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Career Strategy Interviews

Debra Feldman - Hidden Job Market Secrets

  

How to Get the Job You Want When You Are Not the Employer's Ideal Choice

Published on January 14 2014
Debra Feldman TotalPicture Radio interviewDebra Feldman

"...the most effective alternative is to avoid online application routes and to focus exclusively on how to Network Purposefully, essentially abandoning on line job applications in favor of one-on-one interactions, both in person and online relationships." Debra Feldman

Welcome to a special Career Strategy Channel interview on TotalPicture Radio - with Peter Clayton reporting. It's a new year and many people are determined to find a great job that truly utilizes their knowledge, skills, and passions in 2014.

Joining me today - a real expert in uncovering the Hidden Job Market - Debra Feldman. Debra is the JobWhiz™, a nationally recognized executive talent agent and job search expert known for her ability to implement strategic, customized senior level job search campaigns for her clients.

In our exclusive interview, Debra will help you to understand How to Get the Job You Want When You Are Not the Employer's Ideal Choice.

Following, here's Debra's article...

 

Read more...

The New Rules For Career Success

  

A Conversation with Uber Millennial Dan Schawbel

Premiers on September 21 2013
Karen Russo, President IIPE -TotalPicture Radio InterviewDan Schawbel

"Hours are out. Achievement is in." Dan Schawbel

 When you look at how much the job market has sucked over the past number of years, (I've stopped counting), it's no surprise that there have been a lot of "how to" books written on the topic of careers and self promotion. However, few authors have reached the level of success -- and influence -- as Dan Schawbel.

Promote Yourself The New Rules For Career Success is Dan latest book.

So how did Dan launch his new book? Good question, right? How about a global webcast with Ernst & Young LLP in New York City? How about opening the webcast with Ken Bouyer, Americas Director of Inclusiveness Recruiting, EY, who will share his perspectives as the leader responsible for developing and implementing EY's strategy to recruit a diverse and inclusive talent pool in the Americas.

How about following that up by Dan's keynote, then, have Dan moderate a panel focused on the book. The panel will bring key concepts of the book to life by addressing millennials' impact on the workforce now and in the future; describing how we can all manage the generational mix; highlighting the criteria managers seek when determining promotions; and listing creative ways professionals can enhance their own careers.

The panel included:

Valerie Grillo , Chief Diversity Officer, American Express - representing American Express' proprietary study featured in the book.
Kathryn Minshew , Founder & CEO, The Muse - representing a Gen Y perspective as one of Forbes' 2012 30 Under 30.
Karyn Twaronite , Americas Inclusiveness Officer, EY, and Partner, Ernst & Young LLP - representing a Gen X perspective.
Kendall O'Brien , Vice President, Group Finance Medical Device and Diagnostics, Group Operating Committee, Johnson & Johnson- representing a baby boomer perspective.

Now, that's what I call a kick-ass book launch. Stay tuned to hear how Dan did it!

Mary Elizabeth Bradford. Strategies for a 21st Century Job Search

  

Components of a Successful 21st Century Job Search from The Career Artisan

Published on March 07 2013
Mary Elizabeth Bradford, The Career Artisan, TotalPicture Radio Interview
Mary Elizabeth Bradford

"Most of what you have been told about job searching IS misleading, skewed, or just plain wrong."

Are you sending out resumes but not hearing anything back? Perhaps you are having trouble getting anyone to follow up with you after the first interview, have been told you are overqualified, don't have enough experience, or are worried about age discrimination?

Maybe you are wondering why it is so difficult to get a recruiter's attention or worried that there are not enough jobs and way too much competition. If your only source of job leads is job boards, you are right about the 'too much competition' thing.

Are you are frustrated because you have been in a long job search, sent out hundreds of resumes, applied to hundreds of job postings, with NO RESPONSE,  and worry that your length of unemployment has becme a red flag to potential employers . . . or maybe you long to change industries but don't know how or don't believe it is possible in today's job market.

According to Mary Elizabeth Bradford, our guest in this Career Strategy Channel Podcast on TotalPicture Radio, "most of what you have been told about job searching IS misleading, skewed, or just plain wrong." in this podcast, based on her popular Career Artisan e-book series, Peter Clayton, Producer/Host of TPR and Mary Elizabeth will help you take control of your job search. Mary Elizabeth will share with you concepts and strategies that have proven to be evergreen. and is intended to expand your mind regarding job search myths and truths and how you can control your job search now through the rest of your career!

Mary Elizabeth Bradford TotalPicture Radio Transcript

Are you frustrated because you've been in a long job search, sent out hundreds of résumés, applied to hundreds of job postings with absolutely no response and worry that the length of your unemployment has become a red flag to potential employers? Or maybe your goal is to change industries and reinvent yourself but really don't know how or don't believe it's really possible considering today's job market?

Welcome to a Special Career Strategy Channel Podcast on TotalPicture Radio. This is Peter Clayton. Joining us today is the career artisan Mary Elizabeth Bradford, an internationally certified master career director and advanced résumé writer. She's here to help all of you perplexed, exasperated and probably demoralized jobseekers.

Over the last few of years, Mary Elizabeth has published a terrific series of ebooks The titles include: • The 21st Century Resume Guide For The Perplexed (With Online Resume Templates)
• The Hidden Job Market - Proven Strategies, Done-For-You Letters & Phone Scripts
• The Career Artisan Series - Interview Follow Up Guide For The Perplexed (With Custom Letter Templates)
• The 21st Century Job Search Guide For The Perplexed. Breakthrough Strategies, Secrets & Free Resources
• Phone Networking Secrets Revealed Guide For The Perplexed. Take the Fear Out of Cold Calling When Networking & Looking for a Job (With Phone Scripts)

You can find all of Mary Elizabeth's books on amazon.com. You'll find resource links on her feature page here on totalpicture.com as well as her web site, maryelizabethbradford.com. Additionally, she's really priced this series very aggressively. You can buy one of her ebooks for less than a latte at Starbucks.

