The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”
– Benjamin Franklin
First, let me clarify the headline above….You can get any job you want…..within reason. And I will show you how with a 4 step process. You must have a preparedness to try something different. My methods in the mainstream will likely be viewed as avant-garde.
How can I get any job I want, I hear you say! Yes the headline sounds fictitious but hear me out. Some jobs need credentials and paper qualifications. And this is normally the prerequisite for academic industries like law and medicine. A lot of applicants will fuss over getting the right credentials and looking the part on paper.
But companies don’t necessarily play the same game. I have seen some job vacancies attract over 100 applicants. The easiest way to trim the list is to use filters. Degree / qualifications, 5+ years experience, can play a ukulele are just some of the common filters recruiters and hiring managers use. 5+ years experience is usually assumed as a safe bet someone knows what the hell they are doing.
So what can you do? I have distilled it down to one thing:
- Solve their problem.
If you can prove to them that you are capable of solving their problem, you go from being a commodity to scarcity.
So how do you solve their problem I hear you cry.
- Do the job before you get the job.
All the magic happens before-interview. There are so many things you can do before-interview but for the purpose of this discussion I will give you a couple of examples.
Let's say you are after a role with Telstra as an outbound sales rep and you don't have call centre or telco experience. So you create a project where you sold an internet and phone bundle. Could be to a friend, a relative, a complete stranger, whoever. Write a document explaining how you did that and the result. If it's a design role, create some mockups for the company and explain why you made those decisions.
Below is a step by step guide for you to follow. Make it your own. The project is the centrepiece but will not be as effective unless you wrap it with other elements. Just like the importance of tailoring your CV to the role and addressing cover letters to decision makers, we need to tick some boxes to ensure you maximise the impact of the project.
So without further ado check out my before-interview 4 step guide.
Step 1: Zoom in and focus on a few jobs
I know this is hard because you are used to taking a shotgun to your job search. What's the saying...you got to be in it to win it. That's total BS and a complete waste of everyone's time. While the shotgun is pretty handy and can provide some quick hits, I prefer to use a sniper rifle.
So rather than spam like 30 job adverts on Seek, instead select 3 jobs you are keen to do. So how do you assess these job ads?
- It’s OK if you’re a few years below the minimum experience level, but not TOO far below. If you’re just a uni grad, don’t go for senior level jobs that require 7–10+ years of experience. But you CAN go for jobs that require, say, 3–5 years of experience even if you only have 1
- It’s OK if your education level is a little below the required amount, but again, not too much below.
- Make sure that you can actually DO the job. You might not need credentials, but you do need the skills to get results.
Once you have identified 3 jobs move to step 2.
Step 2: Clarify & capture what you will be doing in the job
This refers to what you will be doing on a day to day basis. Position descriptions are the creation of HR departments who like to give you the hamburger with the lot. So understanding what you will be ACTUALLY doing every day on the job is key. Your goal is to prove you are the right fit. When reviewing the PD focus on tasks and responsibilities you can do right away. For example: understanding sales verification process is something you cannot do because you do not know their process. But lead generation and customer contact are things you can.
Step 3: Do one project per company
Now you have processed what the company actually expects you to do and achieve on a day to day basis. You can begin to actually do it ahead of time and prove you are the solution to their problem. So let's say you are going for a BDM role, and part of that role is contacting businesses and generating new leads. Write a sales script, contact three, pitch the business and document the results. Maybe you do a survey. Speak to 10 customers and create a slide deck about how they can improve their product or service.
Doing this is hard work and that's the secret sauce. Most people will never follow through with this outside the box approach.
Step 4: Make the approach and send your project
The key is sending it to the RIGHT person within the organisation, this is to maximise the impact. After all, you want to get noticed. If you send it to the recruitment or HR team it will likely get lost in the noise. But department managers and even CEO’s will notice the entrepreneurial approach. Some quick research online will help identify who the decision makers are. From there it's simple deduction skills to work out their work email. Now comes the important part, the email content. Here is an example:
My name is [YOUR NAME] and I noticed you’re hiring a [POSITION], and I’m interested. I thought it would be helpful for me to [insert a good description of your before-interview project] to both show my interest and the value I could bring to [COMPANY].
[Present the project here — if you just did a writeup (i.e. a design suggestion) then a link or image would do. If you pitched businesses for leads, ask if the person you’re emailing would like to be referred, etc.
Quick background on me: [insert a quick 2–3 sentence summary of your background as it relates to this job]
Thanks so much for your time — hope to hear from you regarding next steps!
But if you would prefer to wait until you have secured the actual interview before presenting the project that's cool. Just before the interview date send it to the interviewer(s). This is a sure-fire way to make sure the interview will go down well and you treated like the rock star you are. Here is a sample email:
[EMPLOYEE NAME] mentioned that I’d be chatting with you on [DATE] as part of my interview for the [POSITION] at [COMPANY]
[Present the project here (insert link, ask if they’d like to be introduced to a potential customer etc)]
Just thought I’d sent it over now in case you’d like to chat about it during the interview (if you think it would be appropriate, of course).
I can hear the many voices in yelling in protest “This wouldn't work in my field, my field is different”
Ahhh no it's not. Unless you are a brain surgeon, rocket scientist, astronaut or UFC fighter this will work in most fields. At the end of every job vacancy is a problem begging to be solved. And they are more likely to hire someone that is already trying to solve it. You will definitely stand out in a sea of applications, each looking similar to the last. For the employer this is much better than a toss of a coin on a candidate who might solve the problem they have. What have you got to lose by giving it a crack? If the project goes unanswered well f&*k them, they probably have a crap culture.
The ingredients to the secret sauce is to do the opposite of what everyone is doing, put in some hard work upfront and you could land that dream gig you thought was out of your league.
Ryan Delon is the General Manager of Talentscope , a boutique recruitment firm to the Property, Construction & Technology sectors. They are expert talent acquisition specialists who have a knack for identifying and acquiring technical, hard to find talent. They combine digital marketing, analytics and recruitment craft to engage and interact with talent much earlier. Ryan has over 10 years of recruitment & HR experience and has worked for numerous startup businesses. He is a founding partner of three startups, two of which have been acquired.