Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Case Study: A Personal Infomercial to Land the Right Job

One of my clients resisted for so long that I told her I would stop coaching her if she didn’t use her infomercial. Her name was Jane. We first met at a hedge funds conference, where I was part of the speakers panel. When I first explained how she needed to present herself with an infomercial, she told me I was crazy. But she was unemployed, so what started as a ten-minute conversation over coffee that day turned into several meetings where we worked together to develop her infomercial.

Jane was a pretty confident woman, with almost a decade of experience working on the trading floor and excellent skills in developing client relationships. But she’d always found herself in roles where she felt she was forced to adjust who she was in order to fit in. So we started with her perfect day. Almost immediately, she found that it helped her get rid of the clutter in her head.

Jane’s perfect day:
  • Being part of a team but remaining independent enough to focus on growing my own “little business” … my client book 
  • Spending time reading the news, organizing my day, figuring out client messaging 
  • Spending time with clients, lunches/ coffees 
  • Pitching business 
  • Closing a deal

Defining her perfect day helped her to finally focus on what mattered to her, what she wanted to do, and how best to present herself. Then she worked through the rest of the questions, listing what she did best and those she worked best with and defining her conflict-resolution style. Once she had completed all the steps, she felt ready to pitch herself in a very concise manner the next time there was an opportunity.

It wasn’t long before she had an opportunity to interview for a job as the new managing director at a financial institution. She called me up. Although Jane wasn’t sure the position was right for her, she decided that in a tough job market she should at least go through the process.

Jane would typically go into the room, let those around the hiring table spew, then ask a few ques- tions and walk away. She said that she would usu- ally gauge what those doing the hiring wanted her to say, and then give them what they wanted even if it didn’t sound like her. “After all,” she said, “it’s a job.” I told her to forget that crap. “You’ll just end up unemployed in a couple of years and have to start all over again.”

I explained a different approach. I asked her to think about the fact that she was there to interview the employer as well be interviewed by them. Instead of showing up for the meeting and waiting for the others in the room to say something, I told her, take charge of the meeting. First, thank those in the room and note that they already have your CV. But then say, “I thought before we begin it would be helpful if I gave you an idea of who I am and what you should pay me for.” I advised to have her infomercial ready but to not hand it out until she had finished presenting.

Jane agreed, even though she still felt a bit uncomfortable about presenting herself in this way. On the morning of the interview, she went into a public bathroom to practise a few times in front of the mirror. She figured if anyone walked in, they’d think she was a crazy person, but she didn’t care. She went through her notes several times.

The interview began and Jane took control. She suggested to the three people around the table that she first tell them a bit about herself, what she was looking for, and that then both parties could consider if it would be a good fit. After presenting her infomercial, Jane paused. She could tell by the looks on their faces that she was not what they needed or wanted.

“That’s when I knew that there was no chance that they were going to hire me,” she said. Within a couple of days she received an email that read “You’re not the person we’re looking for.” The outcome suited Jane. When I asked, “Did you get the job?” Jane replied, “No! And I’m so happy. I never felt so empowered in my life!” Not long afterwards, she learned from friends that the company was looking for someone they could mould. “That job was definitely not a fit for me,” she said, laughing.

A few months later, Jane applied for another job. “Again, my infomercial gave me a chance to present my true character,” she said. “It gave me that foundational confidence to stick with my story.” This time the experience was completely different. Both sides felt like it was a good fit, and what started out as an interview turned into more of a discussion. But it was during the final phase when Jane knew for sure it was going to work. One of the senior people on the hiring team sat down with her for a final conversation. “If you don’t mind me saying so, it seems to me that you’re a no-bullshit ind of girl, who’s tenacious and hungry for business.” “I felt so validated,” said Jane. “That was exactly how I had presented myself in my infomercial.

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