WorkWise: Make interview leave-behinds smart

culp@workwise.netMay 20, 2012 

Many job seekers over-rely on resumes and cover letters to grab and keep an employer’s attention. These same people underestimate the power of compelling interviews, persuasive thank-you notes and effective follow-up. Outside of creative fields, very few give a one-page leave-behind a thought. “Sending something after is nice,” remarks Matthew Cantwell of Akron, Ohio (matthewcantwell.com.), who’s job hunting in digital media sales. “But the sooner the better. Leaving a reminder behind during the interview still beats immediately after it.”

This tool reinforces your potential value to a company. “It needs to be creative in a way that speaks to the (particular employer),” comments John Follis, president of Follis Inc., a Stamford, Conn., advertising firm.

PLAN

No idea how to get the “meat” for one? “Think from a marketing perspective,” Follis advises. If you’re not a natural marketer, consider Cantwell’s method.

People know about elevator speeches, the 30-second commercial they present anywhere, any time. Cantwell says to visualize being in an elevator with six other people, dressed about the same, meeting the same interviewer and presenting similar resumes. “Identify your standout feature,” he suggests. “Mine is creative thinking that leads to developing a specialized network of buyers.”

Still no ideas? “If you have relevant work examples that don’t contain proprietary information,” explains Lynne Sarikas, MBA Career Center director at Northeastern University in Boston, Mass., “leave a copy behind. This could be a project plan you developed and implemented, a brochure you worked on or a staff training schedule you developed.”

Knowing what the employer really wants may help you target your thinking, too. “Show what you’ve done (in that area),” she recommends. “Don’t share confidential data. They’re a huge red flag. Employers would worry about your willingness to share their information. Avoid sharing financial details. Instead, you might bring industry or competitive analysis.”

Your impact will be far greater with a single document, Sarikas indicates, rather than a pile of materials. Let it be your “show and tell.”

DEVELOP

Follis developed three tools in the same format – six ads, his name and his phone number. “I had to figure out a simple, memorable, effective way of keeping my work in front of employers,” he says. Two years later the telephone rang. The almost-forgotten interview became a major game-changer, leading to a freelance job and a career that skyrocketed.

He advocates “focusing on the work you do. Distill the best of it.”

That’s exactly what job hunter Cantwell is doing, tailoring one page to his industry. “Digital media is very driven by information,” he says. “My leave-behind simplifies it with mapping and infographics. It’s designed as a metro transit map or bus route map, with buses and bus stops. I use street names as the years, such as 2008th Street and 2011th Street,” to showcase relevant annual sales. This one-sheet spotlights his $2 million to $4 million sales to large companies that generate $100 million or more per year.

“I know how to get people to buy and spend money,” he mentions. “I tried to combine my years of experience with my impact on revenue. I’m trying to say I’m moving further and further up on the revenue scale for you.”

Follis cautions against being so creative or wacky when you create a tool that you seem unprofessional. He points out that you might need help. “Regardless of the situation, there’s always a creative solution,” he says.

Dr. Mildred L. Culp welcomes your questions at culp@workwise.net © 2012 Passage Media.

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