I ran into a colleague a couple of months ago, a senior vice president of operations, someone I had recruited years ago. He was networking for a job. He was approaching month 14 of his transition, which is to say he was into month four of drawing from his retirement savings to pay the bills.
That I was shocked would be an understatement. Ten years ago when I recruited him for a regional health system, he was head and shoulders above the other candidates who were competing for the position. In discussing his transition he assured me that his performance was stellar but following a merger with another small regional health system, he lost his job. His boss decided to take an attractive payout and the new CEO wanted his COO in the role.
His transition story sounded familiar: In addition to a year’s salary, he was provided outplacement support. He explained that other than having a resume writer construct a new “modern” resume, getting some help on formulating his exit statement and weekly calls with an “Outplacement Navigator” regarding networking with some job leads, that was the extent of his career transition support. That agreement expired six months earlier and he had only sporadic contact with his navigator who had moved on to help other out of work executives.
How much emphasis did they place on interview coaching? “Very little,” he responded, “but I think I’m OK there. I do fairly well making public presentations.”
Except that wasn’t exactly his strong suit. Being a good speaker and excelling in a job interview are two very different skill sets. In a mock interview I conducted with him, using a specific job opportunity scenario that included challenges and a list of performance expectations, my old friend fell short, way short. He was fine telling me about what he had done — where he worked and what he had accomplished, which was fine for an interview 10 year ago, but not for today. He was not able to convey his value to my mythical client, to connect his experience and successes with conversation regarding how he would go about addressing the client’s needs. His statement that the employer should be able to figure it all out reflected that he was out of touch with the today’s radically new job search environment.
After some intensive coaching and a follow-up mock interview session he called to report that he was a finalist for two positions, CEO and COO roles. He is now a CEO of a 275-bed hospital, a career-long ambition.
As you start this journey remember this: today’s job market is vastly different than the one we had even five years ago.
If you find yourself in the job market, or you are planning the next step up in your career, engage a transition coach who has personal experience in hiring executives, someone with the skills and knowledge to help you develop your value brand statement (aka, the value proposition) and who will invest the time it takes to help you become an effective storyteller, an executive who can master the art of the job interview.
If you have questions about improving your interview skills, email me at CareerTransitions@JohnGSelf.Com. We help executives accelerate their job search.
Recruiting Leaders, Guiding Careers