Chapter 9 - New Rules (the complete chapter)

Follow Rules Only When Required to Do So

Now that you know what really happens to your resumé, don’t get discouraged. Use this insight to understand that you must satisfy two people — your decision-maker and their HR department. This requires you to adhere to the firm’s HR rules, but stay 100% focused on the person making the hiring decision.

Only the decision-maker counts. Once you’ve broken through and earned their attention, it’s up to them to instruct you on what rules to follow. Stick to those rules religiously, but never abandon your efforts to maintain a high level of interaction with the decision-maker.

• Again, HR plays a vital, necessary role in the job-interview process to meet the regulatory and legal obligations that protect the agency from lawsuits. But HR doesn’t know the reality of the job you’re interviewing for.

• The decision-maker is a department manager who makes this hiring decision in consultation with their agency team, because the team has to work with and get along with you on a daily basis.

• Your strategy is to minimize interaction with HR, while at the same time, make contact with the right decision-maker. Unfortunately for you, in a job-hunting situation there are a number of agency employees paid and motivated to protect the decision-maker from the likes of you. Be prepared to be persistent and pushy.

If this sounds somewhat like a “client-agency” relationship, it should.Your job is to manage your way in, make a great pitch and win the business.

Interview Game Plan

To do this, you must first attract the attention of the right decision-maker.Then do whatever it takes to get a 15-minute conversation with that person. In the last minute of the interview, you politely ask for permission to maintain contact.Then maintain high-quality, frequent contact after the interview.

Do this again and again to demonstrate your professional skills. As long as the follow-up benefits the decision-maker, and never falls into the category of begging for a job, you continue.

15 MINUTES EARLY If your interviewer is ready to start, you’ll get more face time.
14 MINUTES EARLY You can look around and judge the office mood by simple observation.
13 MINUTES EARLY You see who leaves in a huff, with a smile, or muttering obscenities.
12 MINUTES EARLY Notice how your interviewer uses the time between meetings. It’s an important cue.
11 MINUTES EARLY You’ll glance at your watch and start to worry about being late.
10 MINUTES EARLY You’re late.

Push Your Research into the Light, and Keep It There

You may have to grab the reins at some point in the interview.

You can’t do an enormous amount of applied research then allow it to lie around. It does you no good if it’s hidden in your head and you forget to mention it, or aren’t given an easy opportunity to mention it.

It’s your job to figure out how to get this research up and on the table, even if it means saying,“Thank you very much. Before you introduce me to the rest of the team, could we talk about something interesting I found while preparing for this interview? I think you may find it valuable.”

You add value at this point in the job-hunting process by giving away your brains a little bit at a time: Giving away a creative idea, an insight about a competitor, a key audience statistic, a strategic media mix idea or a high-impact public relations concept a firm used in Canton, Ohio.

This also is the basis for your high-quality, frequent contact after the interview.You will never be perceived as a pest, an unwanted caller, an irritating interruption or a job stalker if you keep this idea and point of view in mind.

You are helping someone else succeed at their job. And yes, you’re working for free.That’s the price of admission into the business.

Carry a legal- or letter-sized writing portfolio when you interview. Why?

• It makes you look professional.
• It offers a convenient place to keep your business cards at hand.
• It lets you easily take notes.
• It’s a way to carry around your applied research.
• It’s a business-like place to store the materials your interviewer gives you.
• It also gives you something to do with your hands.

Tell Them

Build a “tell-them-what-you-told-them” speech. Do this so they don’t miss your strategy, your preparation and your demonstrated passion. Sometimes your interviewer is too distracted or too tired to pay close attention. Sometimes they don’t have time to pause and recognize your strategy. It’s OK to tell them what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.

It might sound something like this:

“I just demonstrated in a concrete way my passion to work for you and win this job with my... research skills.”
(printed, highlighted pages and my head full of key facts)

...practical, street-level research skills.”
(visited the client and purchased their product)

...organizational skills.”
(by having a written list of questions — yours and mine)

...account service skills.”
(give these three photocopies to your client)

...assertiveness, initiative and proactive client approach.”
(for example, right now)

...ability to be a team player.”
(by telling you exactly what I’m up to)

“If this is what you’re looking for, then I’d like to continue this conversation at a new level.”

“If this isn’t what you’re looking for, let’s talk some more and define your criteria.”

The 15-Minute Rule

You must smoothly attempt to end your interview after exactly 14 minutes. Hopefully, you’ll be restrained by the interviewer, but if not, leave after 15 minutes.

In your follow-up efforts, remind your interviewer that you kept your word. You stuck to your 15-minute deadline.