Mary Elizabeth, welcome back to TotalPicture Radio.

Mary Elizabeth: Hi Peter. Thank you so much for having me back on. I really appreciate it, and hello everybody out there.

Peter: Let's dive right in here. Like I said in the intro, Mary Elizabeth, there are an awful lot of very frustrated jobseekers out there. How can you help them and give them some immediate advice here?

Mary Elizabeth: I think I should probably explain a little bit why I feel compelled to share this with everybody. My background of experience is in Nashville, I had my own recruiting firm for eight years. I was also in the music industry as a song plugger, which helped me as a résumé writer because writing country songs is tough. But anyway after that, I became a very high level job search coach with a big outplacement agency out of Boston and I took 600 or 700 jobseekers, executives from all over the world through their whole entire job search, and in that I became a certified résumé writer. I opened up my most recent company at helping jobseekers on the jobseeker side now.

I wrote this series of ebooks because my combination of experience really enabled my value proposition to the average jobseeker to be let me just pull back the curtain here and show you what's really working.

Probably, you've seen this too Peter, where a lot of recruiters are saying the same thing - Dave Perry, John Lucht, anyone that used to be a recruiter is saying "Look guys, here's what really works. Here's what's really happening, the mechanics behind the scenes and here's some marketing strategies that you can use as a work around to make things happen for yourself."

I would say my average conversation with an individual that calls me on a daily basis is they've been sending out résumés, they're really qualified, they haven't heard anything back. Maybe they're working, maybe they're not but they're frustrated none the less, and that they're wondering what's wrong and they're calling me for a résumé.

Usually the problem is threefold, and the problem usually stems from that their marketing strategies are not effective because what do people do? They go out there on job boards. They talk to recruiters. They think networking is going and asking their friends if they know of any companies who's hiring, and we all know how well that works, right? So by the time they've run around this ring a couple of times they're freaked out, they're frustrated. They say "I'd never had to look for a job before. What in the world's going on?"

Really and truly, the problems are if you upgrade your marketing collateral and your résumé, that's definitely going to help but you've got to know the marketing strategies that are working today.

Let's just say you're about $100,000 to $250,000 a year job - and this is true for everybody but just this case in point - about 80% of those positions are not going to be advertised. There's 300,000 to 400,000 of those six figure positions filled every month in the United States; 80% of them are filled. They're gone before they ever hit a job board or they're ever in a recruiter's hands, and so you've got 95% of the jobseekers going after 15% or so of those jobs.

Your salary goes higher, that number of hidden jobs also increases. Your salary is a little lower, the amount of hidden jobs decreases slightly, but the majority of jobs are still hidden and the job board mechanism is broken. You can't blame the companies for having keyword scanning software and a huge HR department that has to handle this massive just increase of résumés, hundreds and thousands sometimes of résumés for a single position. They have to have some way to cut through that, to narrow it down. And so unfortunately for the jobseeker, that becomes a really mechanical process where if you don't have the right keywords, even if you're qualified, the chances are you're going to get screened out because ROI truly on their job board submission is less than 1%. So easily I could send out a hundred résumés for positions I was qualified for and if I heard back from one or two, I'd be doing about average.

Peter: To your point Mary Elizabeth, if you're in a job search right now and all you are doing is surfing job boards or responding to alerts that you've set up on Indeed or Simply Hired, you really are doing a disservice to yourself because as Mary Elizabeth said, all of these companies are using applicant tracking systems. You don't know what the keywords are that they've inputted. You don't even know if these are currently open jobs or they've just posted this out there and they really have an internal candidate that they have in-house that they want to fill the job but because of EEOC and just other requirements they post this job. All the career coaches talk about the hidden job market. Explain to us exactly what you mean by that and how you're able to help people through your ebooks and your coaching unlock that hidden job market that exists.

Mary Elizabeth: Absolutely. Many people will say the hidden job market is recruiters, it's networking; that's how you tap into it. My definition of the hidden job market based on my background of experience is learning how to go direct. Hidden jobs, meaning jobs that are available in companies for qualified people that don't have to be posted.

Now because there are so many jobs in the hidden job market, it makes sense for today's jobseeker to learn on a big scale, on a small scale, but in some capacity how to reverse engineer their job search so that they're going after what they want instead of waiting like a passive receiver for the jobs to come to them and responding. It really so very rarely works. So really the hidden job market, the definition of that is positions that are in companies that you gain interviews for because you went direct to the key decision maker in those companies.

Now it is easier to get your foot in the door in small or midsize companies, but I've also have had these techniques of going direct work really well in large companies too, and that the individual, whether it's a jobseeker that's working with another company or somebody like me, a small business owner, we really have the same job, and the jobs is that we are entrepreneurial in our approach. We have to take an initiative and a leadership position in our job search and we have to go after what it is that we want.

So we have to figure out what it is that we want, figure out what our branding message is; a brand simply means when you think about your brand whether we like that terminology or not (I happen not to), but our branding is the promise of an experience that people are going to have with us and we can convey that promise subtly in our résumé. I convey it subtly in my website. I want people to feel when they come to my website 'I found someone that knows what they're talking about that I can trust, that it has certifications, and oh thank God.'

I really do attribute the wonderful kinds of clients I get over and over again to that website attract certain people, and it's fascinating how it's all about perception and people's perception of us. What perception do you want people to have of you? We have to think about ourselves like entrepreneurs, like leaders and who are we, what's our value proposition, what's our branding statement, what do we have to offer a company and how do we communicate that we can make or save them money and you have to be able to do that because if you're going to tap into the hidden job market, you're going to have to express your value. You invest in marketing yourself just like you invest in college. You learn how to tap the hidden job market and that pays off for you in dollars.

