Update Your Old Operative 'P' Words

Six new methods to maximize your job search success.

July 10, 2008
by Debra Feldman

As many CPAs have learned through trial and error, job hunting has striking similarities to a marketing project. The operative "P" words for a successful campaign are positioning, processing and persistence, followed closely by performance, personality and pricing. You, as the candidate, are the product. For you to sell yourself, your strategy has to be effective, which means focusing and developing the right approach. Your job search project may be one of the most demanding and rewarding campaigns you will ever experience.

Six Steps up the Ladder of Success

Let's look at ways you can stack the deck in your favor by increasing your knowledge and job search implementation skills.

  1. Positioning: The first step here is to identify what makes you a unique accounting and finance candidate. This means creating a message or an identity that is remarkable and memorable. What is it that you do better than others? What enables you to succeed where others don't? What do others easily remember about your background?

    This bit of specialized, personal data is your unique tagline. If you get the positioning targeted correctly, your campaign will be focused on the right market with a message that the buyer/employer will value. Once you have captured an employer's attention, then you have created a chance to demonstrate your abilities that eventually can produce a job offer, the goal of your job search campaign project.

  2. Process: The swiftest route to a new opportunity is to identify your target employers and then specify their needs in terms of how you can address them better than anyone else. Seek out a company for which you are confident you can make a positive impact. Ensure that your positioning is consistent with your most outstanding ability that an employer will instantly value. In other words, the better the match, the greater the likelihood of capturing the employer's interest. Cite ways you can save money and time, retain customers, reduce costs and increase sales or profits. This will offset their expenses of adding you to the headcount.
  3. Persistence and perseverance: Being the first candidate to impress the decision-maker gives you the competitive advantage. This means keeping in touch with recruiters and hiring managers with whom you "clicked" but did not receive a job offer. That positive interpersonal chemistry can make or break a situation in your favor. Concentrate your resources on activities with the largest return on your investment. Time and time again, industry benchmarks find that over 85 percent of executive jobs are filled through one avenue: personal referrals. Keep track of your contacts and refresh them periodically.

    Stay in touch by phone, e-mail, snail-mail, invitations, face-to-face meetings, according to the recipient preferences. Ask your contacts for advice, introductions and information. Rely on your professional network and return favors generously. Persistence in personal interactions is guaranteed to be the best way to identify a new opportunity.

  4. Performance and presentation: Make sure your resume highlights your strengths, talents and skills. If you can provide proof of your competency through a customized presentation developed especially for a prospect, you have demonstrated initiative and creativity as well as your wealth of knowledge. Show the prospective employer what you are made of by demonstrating your grasp of the concepts and your ability to use the material effectively. Put yourself out and you'll reap a competitive advantage.
  5. Personality: Interpersonal chemistry — that essential feeling of trust — plays a critical role in hiring decisions. Concentrate on getting direct hiring managers to know you and begin to cultivate their trust. Listen, rather than talk, so you can hear what is important to those hiring managers and then address their needs and minimize their concerns. Gain credibility. Focus on generating a dialogue. If there is good chemistry, the rest will follow. Your personality will facilitate networking.
  6. Pricing: Your compensation package provides a guideline to where you fit into an organization's hierarchy, how much responsibility or authority you merit and indicates the additional value you represent to the employer. Until a prospective employer is sufficiently intrigued to bring up money, don't raise this issue. Assure your target employer that if you come to an agreement in terms of your skills and their needs, then there will be a good fit and the financial details can be worked out. When you do start talking dollars, be sure to frame this in terms of a range. Rather than get into the language of closing a deal, suggest that you are prepared to show the employer that you can recoup the expense of bringing you on board through creating new income, saving this amount, retaining business, capturing new clients, increasing client loyalty, etc.

The goal of your job hunt is to find a great new career opportunity — one, that is great from both your employer's perspective and your viewpoint. To attract a targeted, prospective employer's attention, you need to putting together a unique value proposition that distinguishes you from others well qualified candidates. As you do this, remember the six P's and you will generate leads to exciting new career challenges.

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Debra Feldman is the JobWhiz™, a nationally-recognized expert who designs and personally implements swift, strategic, and customized senior level executive job search campaigns, banishing barriers that prevent immediate success. Her gift for positioning candidates and making direct contacts, executed with high energy and savvy panache, commands the attention of the right hiring decision-manager, not HR. Network Purposefully™ with the JobWhiz, and compress your job search into mere weeks, using groundbreaking techniques profiled in Forbes magazine. In addition to her private practice, writing featured columns and conducting exclusive workshops, Debra is a recommended resource to alumni of top-tier business schools. Contact Debra at www.jobwhiz.com to expedite your executive ascent. You can also reach her by phone at 203-637-3500.

© Debra Feldman, 2008