CLARKSVILLE, Arkansas — For executives in search of a job, the question of whether to prepare for job interviews or not prepare is closely akin to the query: whether you want to differentiate your brand or simply blend into the crowd of competitors seeking the same position?
The changing US economy is changing in dynamic ways and these changes will produce an increasing amount of management and executive career disruption — the result of consolidation — position realignment, expense reduction, and changing performance expectations. Not surprising, there is increasing competition for the top jobs in every sector.
The vast majority of executives spend much more time in performing their jobs than in investing in their future by building a strong brand that is enhanced by a robust network of professional contacts. This was the subject of Tuesday’s podcast: There Are Two Sides to Your Career Coin. This gap between those who do and those who don’t is producing some interesting results in the job search market. It is an issue, I believe, that executives and managers must address.
Meanwhile, I see the emergence of a related issue that is impairing candidate performance. During the course of dozens of interviews with senior executives in recent months, I have observed the emergence of another career management gap — those who can effectively communicate the value of their brand in a way that achieves maximum impact with a recruiter or potential employer and those who seem content to do what they have always done — show up and answer the questions as they are asked with little or no thought to their story or how they can connect their values with the needs of the client. This is an important challenge for most candidates entering, or re-entering, the job market.
The essential question is why does this happen when improving your brand communication — telling your story and emphasizing your value — is a skill that almost everyone can master?
There is one for certain, very few managers and executives can achieve maximum effective communication status without investing the time to prepare and practice (P&P).
Our informal research shows that those who don’t engage in a formalized P&P process before interviews do so for essentially two reasons:
- They are uncomfortable with the idea of reducing their story to writing, revising and enhancing the points to achieve maximum impact and rehearsing the presentation as well as certain recurring questions that are asked in virtually every interview. They feel it is pretentious or they mistakenly think they are experts in the job interview and do not need to waste their time. (Hint: there are very few experts since most executives don’t get that much real-time practice.)
- They do not know how to begin the process and they suffer from a form of writer’s block. Or as my beloved mother used to say, “You can’t see the forest for all of the trees.”
There is more truth to the old saying than meets the eye.
In our podcast on Thursday we will provide some suggestions to help you address this issue.