Lose the resume, land the job

Leadership + Management Career + Application


Contrary to us mere mortals top executive search consultants have sat through hundreds of job interviews. Therefore it is worth listening, when Gary Burnison, top headhunter and CEO at Korn Ferry, suggests how to prepare for a successful job hunt and to “Lose the Resume, Land the Job”.*

His main message is: “Where you’re going is far more interesting to your next boss than where you’ve been.” Too many job candidates, though, focus on the past. Burnison suggests five things to do to ace the next job interview:

Accomplishments, not activities: No one wants the description of your current job, your accomplishments in the position, though, speak volumes. “Prepare and rehearse specific examples and tell a brief story that shows how you’ve made a difference to your company and the customers it serves”, says Burnison.

What gets you up in the morning? “Of all the qualities I’m looking for, motivation tops the list.” Leaders aren’t looking for the smartest people. (A study found that those with the highest IQs aren’t necessarily the best hires, especially for a leadership position.) Rather, they are looking for someone savvy and authentic, who fits into an existing culture.  “Be able to showcase your motivation by talking about what you’re passionate about.”

Master the Small Talk:  Whether your next interview includes a “kitchen chat” or you spend a minute or two with a “getting to know you question”, you need to be a master of small talk. Be comfortable giving short responses (30 seconds, maximum) about where you’re from or your family (which can mean anything from family of origin to your children). And, don’t be afraid to ask the same questions of the interviewer (although never become personal until the interviewer does). This give-and-take shows your comfort and confidence and sets the tone for a successful conversational interview.

Know the Company and the Position: It’s astonishing how many people can’t give a straight answer when questioned what they know about the company and the position they apply for. Do your homework: read the company’s website, press announcements, earnings announcements (if the company is publicly traded), and analyst reports on the company or industry. Look up the LinkedIn profile of the person you’re meeting.

Culture Fit: The more senior the position being filled, the more the interviewer will emphasize culture fit. Technical skills at a senior level are assumed - it’s all about fitting in and being able to lead and motivate others. Studies show that nearly half of new hires fail within the first 18 months, largely because of cultural incompatibility. Know yourself: Understand what suits you best, from your ideal work environment to the type of boss you want to work for. The more you know about yourself, the better you can demonstrate fit to your prospective employer.

*Gary Burnison. Lose the Resume, Land the Job, Wiley, February 13th, 2018



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