Stop being the runner-up candidate and close the deal!
Often when I receive a phone call from an executive it’s because they have been “on the bench” for a period of time and are frustrated that they haven’t received a job offer yet. Much of the time it’s because they are spending most of their energy searching on job boards for a new position. Let me clear the air here. If you are a Director, VP or senior level executive you are not likely to find your next position on a job board. Nearly 80% of the executive roles we hire for are confidential and are never publically posted. That means if you are an executive looking at job boards for your next position then you are missing 80% of the opportunities.
After we get past the job board discussion and begin talking about positions that the executive has not received an offer for, we can begin troubleshooting what’s happening. Here are some common symptoms and suggestions.
1. Taking the initial call spontaneously
The first contact you have with a future employer is likely with an HR person or internal Talent Acquisition staff member. Their only goal is to see if you meet the minimum qualifications for the position. If you happen to answer the phone and the caller wants to screen you right now – politely decline and schedule a call for a later time – preferably the same day. Let the caller know you are not in a good place to speak but have time later in the afternoon at their convenience.
2. Lack of preparation
When you get to the true interview stage – meaning you are meeting with executives and peers – you absolutely MUST prepare interview responses and specific questions for each individual based on their role and relationship to the position for which you are the incumbent. Simply responding with “general” answers and asking the same uninspiring questions every candidate asks won’t differentiate you in the interview.
3. Lack of focus on your resume
Almost all of the executives I talk to have this particular myth in common. “If I talk about all of my experience and everything I might be able to do, then I will appeal to a bigger audience.” The exact opposite is true. When you are at a senior level in your career you should know who you are and what you do professionally. Trying to be a “generalist” dilutes your brand and compromises your salary position.
4. Being a know-it-all
Executives are accustomed to being in the “power” position during a conversation. If you are in the interview chair you aren’t in control. Your role is to respond to the questions that are being asked without tangential explanations. Keep your answers concise and on point.
5. Failing to ask for the job
If you leave the interview without knowing how you did or what the next steps are – you’ve failed. It’s easy! Ask the interviewer how they think you match up – and then ask what the next steps will be. Don’t play “hard to get” during the interview. Let them know you want the job – go for the close!
6. Botching the salary question
I simply don’t understand why people fear this question. If you are selling a car and someone asks “what do you want for it,” don’t you answer with a number? If an interviewer asks “what is your salary requirement,” the only answer is a number (or a range between 2 numbers). You absolutely don’t ask, “what is your budget for this position?”
7. Failing to follow up
Being gracious and generous with your follow up is not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of character. Send an email thank you – the same day – to each person you’ve spoken with. Calendar your follow up tasks and stay in touch so that you don’t get to the finish line and fail to cross it.
Sitting on the bench when you really want to be in the game is frustrating and disappointing for everyone. Taking the time to troubleshoot what’s not working is a step toward success and – Closing the Deal! For a deeper dive into what’s happening with your search, visit us here!