So that's why this is exciting and that's why it's very cool to learn how to do this and because of the nature of the job boards and the stuff going on these days, everybody that has a job really it's incumbent upon them to learn how to do this, to learn what's working in today's job market for yourself, for your family. It's a necessity. It's a very dynamic changing situation right now.

Peter: When do you recommend someone hire a professional résumé service such as yourself, and how do they go about finding the right fit for them?

Mary Elizabeth: Most definitely when you are looking to change industries, when you are looking to uplevel your title, these are all great times. I've had senior vice presidents that call me and they say "I make $175,000 a year..." and they send me this résumé that looks like something they hung on to from college, because they've never had to send a résumé out before. They have this horrible looking document and of course what's the perception... I mean we're all good at what we do, but we're also responsible for translating that message in a way. It's kind of like we wouldn't go to a job interview in our pajamas; why would we send a résumé that looks like something we did 20 years ago.

I think most definitely those are the times you really, really need to look at investing in a writer and not just any writer, award winning writers, certified writers, writers that have their résumés in a lot of books. The certifications I like are from Creative Directors International because they are the gold standard in our industry. Go to Career Directors International and look up award winning writers, look up the certified writers, and that's your insurance policy that you're going to get somebody good.

To your question just to finish my answer; anybody that has a job is going to benefit from having your résumé professionally rewritten because the amount of money you put in if you haven't rewritten well and focused on what you want, you're probably going to get your money back tenfold.

It just works anecdotally over and over and over again throughout the years. It's just proven to work. Sometimes though, we can't afford it. We're not in a place where we can do that. That's why I wrote my book, The 21st Century Résumé. It's a step by step guide to how to market yourself in your résumé, and then I've written 12 or 13 or 14 résumé templates and I put them on a password protected website so when people get the ebook, once they read it, then you have this nice template so visually you can create something that looks really nice than just a plain old Word document. The book has gotten some really good reviews since I put it on Amazon last year. It's been typically in the top 10, top 20 of the best sellers under résumés and how many people it's been able to help really.

Peter: Let's get into some of the nuts and bolts and frustrations that so many people have, Mary Elizabeth. Let's pretend that I've done a great job of putting a marketing plan together for myself. I have great materials. I'm all set to go. The only problem I'm having is I can't get through the gatekeeper, all I get are voicemails. I can't get anybody on the phone. What are some strategies for getting through gatekeepers in companies, getting them to respond to your voicemails?

Mary Elizabeth: There's lots of subtle things that people can do. The truth of the matter is it's uncomfortable to be on Skype webinars. It's uncomfortable to be on television. It's uncomfortable to pick up the phone for the first time and ask for money for your local telethon you're doing. We all have to push ourselves out of our comfort zone and also not wait until it's perfect. You want to create the forward motion. When I am coaching my clients, I like to create systems that are simple and easy and turnkey because you don't want to be flustered about how to do this and how to do that. It should be really simple. You should be able to master it pretty quickly.

So when it comes to phone calls, I've created in my follow up ebook and my phone networking secrets ebook, just really short scripts how to network without asking for a job, how to follow up, how to get passed the gatekeeper. I really learned all of these things from being a recruiter, because as a recruiter I got hung up on more times than I guarantee any of you jobseekers are ever going to have that experience that I lived through for seven years.

The gatekeeper, I think the first thing to remember is when you're following up, when you're sending your résumé and following up with a phone call, when you're following up after an interview, try to be really shortsighted. Try not to think that you are canvassing for a job. What you're trying to do at that moment is probably more along the lines of you just sent them a really nice follow up thank you letter or a really nice résumé and now you want to leave a really professional voicemail.

So every time they see something from you, every time they hear your voice they're thinking "What a great person. We have to hire this person." If you think about it any other way "I'm so desperate, I've been looking for six months. No one wants to hire..." or "this jerk hasn't been calling me back. What the heck is his problem?" People are busy, and you can't take any of it personally, even though it's really hard not to but you have to understand marketing. Marketing is like that.

Marketing is primarily rejection and you've really just got to flow through it with the focus that all I'm looking for right now are the one or two yesses that I need to keep myself moving forward. I'm not going to worry about the rest. It has nothing to do probably with your capabilities and your skills. It has a lot to do with timing. You generally are not going to benefit by telling them that you're calling because you're following up on your résumé, you're looking for a job, you're doing some networking - all of those are huge red flags, and I guarantee you no gatekeeper that wants to keep her job is going to let you through to her boss after you tell her that.

It's so interesting because as a solopreneur, I have had to call famous people. I have had to call people that you'd say 'You talk to him? You talk to her?' We all have to put forth a little effort, figure out how to reach out and communicate. We all love to text and email and things but sometimes, actually I find most times, a phone call or an old fashioned letter it's a high touch method and your competition is going to be reticent to do that, and that's going to be your secret weapon.

Peter: In my opinion, the telephone is still the best sales tool ever invented and it still exists and it certainly... I mean to your point Mary Elizabeth, I get so many emails. Sometimes they just kind of go by and you forget. You go "Oh that's really interesting. I'll have to get back to that person." And you never do. It's always easier to send an email because it's frictionless. There's no risk in sending someone an email that they delete it or whatever, so what? Picking up the telephone and calling somebody you don't know, there's a little bit of a risk in that.

Mary Elizabeth: Right. Again, I think that a great tip when you're embarking on this, and everyone really is responsible for learning how to make these basic phone calls, these basic networking strategies, but think of it this way. Think really shortsighted. Your job is to connect your awesome marketing collateral to a really nice sounding person to your voice, to someone that just really sounds put together, happy and someone that can handle pressure.

