Reprinted with permission of Adage Blog – Guest Post by Paul Slezak, RecruitLoop
A few years ago, I had a colleague who, if she was ever asked the question “so what do you do?”, would come up with any other profession in order to avoid admitting she was a recruiter.
Don’t get me wrong here. She certainly wasn’t ashamed of being a recruitment consultant (and she was a very good one at that).It’s just that when she wasn’t at work, she didn’t want complete strangers throwing themselves at her to try to help them find a new job.
She’d tell people sitting next to her on planes that she was a button designer for Country Road or even that she was the person responsible for naming the colours for Dulux Paints.
I once took her along as my guest to a networking event and we decided to run an experiment. If we were asked (and at a business networking event we knew we would be), I would be honest and say I ran a recruitment business. Danielle decided (for that particular evening) that she would be a ‘trend hunter’ working for a leading cosmetics group that she couldn’t disclose.
Sure enough within the first 10 minutes (I’m not exaggerating here), one person had told me how his son had been let go from five jobs in two years and asked whether he could send me his CV; and another woman told me that she thought (quite adamantly) that her husband should get a new job and that she’d definitely get him to give me a call. They both quickly moved on to work the room clearly in search of others who might be able to help their family members resolve their career dilemmas.
On the other hand, I watched closely as my cosmetic trend hunting ‘colleague’ had managed to create quite a gathering and had people listening intently as she described the lipsticks and mascaras of the future! They were intrigued, some even suggesting companies she should contact as part of her upcoming ‘research’.
One thing our somewhat mischievous experiment proved was that by having something unique and interesting to talk about, people were seriously keen to listen.
Mature age workers all have their own interesting story to tell … of a career filled with anecdotes, life experiences, and tales of jobs past.
However unfortunately many mature job seekers spend far too much time asking for (often) generic advice as opposed to presenting a compelling story as to why someone should hire them. This is usually the result of a lack of confidence or fear of embarking on something new or different.
Think about your greatest achievements – not only your professional accomplishments, but your personal ones too. And don’t limit them to your most recent position or to just the last few years. Think back as far as you can.
Now you need to create the compelling story around how you felt at the time; what skills or personal attributes resulted in your achievements; and above all how you see the skills you have developed over the years as well as your competencies helping you aspire towards new accomplishments in your next role.
I’m certainly not suggesting you create a fake personality like my colleague Danielle. But you not only need to ask yourself why someone would hire you. Before that will ever happen you need to ask yourself why someone would listen to your story – whether it’s during an interview or simply during your information gathering or research into potential opportunities.
When a potential employer is listening intently to what you have to say, they then start to think about how you could fit into their business. If you spend too much time asking for advice from contacts and prospective employers without a compelling story of your own, you’ll soon find yourself with a lot of advice but no real concrete opportunities.
So think about your achievements; build your compelling story; now get out there and pitch your story to as many people as you can. Intrigue your audience. Don’t let them quickly move on to work the room in search of their next superficial conversation.
By the way, in case you’re wondering … I really am one of the co-founders of Recruit Loop. Although I’ve often thought about what it would be like to be the person who names all the items in an Ikea catalogue!