Charting A Future Course

As a candidate and interviewee we all stride in attempting to make our experiences and backgrounds as unique and marketable as possible.  When you are one of many, you are looking for a way to stand out from the crowd.  In a final interview your uniqueness is something that can ultimately make you the winner in the employment marathon.  Please note that I use the term unique in a positive manner.

It is vital to make a memorable impression in the first few minutes of the interaction.  You want the decision-makers to think of you as certainly someone distinctive and not the “run of the mill” candidate for this very special position.  To achieve memorable status you do need to be prepared to present “your brand” and direct the conversation to a place where you are comfortable in sharing your thoughts about yourself and your ideas for the future of the organization you are hoping to lead.

To succeed in an interview you must have done your homework.  Obviously you will never know all the peccadilloes within an organization but you must provide an image of knowledge while also being comfortable enough to ask questions.  Relevant questions can also provide a positive image for the candidate; it gives the decision-makers the impression that you did your homework while not coming to conclusions that may not be on target.

A unique and tangible means for search committees to remember you is to provide them a peek into your thinking process and how you analyze situations.  I would advocate for your consideration – a packet of materials that is not much different than a sales presentation that you would be distributing during a sales pitch.  This slickly packaged and formatted packet should include:

*  Resume

*  LinkedIn Profile

*  References

*  Any articles and positive treatises that may have been written about you and your abilities.

*  A blog or article you may have authored that can describe your management style or Leadership abilities.

*  A well-written 30 or 60 day Plan of Work that you will follow upon being hired.

The Plan of Work is key to answering some of the questions that may come up during the interview process.  By putting down on paper your thoughts about how you will proceed right after your start date gives the impression that this opportunity is more than just your usual “run of the mill” job.  You are aggressively pursuing this job and it is a position that you believe is right for you and most importantly a great match for both parties.

You want to be as specific as possible in your Short Term Plan of Work; in many ways this is your game plan for your early tenure on the job and as we all know – those first few weeks on the job are vital for what is to come.  A Plan of Work answers the usual interview question:  What are your impressions of this organization and what would you do to improve it?  Again, with a document in hand it is important to provide the decision-makers the impression that you are a serious thinker and that you have already contemplated this question rather than the usual impromptu answer that most candidates provide to such an inquiry.

The advantage to such a packet is that you have already organized your battle plan for the interview.  You have contemplated some of the interests that you know will come into play and you have put all your experiences and plans for the future right in front of the search committee in a professionally packaged portfolio to see.  Such a packet will give you a sense of comfort going into the interview because for a change you will be able to emphasize your thoughts regarding the organization and your abilities while still spending prep time getting ready for that usual question out of right field.

And don’t forget the take away aspect of the interview.  You have provided the decision-makers with something to consider about you.  All the other candidates – they only have a resume and personally handwritten notes from the search committee members to remember you by, but for you they can assess your abilities with a document that is impressive and is of professional caliber.

To get the attention of a search committee you must find a way to be different.  Planning and thinking of the future of the organization is a positive means to getting that attention.  The sales packet with a Plan of Work might not be appropriate for every job opportunity available to you, but it certainly is a great approach to organizing your thoughts for what could be a memorable and positively decisive interview.

Dan Borschke is a Certified Association Executive (CAE) who has been a CEO for 3 distinct trade associations in his career.  He is one of only 230 Association Executives worldwide who has been granted the prestigious designation of fellow by the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE).  He currently is between positions and has taken the opportunity to author more than 75,000 words or 125 blog postings on the topics of job search, career transition and association management.

Copyright:  MMXI.  Reprint of this article is permitted if the above paragraph is included.

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