It's amazing being on the inside and going through so many job searches with so many executives over the years, the stuff that I've seen I could write 10 more books. I've had people that were fired that got... just this one woman I'm thinking of, she got a $60,000 a year raise at a class A company after being fired after she was caught in political crossfire. It's so normal for us to think "Well shoot, I've been fired. No one's going to want me." That is so not true. What's important is that you understand who you are, what you're going after, how to translate that on paper, how to communicate it.

Peter: One last question for you Mary Elizabeth, bringing up mistakes that people often make, so where do you see jobseekers go wrong and what are some of the most common mistakes you see them make?

Mary Elizabeth: That's a huge question.

Peter: We can go on for another hour.

Mary Elizabeth: Oh my gosh, there's a long list of mistakes. There's lots of places we could go wrong. Thinking that there's something wrong with you is the first one. What everybody's problem is 95% of the time is the way they're marketing themselves. So if you're feeling a little down about things, please cheer up. There's light.

I wrote these books, like you said, I priced them almost free. They're $2.99 and $3.99, not because it's $3 worth of content; it's actually probably $300 worth of content. It's 16 years of my life and secrets that I've learned revealed not in theory, but really content like a guide book. Here you do this, this, this and this and here's your phone script and here's your résumé template and you do A, B, C, D, E... these are all the thorny topics that are so difficult for even other résumé writers oftentimes to know about and to help their clients with because you have had to have gone through the job search with a whole bunch of different people in order to understand what the solutions are, what the answers are.

There's three things that people can use to be really successful in their job search. There's focus of direction. Have a good focus of direction. Don't think now I have to take whatever comes along, but what do I want to do. What kind of money do I want to make? What am I good at? What am I doing when I'm loving my work? That's what I want to do. When I wake up in the morning, do I want to work out of my home office part time? Do I want to be a consultant? Do I want to travel? Do I want to work in a rural setting? Do I want to work in a high rise downtown? Do I want to move out of the state?

People call me sometimes specifically. They say "I want to move from California to Illinois and I want to change industries. Can you help me do that?" Yes. Yes, I can help you do that because if you have a focus and you know what you want, that's your bull's eye. We could hit a bull's eye but we can't hit 'I'll take anything that comes along. I want a generalized résumé. I'm looking at different things and I'm open.' All of these are red flag words to me. Don't be open. Be closed. Be really, really focused on what you want. 'I want to make between this and this...'

And then, of course, you have to build your case why you can, but you'd be surprised; if it's generally what you love then you're already naturally good at it, and you've probably gotten some experience that's going to support that transition. So just hire a good résumé writer to help you recreate your marketing collateral so it's compelling.

A good focus of direction, really, really clear on the industries and positions you want and write it all out on paper. When you write them down, you'd be amazed just that exercise how it can help you. Then get your marketing collateral together - your résumé, your what I call a value proposition, which is the new cover letter because it's short and it actually gets read. Get your LinkedIn profile. A lot going on with LinkedIn right now, it has a lot to do with keyword optimization and you want all the right keywords in there, you want continuity between your LinkedIn profile and your résumé. You want to join all the groups that have to do with what you're into or what you want to be into. So get that marketing collateral together.

A lot of my clients, I even give them website in their name.com and that's a good tip, by the way. If you have good marketing collateral that can work wonders, amazing. I've had people come to me that had been searching for a year; we redo do their résumé {snap finger} Boom! Right out of the box. Now they're getting interviews. Now they're saying "This is what I was hoping for," and things start to normalize.

Then you want to work on getting the right job search strategies. I really am a big advocate for the hidden job market, any type of direct mail campaign. It's very easy to find key contacts, go to Google Maps, type in your zip code and type in your industry and watch what happens. It'll blow your mind.

It's easy. There's no excuse for not just going getting reaching out directly. Learn how to network without asking for a job. That's a really, really big one. Ask for information. Ask for informational interviews. Again in my book The Hidden Job Market and Interview Follow Up I actually touch on informational interviews and how do them and how to ask for them because you don't want to be asking people "Do you know anyone who's hiring?" "Hey, here's my résumé. Do you think you could pass it on if you hear or see of anything?"

Don't put your résumé as the responsibility of your friends and your neighbors and your family there. It's going to upset them. They're going to be slightly taken aback even though they're going to want to help. It's just not a good way to approach people. Approach them in a way that's a little bit more controlled where you say "I have two industries I'm looking at, and here are some examples of some companies in those industries. Do you know anyone I might connect with that I could sit down and maybe just garner their expertise and not ask for a job."

I think one of the biggest mistakes that people make when they're job searching is they're job searching. When you're networking, you should not be looking for a job. Even mentally, you've got to get rid of that idea that you're somehow being sneaky. "I really want a job but I'm just asking him if he knows..." "if they ask me for my résumé, I'm going to pull it out and I'm going to give it to them." None of that.

You really have to treat it very organically, authentically. "I don't have my résumé; I'm just here for your mentoring and for your support." Things will unfold as they are they supposed to.

If I called you up Peter and I said "Peter, I'm looking to get into radio. I've been told I have a face for radio. Do you think that you can help me? Maybe I could get a little bit of mentoring, some pointers from you, some techniques. So and so said you were the best and you've got this awesome business. I know you're busy but gosh, if I could just maybe even call you and ask you a question maybe for five minutes, just three of four questions I would really, really be so grateful." Would it be hard to say no to that?

Peter: Absolutely, and I would be delighted to help someone who approached me in that way.

Mary Elizabeth: Exactly yeah. Be thinking in more of a shortsighted way when you are looking to grow things organically. Really approach people in the spirit of 'I'm looking for your advice, your expertise, your mentoring.' If you are doing any type of networking or informational interviews, jobs should be the last thing out of your mouth. If they want to hire you they will tell you. "Guess what? After talking with you, I feel like you might be a fit here. Did you bring a résumé?" No you did not. No, because you're not here to do the bait and switch on them. You're there to garner their expertise. So now you're going to send them your résumé. You won't lose out. You'll look more genuine. You'll look like someone they want to hire.

