Job Hunting: Move Past the Fundamentals

The result of any candidate search is that one or two dominant candidates crush the field. The candidates who are grouped together in the back of the pack are not bad candidates, though. In fact, these candidates are quite good – they fit the background requirements, have the right credentials and do ‘all the right things’ in their interview. The problem is that when you’re a good candidate, you are a lot like everyone else in the back of the pack. Meanwhile, the dominant candidates break out, uniquely connecting themselves to the position through their personal narrative with success stories to back it up. They leave the good candidates in the dust.

The mistake that good candidates are making is they are too focused on the fundamentals of the job hunt. The fundamentals are all the things recruiters and job search sites are telling you to do: how to maximize your odds of getting your resume noticed, getting selected for an interview and making the hiring manager take a liking to you. Since everyone is getting the same advice on focusing on the fundamentals, very few are focusing on their strategy to achieve dominance.

The fundamentals should sound quite familiar:

  • Tweak your resume for each position / list accomplishments, not duties / proofread and perfect it
  • Be on time / look professional / make eye contact
  • Practice commonly asked questions / ask impressive questions
  • Send a thank you note / follow up

Focusing on these fundamentals is a way to get good, but you will never be dominant. For dominant candidates, these things come naturally. For them, the notion of practicing commonly asked questions is as silly as practicing wearing pants. Their focus is on building their legacy, networking in the space where they want to be employed and connecting their narrative to the position they want.

Good candidates could easily be dominant, but they spend their time poorly. When they get good at the fundamentals, they apply for more and more positions instead of focusing on just a few targeted opportunities. This leads to many interviews that go well but result in getting repeatedly blown out of the water by the one candidate who dominates.

So stop thinking you are going to win a job because you are really good at putting on your pants (or your dress). You have the fundamentals down cold already. Spend your time by focusing on your targeted opportunities. When you have an ultra-strong narrative and have done your research:

  • You don’t have to practice answering questions; it will come naturally to you.
  • You don’t need to contrive questions for your interviewer; they will come out without you even thinking about it.
  • You dominate the field based on your interview and are the top choice when you walk out of the room. The hiring manager will follow up with you before you even think about following up with him.

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