What is a “consultant mindset”? And what does it have to do with finding a new job?
Some of my colleagues will boo me for this, but based on the success of some of my clients over the past year, presenting a resume first is not always the answer.
Instead, find work by leveraging the mindset of a consultant.
In other words: present solutions first, then your resume. In fact, if you have a clear, well thought-out approach, and present short and long-term solutions to employers, a resume will be an afterthought. (Look at your keyboard, and now look at me in disbelief, and repeat. I know this is hard to imagine.)
You’re the humble superhero in consultant garb. You have felt the passion for this industry for a long time. You’ve read hundreds of articles and at least a dozen books. You’ve attended workshops, regional events and national conventions. You’ve stalked the industry leaders. You have piloted several projects with people you know… people who know even more than you do.
And now, with all this know-how, you have some ideas. You’ve seen what some companies have done well. You’ve seen what has failed. And with a consultant mindset, you know the right solution.
That’s right: be a consultant, not a job seeker.
I’ve said it for years now. Mark Jaffe, a nationally recognized recruiter has said it. Many others have said it. Stephen Covey said it. In fact, my points below were inspired by him. You can’t be everything to everyone, but you can be the perfect solution to THE one, and be audacious doing it.
Be Prepared to Do Something Different
Use the popular social media networks to read the thoughts of your targeted company influencers. You will surely find the aches and pains of the company there. One way is to call the target or prospective company’s call center and pretend to be a customer. When you can speak to customer issues and concerns in any setting, you will score (customer service reps are known to cough up the goods!)
Write a Contribution Statement
Your contribution statement, which looks and acts more like a plan resulting from research, is much deeper than a cover letter. It is a current state report to help you sound more impressive than any job seeker can. Done right, you’ll sound downright intentional. You will hear many coaches and career thought leaders say: “Look for the un-posted job opportunity.”
And, yes, that is much harder work than going to a job board like everyone else does. I didn’t say it was easy, but that’s the consultant solution-oriented life.
Be Humble and Modest
Any inquiry to a company must be humble and modest, so double check for tone. Confidence is needed, but humility will open the ears of your target audience. That is not to say be mousy and shy, of course. Strike the right balance, and your subject matter expertise will rise to the top. It is best to practice your delivery with an experienced person to ensure you come across as a humble officer reporting what is really happening on the battlefield.
Use the Actions of Competitors as Leverage
Find out what’s going on with your prospect’s industry and competitive forces. When possible, compare and contrast what the competitor is doing against your target company. Even if it’s a call center position, you can show through a grid or spreadsheet what you’ve noticed and solutions you offer.
Be Courageous and Creative
There are times when you must be audacious in your approach. When faced with rejection (that “no” too many job seekers get, every day), it might be time for tactful directness. No, this is not something taught in schools; it’s more intuitive. Sometimes it’s asking the extra question that makes the other person really think. Other times, it is assertively offering an opinion. You’ll know when the time comes.
Put yourself in a position to discover and experience problems. Focus on relationship building with the perspective and become familiar with the company’s culture and its challenges. Present a solution that solves the problem. Present your solution in a way the prospective employer can quickly identify with.
That is how you leverage the consultant mindset. And today, that — not your resume — will help you win your job search.
About the Author: Mark Anthony Dyson is a career consultant, host & producer of “The Voice of Job Seekers podcast, and Founder of the blog by the same name. Download our podcast on iTunes and Stitcher, and many other podcatchers. We are helping the unemployed, underemployed, and under-appreciated job seekers find and create a voice through this platform. Follow Mark on Twitter!