Peter: That's some really great advice. Mary Elizabeth, it's really been great to have you back here on TotalPicture Radio. We should do this more often. Is there anything you'd like to leave our listeners with?

Mary Elizabeth: I would say that if you invest a few dollars and an hour of your time in reading my books, you're going to learn things that can add tens of thousands of dollars to your income and improve the quality of your career and that's no joke. Learn them, learn the strategies, understand what's working, don't be jealous of other people that look like they're getting ahead of you or they're getting promotions when you're not or they're getting job offers and you're not.

Find out what's working for them, do a little bit of homework, invest a few dollars, put some skin in the game. You'll be amazed on what you can get back out of this.

It's the same with me; I hire business coaches sometimes to the tune of hundreds and hundreds of dollars an hour and believe me, it pays off thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars because I'm not smart enough to figure it out all by myself nor do I want to take the time it would take me to try to unravel all the mysteries of... I don't know... internet marketing and all of the things that I have to contend with in my business.

So as a jobseeker, you're no different. We're all trying to do the same thing in rising to the fullness of our potential and being the best that we can be, having a good career, taking care of our families. Let me help you or let somebody like me help you and invest in yourself. Do a little bit of studying and I promise you, it's going to pay off tenfold for you.

Peter: Mary Elizabeth, again thanks so much for joining me on TotalPicture Radio.

Mary Elizabeth: Thank you, Peter. It was a pleasure. Thank you everybody.

Mary Elizabeth Bradford is the author of The Career Artisan Series ebooks that you can easily find on Amazon.com and just in case you're wondering, you don't need a Kindle or any special device to download and read an ebook. Any computer with a free Adobe Reader program will work just great. Additionally, you'll discover a lot of timely and free information and articles on her website maryelizabethbradford.com. Follow her on Twitter @careerartisan and you'll find this interview in the Career Strategy Channel of TotalPicture Radio. That's totalpicture.com, where we encourage you to post comments and questions regarding our discussion today and remember, you can follow me, Peter Clayton, and TotalPicture on Twitter. Join our TotalPicture Radio group on Facebook and connect with me on LinkedIn. I'm happy to accept invitations from TPR listeners. You can subscribe to TotalPicture Radio on iTunes and Stitcher Radio.

Read more...

The Career Accelerator Program - Bob Prosen

  

How to Get the Job You Really Want. A Real World Approach.

Published on February 27 2013
Bob Prosen Career Strategy Interview on TotalPicture RadioBob Prosen

"At the beginning of the day, it's all about possibilities. At the end of the day, It's all about results."

"If you're going to get the job that you want, you have to speak the language of the hiring manager. That may sound simple but it actually takes a lot of thought. The hiring manager only hires people for one reason, and I want everybody to truly get this because once you decode this in your mind, you know exactly what to go and do." Bob Prosen

Are you spending countless hours looking for a job? Perhaps you are looking to switch careers but don't know how to get started? With so many people applying for jobs online, what you need to be successful is a comprehensive strategy, and a method for differentiating yourself. You don't want to be just another résumé in a mountain of résumés and expect a hiring manager or recruiter to find it -- and go 'wow'.

Hi this is Peter Clayton with a special Career Strategy Channel podcast on TotalPicture Radio. I know I'm somewhat of a broken record on this topic, but clicking the button to submit your resume to an online job posting is sort of like playing the lottery, with about the same odds. I clicked on a job ad posted on LinkedIn yesterday. There was a little icon that said "hot" - the ad had been online for just a few hours and had over 200 résumé submissions. At least LinkedIn lets you know how many people have applied - but this is an online cattle call!

Joining me today with a real solution to finding your next job - called The Career Accelerator Program is Bob Prosen, an expert in business leadership, management programs and career development. Bob is a frequent expert commentator for MSNBC and Fox News. 

With Bob's Career Accelerator Program, you'll gain access to videos and research material Bob created that, according to Prosen, will "show you how to get the job you want - or the job you really need." Now, I've personally gone through the Career Accelerator Program and I can tell you it is very comprehensive, offering step-by-step strategies that will position you to get the attention of hiring managers! What this is not, however is some 'magic formula to quick and easy results.'

As far as I know those don't exist.

Bob Prosen Career Accelerator - TotalPicture Radio Transcript

Hi. This is Peter Clayton with a Special Career Strategy Channel Podcast here on TotalPicture Radio. Are you spending countless hours looking for a job or are you looking to switch careers but don't know how to get started? There are so many people applying for jobs online, what you need to be successful is a comprehensive strategy and a method for differentiating yourself. You can't just be another résumé in that mountain of résumés and expect that hiring manager or recruiter to find it and go "Wow." I know I'm somewhat of a broken record on this topic but clicking the button to submit your résumé to an online job posting is sort of like playing the lottery with about the same odds.

Joining me today with a real solution called the Career Accelerator Program which you can find at mycareeraccelerator.com is Bob Prosen, an expert in business leadership, management programs and career development. Bob is a frequent expert commentator for MSNBC and Fox News and you'll find him on bobprosen.com.

With the Career Accelerator Program you gain access to videos Bob created that show you how to get the job you want or the job you really need. Now I've personally gone through the Career Accelerator Program and I can tell you it's very comprehensive, offering step by step strategies that will position you to get noticed and get hired. What this is not, however, is some magic formula to quick and easy results because as far as I know those really don't exist.

Bob Prosen welcome back to TotalPicture Radio.

Bob: Hey Peter, it's good to be with you.

Peter: It's great to be with you again as well. Let's jump in where I left off. There's really no quick and easy way to get a good job offer, the job you dream of landing. It takes a lot of hard work and focus and commitment.

