The best job candidates understand that the job search isn’t all about finding the right job for them, mostly it’s about making the company that’s hiring them happy, and taking their boss’s risk away.
If you are the least risky of all the candidates applying for a job, it makes it very easy for a company to hire you over somebody else.
This is the simplest way to make you seem like the most prepared and best candidate, and will separate you from every other interviewee in the current job search, and possibly every other candidate the hiring manager has ever seen.
Here’s how you can identify why a company’s hiring for a role, what they’re struggling with, and how you can create a menu of solutions that prove you’re the right person for the job.
This is similar to Ramit Sethi’s Briefcase Technique, but we’re going into more depth on how to create one then anyone ever has. Ramit suggests pulling out a piece of paper from your briefcase during the interview outlining their problems and the ways you’ll be able to solve them.
Use this strategy after you’ve passed the phone screening and are in the main interview. I’ve used it to secure 4 job offers in the last year, and close multiple freelance clients.
When to use this during an interview:
Pull this document out when the interviewer asks if you have any questions during the first in-person interview. If you end up having an online interview, you can email it to them before the interview starts — ask them to look it over as preparation.
Assuming you do even half the research that I’m about to outline, you’ll be guaranteed the job.
Structure of the Document
Write your name, phone number and company name at the top, then separate your document out into the following three categories:
In this section, write about the company’s top three problems or goals for the next year. You can get the information by asking anyone who works at the company.
At the coffee meeting, ask “are there any big goals your bosses are trying to hit this year?” You’ll be surprised how often people bluntly answer once you’ve built a little rapport.
Goals are also listed on the investor pages of publicly traded companies. The more specific to your department you can get the goals, the more impressive it’s going to look on the document.
The Job Description
You can get this from meeting with people who’ve had the job previously, or had it at other companies by asking what they did, and also by reading any posted job descriptions for your job title.
Then you want to take that information and write your own job description — a list of things you think the company you’re interviewing for is looking for.
Writing this section will show the hiring manager that you know what to expect from the job, and also shows you’ve done enough research to translate the company’s job description into actionable points.
Once you’ve done that, you’re set up for the last step:
Why I’m Right For The Job
This section is similar to a cover letter. Basically you take points from your past and translate them into ways you could help the company on the job.
To come up with a better section, it’s useful to keep a running list of big projects you’re a part of. If you don’t have one, sit down for 15-20 minutes and think about where you’ve contributed to companies in the past, or places outside the job process like volunteering or meetup groups.
Here’s how to gather the information:
1) Look at the company’s website
Try to identify what they’re strategic goals are, how big the company is, and where they want to go in the next few years.
Finding out this information on your own will make you look very prepared when you go into the next step:
2) Talk to as many people at the company as you can
Do this by searching company directories or browsing Linkedin to find people worth reaching out to, and send them an email asking them to coffee.
Once you meet with them, ask about their jobs and what they’re struggling with at work.
The goal is to get a better idea of why the company you’re interviewing is hiring: are they creating the role right now? Did they have a guy in there before who screwed everything up? Or was the last guy so good that another company took him away?
You want to figure out why they need someone to come in and do the job now, as opposed to six months ago or six months in the future.
3) Meet with people who have your position at different companies
After you’ve learned why the company is hiring, go and talk to people that have the job title you’re interviewing for at other companies, and ask about problems they’ve had on the job.
You want to do the same thing you did in the previous meetings, except now you’re figuring out what a similar company is struggling with, learning which problems you might encounter once you start working, and even some of the solutions competing companies have used to solve problems the company you’re interviewing for is currently dealing with.
4) After meeting 3-5 people, take a day to rest
Do something fun to take your mind off the interview process and let everything you’ve just learned settled in.
Graham Wallas, author of the 1929 book Art of Thought, calls it the Incubation Period, and it’s useful for any creative work. Here’s what he has to say:
Voluntary abstention from conscious thought on any problem may, itself, take two forms: the period of abstention may be spent either in conscious mental work on other problems, or in a relaxation from all conscious mental work. The first kind of Incubation economizes time, and is therefore often the better.
After a period of rest, some solutions will pop into your brain, and when that happens, WRITE THEM DOWN IMMEDIATELY.
Then, when it’s time to create the document, open up Word and follow the structure above.
Once you create this document and present it during an interview one time, it’s going to change the way you think about the job search, forever.
Let me know in the comments: Are there any places where you think this wouldn’t work? Why not? Or have you used a similar document in the past? What happened?