outplacement/career transition practice, I cannot eliminate the inevitable rejection from the business development process, and that same rule applies to looking for a job. People go to job boards, post their resume, create alerts and then sit back and wait for the emails or telephone calls to come rolling in. Of course, they don’t. Some of this rejection is self inflicted.
So here are my suggestions to beat the odds and work around the digital obstacle path that has sprung up in recruiting.
So here are some steps I take every day to ensure that I am doing what it takes to find new work.
I start at 5 AM. I constantly surprise myself that I have become an early riser. From 5 to 6:30 AM I read, reflect and write — blogs, podcast scripts or work on my second book. I look for ideas that challenge and inspire my point of view.
At 6:30 AM I shift gears and I plan my day, the people I should call to look for work and outline the tasks I feel that must be completed to keep my current engagements on track. I put all this down in my SelfJournal — no, it is not a namesake creation. It is a wonderful productivity tool. And then, and this is very important and central to my staying focused, I write down the three things I am grateful for every morning. Finally, at the end of the day, after recording my wins and losses along with lessons learned, I journal those three things about which I am grateful. Writing these things down helps me stay disciplined and focused on my goal — delivering great service and finding new work.
Thanks for listening. See you next week.
© 2018 John Gregory Self
The following post is from the SelfPerspective podcast which aired on June 19, 2015
“When I was young I fell in love with stories…”
~ “Projectionist”, Sleeping At Last
The love of stories is an important quality for writers, movie producers and directors, preachers and chief executive officers.
This leadership quality is an especially important asset for executives in an industry undergoing transformative change with consolidations, layoffs, early retirements and job restructuring. Employees must buy in to the myriad of changes that frequently includes the reshaping of the vision and operating culture of the enterprise. The art of communication, the ability to share a new vision in a way that helps employees to embrace change intellectually and emotionally is extraordinarily important. It can well mean the difference between success or failure.
Employees want a leader they can trust, someone they can look up to, someone they can follow. A leader who is adept at weaving meaningful stories through her or his communications has a better chance at galvanizing those employees. Changing an organization’s vision and culture is one of the most daunting challenges a CEO can face. Many have tried and failed because they did not understand the importance of having a communications strategy, or the importance of how a message is delivered.
Just as a preacher or speaker uses stories to capture the imagination of a congregation or audience, leading them on an enthralling journey to a place where they can achieve acceptance, savvy leaders must perfect those skills to maximize buy-in. If you polled any organization undergoing transformative change, many employees, all things considered, would just as soon leave things just the way they are, thank you very much; however, a substantial number are open to change if you can show them that the way forward will be a rewarding journey.
One of the premier leadership coaches today, Patrick Lencioni, is first and foremost a master storyteller who crafts his books as easy-to-read parables that lead his audience to acceptance of a concept that will nourish personal or team success, as well as point the way to achieve change.
I first read The Five Temptations of a CEO at a time when I was struggling to run a complex regional emergency medical services company that was undergoing a stem-to-stern redesign that shattered the existing mission, vision and culture of the business. The CEO in Lencioni’s parable believed he was failing in his first CEO assignment, just as I felt that I was failing with what I came to believe was a next to impossible task. However, his story telling first captured my interest and then my imagination. Finally, it led me to an understanding of what I should do, and that is when I conducted my first executive search and found a new passion in my career.
I identified my replacement, one of the top emergency medical service executives in the field, a man that our EMS consultant said never leave his current employer. The consultant was brilliant in many ways but he was wrong about the candidate who retired in my old job more than 18 successful years.
Stories in the hands of savvy leaders are powerful tools.
© 2018 John Gregory Self