Bob: It absolutely does and anyone who believes that they could jump into this and within a week or two land that perfect job is really just naïve. Let's face it, it's a business finding a job. It's not unlike trying to lose weight; you need a plan and without a plan and a strategy and you're willing to put some time into this, then I guess you could just use the traditional way of doing things which is just put your résumé out there to hundreds of different opportunities and hope that you get one which to me, particularly in today's economy, it just doesn't work.

Peter: Fortunately what is easy, Bob, is finding quality information online if you know where to look and you provide numerous links for research as well as little known resources for developing the marketing tools you need for the program. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Bob: Yeah I'd be happy to, Peter. I developed a program called the Career Accelerator, and it's meant for those who are serious about changing jobs as you mentioned earlier. It's either about changing careers; it's if you're out of work and you need to find work, if you're a college senior ready to graduate how do you navigate this market and literally find the position you love. I think its' critical to work in an area that you're passionate about.

Now not everybody has that choice but most people given that choice, would certainly take it but you need a set of tools, a step by step blueprint to let you do that. How do you stand out in front of everybody else and get that hiring manager to say "Bob, I like what I'm seeing. I want to speak with you. I want to interview you. You've presented information to me in such a unique way that I'm compelled just to meet you." And let's face it, if we're any good at what we're doing when we get that opportunity to sit down or even over the phone to meet these people that we've targeted using this marketing plan that I developed that's highly specialized to the individual that you're trying to go to work for. They're going to want to sit down with you because you're providing them this information that's making their job a lot easier.

Peter: A key component of your program is that participants of the Career Accelerator Program developed, as you were saying, this really comprehensive and targeted marketing campaign using the tools you've developed. Is that correct?

Bob: Yes. It's a step by step plan. What I first start with is defining what it is that you do best and that takes a little bit of time. What are your real skills and how are you going to use those skills and convert them into the language that the employer that you're targeting actually speaks. That language is called a job title and a position description, but you've got to convert your skills into a known job title that that employer relates to and I teach people how to go and do that.

Once that's done, we have to now build your campaign. The campaign is all centered around providing information in various formats to the manager you want to work for, that's the hiring manager not HR, you want to work for that person and over time, I teach people how to provide important relative information to that hiring manager using various tools, whether it be the internet, articles, videos on how to get salient information to them where they're wondering "Why am I getting all this great information for free? Who is this person that's providing this to me?" And then at the right time we ask for an opportunity to speak with them and every time that's done, you will get an opportunity to speak with that hiring manager.

Peter: That's a really great approach I think. As I mentioned in the introduction, I've gone through this program. So in addition to the videos, there are a number of printouts available, including a detailed outline giving the participants and overview of how the entire Career Accelerator Program works and the steps you need to take.

Bob: I don't want to leave anything for chance. So those who have used the program have told me that having that step by step - and I call it a mind map that I've built for people - that says here you are, you're starting your job search, what do you do first? What comes after that? It literally is laid out step by step. In the videos where I'm teaching each step, I go into detail explaining how to actually do the steps.

So not only do you see it visually in this mind map and you can see how you get from one place to the next and ultimately get the job you want, I explain to you everything you need to do to complete a single step and how that step feeds into the next.

So this isn't any theory. It clearly is tactics step by step that I've developed from a, let's face it, a CEO's perspective having been one; what do we want as CEOs, and I literally walk you through this and you have such confidence because you know that what I'm teaching you works for many others and all you have to do is have the passion and desire to follow through.

Peter: The top of this mind map that you're speaking about, Bob, has target companies. That's a pretty obvious strategy that many people espouse but the way you approach this task is very unusual.

Bob: Yes. A lot of people think that your target company has to be somebody or some company that is hiring right now and that's a myth. I believe your target company is a company that demonstrates the kind of environment that you first want to work in. So you figuring out what's important to you. Who do you want to work for? What type of company? How do they treat their people?

We get the classic stuff, the benefits and all that but it's much deeper than that because we want to be part of an organization where we're going to be able to stay for a long time. Who knows, this relationship we want to go on for in perpetuity if it were perfect and we can continue to get advancement and be challenged our entire career with them. So let's pick these companies as diligently as possible.

One of the things I love to do when I pick companies is not even worry about them having an opening. It's irrelevant even if they have a job that's posted. We want to apply to the companies that we want to work for and by using this program to make that happen and targeting the hiring manager in those companies again, whether or not they have an opening posted, it's a perfect way to get in front of the companies you want to work for and ultimately, even if they didn't have a job right now, sometimes they'll create that job for you because of this approach of the Career Accelerator Program or they put you in this special category called 'as soon as we have a job opening we're going to call you back' and that's a perfect place to be.

Peter: I want to have you expand on this a little bit because you have this entire segment and research required to identify specific company problems and this is a really long list. Why do you do this and what are the benefits to the jobseeker?

Bob: Peter, this is arguably the most important part of the program. If you're going to differentiate yourself amidst all of the people trying to get the same position you're going after, and some of those positions are not even advertised and only the inside people get a shot at this. If you're going to get the job that you want, you have to speak the language of the hiring manager. That may sound simple but it actually takes a lot of thought. The hiring manager only hires people for one reason, and I want everybody to truly get this because once you decode this in your mind, you know exactly what to go and do.

Hiring managers hire people to solve problems. What kind of problems? These are business problems, things that they're challenged with everyday, and a problem could be positive. It could be something like excessive growth and they're trying to incorporate that or they've merged with another company and they're trying to find more effective ways of bringing that new business to market. I teach people how to find these business problems that that hiring manager is facing and appeal to those problems in ways that they've never seen before, which is offering them solutions to those problems, Peter.

Peter: I want to have you to our listeners to give them one of the real takeaways for me and an essence of your program is you recommend when making a first contact with a target company, you do so not as a jobseeker.

Bob: Yes. So we know that the company that we want to work for has a hiring manager, we identified that hiring manager, I teach people how to figure out the problems that hiring manager is facing and the contacts that we make throughout the Career Accelerator Program. This is very unique and why it's so powerful and why it works is that we approach that hiring manager not as a candidate looking for a job.

