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What Problem Needs Solving? May 21, 2009

Posted by Tim Rodgers in job search, Management & leadership.
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I had a great conversation with a recruiter friend earlier today. This guy has become one of my trusted advisors — a member of my personal “board of directors” whose advice I value. I described some of my recent experiences on the job search, and specifically how hard it can be to stand out from the crowd of applicants, many of whom appearing to be equally-qualified. He reminded me that basic people and program management skills are the minimum ante. Everyone who’s been in the profession of management for awhile can produce stories of how they led teams to technology breakthroughs, or significant cost savings, or quality improvements, or on-time delivery of complex projects while juggling various demands and constraints. Hiring managers have heard all that before, and that’s not going to be enough these days.

I think what’s more valuable to an organization is someone who has the ability to recognize what’s needed or what’s missing, what’s not working or what needs fixing, and then lead the way to develop and implement the necessary changes. Obviously that’s hard to figure out when you’re a job seeker standing outside the organization. If you’re lucky, the interview process might reveal that you’re the square peg they need to fit into their square hole. You can improve your odds significantly if you can use publicly available information and some personal networking skills to understand the likely issues facing your target company, then present yourself as the person with the right skills and experiences to tackle those challenges. To some degree it’s re-framing yourself, but really it’s recognizing that their square hole isn’t so square after all.

It’s not how well you fit the job description, it’s what you can do to solve their problem.



1. careeressentials - May 22, 2009

Hi Tim – I think you and your recruiter friend are absolutely right. With so many job seekers competing for the same job, hiring managers have the luxury of being picky. They are now looking for those who understand the current needs and environment of their company. Research is vital if you want to stand out in an interview.

It can even be used to determine which achievements to include on a resume. Make your resume fit the problems and needs of a company and you’ll stand out.

Great reminder.

Kris Plantrich

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