Now that may sound odd but we never ask for a job. We don't position our self as the person for them to hire. Rather, we're positioning our self as somebody who provides answers to the business problems that they're having. And by doing that over a sequence and the Career Accelerator lays out the sequence of what you present to the hiring manager, how often you get in front of them with this problem solving information, doing this over a period of time allows you to develop a relationship. That relationship at some point - and I teach it in the program - you can convert it into the opportunity to meet or speak with that person.

Let's face it, if somebody is providing you great information to make your job easier, what do you think the chances are of you spending at least a phone call with this person several weeks down the line after they have helped you and never have asked for a job? The probability is very high that you're going to meet with this person, and that's exactly what the Career Accelerator Program teaches you.

Peter: I think that's such a great approach. Think about this for a second, listeners; you're talking to a hiring manager and instead of saying "Do you have any job openings?" the typical line; you're coming at them with "Look, I've done a lot of research on your company and I think doing A, B and C can really help your organization." I mean what a different approach?

Bob: It's incredibly different. I did this with an architectural engineering professional who wanted to move from Texas to California and absolutely had no contacts there. She's got no relationships there. She just got married and moved out there with her husband and needed to find a job.

In California over the last five years, construction has really come to a halt like it has in a lot of places and because of that, most of the architectural engineering firms have either cut their staff in half or unfortunately have gone out of business. She was struggling on how to compete with all of these unemployed architects who are willing to go to work for a lot less salary than they left these firms for.

I taught her how to use this program and more importantly, how to find the problems that the top five architecture firms she wanted to work for, the problems that they had. Once she found those problems, she built her campaign to address those problems. Within 30 to 45 days she was having interviews and ultimately got a job offer within two months. Isn't that incredible?

Peter: That really is. Back to your point, in a market that's really struggling within that particular profession.

Bob: Not only that, The New York Times came out with an article about the same time she was doing this that said the number one worst profession to pursue out of school is architectural engineering, and she defied all those odds and got a great job. As a matter of fact, she contacted me a couple of months ago; she has since gotten a raise and a big bonus. How cool is that?

Peter: When we spoke earlier I know that you've been working with some college seniors who are just about to graduate. Obviously they have a different approach that they need to take versus an experienced hire when going through something like this Career Accelerator Program. So how do you differentiate yourself as somebody who's just getting out of school and maybe just on some internships?

Bob: That's a great question, and I think everybody realizes that if we just kept up with the news that 50% of the young adults that are graduating are not getting jobs and almost 70% of them are moving back home. It's a very difficult environment for recent college grads. I open the program up to about 10 college seniors to go through this and they're making incredible progress. In fact, this morning I received 4 preliminary videos that this one college student is making to work for one of the top retail merchandisers in the country, and I was blown away on how well she used the program to communicate value and never sell herself.

I teach these college students how to deal with career fairs in a way that nobody teaches them, so that when they go into that career fair, they leave the targeted company that they want to work for an impression that causes them to definitely get a call back in an interview and it's working time after time after time. It's teaching college students how to act like a professional in a way that they're never taught to act like. In fact, unfortunately the career placement bureaus within the colleges don't understand this either.

I've decoded the whole process, and these college students are finding more opportunities than you can imagine and they're applying for those jobs in a unique way. Two of them have since gotten a position.

Peter: That's fantastic. I would imagine that some of the listeners to this show right now are on your website, bobprosen.com, and there are some bullet points there, some call outs that I'd like to have you tell us about. You say those participating in the Career Accelerator Program will learn first of all, the single most important reason why companies hire and how to use that information to get the job you want and I think we might be repeating our selves a little bit here, Bob, in talking about the problem solution.

Bob: That's exactly right and it's worth repeating, Peter, because I'm not sure everybody gets it. If we say it several times I know our listeners today are going to say "I get it. Now how do I use it?"

The single most important reason, again, that people hire - and this is across the board folks, no matter what company you're applying for - they hire because they need to solve a set of challenges or problems that they're faced with. If they didn't have any of those problems or challenges they certainly wouldn't hire anybody. They're not going to go and spend the money and increase their payroll for the sake of doing it. They're only doing it because they need to bring people on who can solve the problems, and here's the key, faster and better than the hiring manager could do on his own or her own. Therefore, you have to come in and show them how to do it where you take something off their plate and make their life better.

Peter: So is that really what hiring managers want most?

Bob: There is no doubt that's what hiring managers want most. How do I know this? Well Peter, as you know, I get in front of hundreds of business leaders, CEOs and senior executives, every single month and when I'm in front of them doing my business I also talk to them about the Career Accelerator Program and I do this for one specific reason. I want to test it all the time and make sure that what I'm teaching people who go through the program is exactly what business leaders want when they're hiring people.

I'm forever dialing that in and make sure that it's very tight. Every time I present the program to a T, the people in the audience after they see it, they said they wished that people would apply for jobs that way because if they did, they would at least get the interview and most likely get hired.

Peter: Again, I think we might be repeating ourselves a little bit here but talk to us about this bullet point how to position your self as an expert companies absolutely must hire.

Bob: There's a great way to do this and let me give you, for instance, with this architectural engineer because I think examples are a lot more powerful. I asked this person to just start looking on the internet for the top problems (sounds pretty basic)... the top problems that architectural engineering firms are facing and guess what? They're actually listed. So if you could get current, you've got to check your dates and make sure that they're current problems and not problems of five years ago.

Once you understand what those are, now what you're going to do is build solutions and these solutions are a combination of white papers, emails, videos and articles that specifically address those problems that we found through our research and we're going to target the hiring mangers. I even teach people how to figure out who the hiring manager is by name. We're going to target that hiring manager and use various delivery methods to get the information that we've built to that person in a defined a way over a defined period of time with specific follow up and that campaign gets people hired well before they have to complete the campaign. Many people are getting hired just halfway through the campaign because of the attraction that it creates with the hiring manager.

Peter: One of the things I'd like to highlight in what you just said is part of this program you train people on how to do videos and again this is very unusual, I've never seen this in any kind of career program before. I just went out recently and bought this little Logitech web cam. It was under $100. The quality of these things now, Bob, are amazing. The quality is stunning.

Bob: It really is and particularly for those who are, well let's break into two groups, Peter. We've got the generation of the 50+ age and we've got the under 50 age and it seems like everybody under that magic line there is certainly not inhibited or intimidated at all with technology. Whereas some of the folks that have been around a little bit, they freak out when you say make a video. They just think it's so complex. It's so easy these days to do this.

Anybody that owns a Mac for sure knows that you've got it built in to your laptop. Other computers you can add it like you have if it's not already built in. If you've got an iPhone or you've got a Galaxy, anything that has a video camera - those are all 1080P HD and I walk everyone through, as you said, how to actually use that camera step by step and how to build your video using that technology which is inexpensive. Most people already own it and how to convert your video into an informational solution video that you can deliver to your hiring manager.

Peter: I think it's really important that people pay attention to this whole video thing because more and more companies today are using video interviews as part of their hiring process. Before they bring you into to the company, they're going to want to do a video interview with you. So having the ability to present yourself well on camera and practicing the techniques that you teach, I think, are really important.

Bob: They're critical. In fact, the young lady today who sent me her final four for me to take a look at, because I like to mentor people through the program, and I actually give them a lot of my time but at a minimum an hour of free mentoring and consulting with anybody in the program. I'm helping her because she narrowed it down to four takes of this video. So she's taking it multiple, multiple times and she said "Take a look at these final four and let me know what you think."

I'm editing her approach, not her content. I'm editing her approach so that she can even make them better a little bit later today and then send them off. Do not be intimidated by video, not at all. Now here's the flip side, not goofy either. We're not talking about your hobbies and some silliness. We're talking about business issues.

So get your head on right when you do this because your video represents you and you have to be talking about the kinds of issues that hold the person's attention and what will hold their attention is how can you help them solve these set of business problems and I focus, folks, on doing that and being very concise on their video so every word matters and it captivates the person who's listening and watching it and allows them to open the door to receive additional information from you.

Peter: One more bullet point that I would like you to discuss with us today - how to identify your strengths and expertise to zero in on the perfect job. You know Bob, this kind of sounds basic and simple but as you present it in your program, it's very intensive and gets into a lot of detail.

Bob: It absolutely does and let's face it, if we don't start off knowing what it is that we're really good at and trying to position our self to use those strengths that we have then we're going to be unhappy and the employer will be unhappy too because we're not going to be giving it our best.

Now this is whether you're a seasoned executive who's been out of work for a few months or you're looking to change jobs. You might think you've got this nailed and maybe you do but many people still don't. Those that are new to the job market clearly don't have this figured out. College grads struggle with this quite a bit to figure it out because they're not taught these things. So this addresses the whole array of people no matter where you are in your career - beginning career, middle of your career, maybe you're 50+ and you're trying to get back into the workforce.

What I want you to do is write down the things that you're really good at doing and be very specific as to what those things are. In fact if you're not sure what those things are, ask people who you know, who you trust. These are people you've associated with. Have them send you an email as to if they had to describe you what would they say are your best strengths. Take all this information and digest it, prioritize it. Once you figure out what those strengths are, then what I want you to do is go and look at position descriptions - not job ads, position descriptions, where they're outlining what functions are performed inside of these particular jobs.

Those functions should align with your strength. If you're reading those positions and you say "Oh I can't do that or I don't want to do that," then clearly that's not the position for you. Now that you know your strengths, you're going to look for those as a requirement in those jobs. Those are the jobs you want to go after and you don't just go after that job; you go after the job specific, the title because that job title, that position title is what hiring managers hire. They don't hire people with great people skills, great communication skills and team building skills. They hire project managers. They hire directors. They hire salespeople. They hire specific titles and inside of those titles are those skills.

Peter: I think this is so important because as you know, Bob, a lot of jobseekers out there, especially people who may have been out of work for six months or a year get desperate and they say "Well I'm willing to entertain anything," and that is absolutely the wrong approach.

Bob: I think it's completely wrong but I do understand the desperation.

Peter: Oh absolutely yeah.

Bob: You've got bills to pay. You've got a lot of obligations in life. If you're going to take something temporarily I get it, and that's fine but you should always be working in the background to get the job you really want. If you've got to take something in the interim just to get you through, you've got to do what you've got to do. But in the background, in the evenings, on your weekends, on time off, you use this program to zero in on the job you really want because that's the best thing for you personally.

You've got to look out for number one here. Employers are looking out for themselves, you need to look out for your self. I want you to focus on what you want to do long term because once you get in the position like that, you're so much happier. You're going to give it all you can possibly give. You're going to go home at night feeling great about your contribution to the business and the person you work for is going to be incredibly happy that they hired you.

Peter: One last question for you, Bob, and I certainly hope that a number of people who are listening to this podcast are really interested in what you're doing with this Career Accelerator Program. Is there a try before you buy option with this?

Bob: Actually there is and I'm a believer in using my own marketing techniques for my own programs. So as I tell people who are looking for a job, to offer things for free and that generally freaks people out. But when we're solving problems for prospective employers, we're providing information for free and yes that has some risks. What's the risk? The risk is they won't hire you. Okay. But face it; it increases your odds tremendously.

So I use a similar approach in the Career Accelerator Program. If you go to mycareeraccelerator.com you can download and watch a couple of my videos that are part of this program, they're not some other video, they're part of the Career Accelerator Program. You can watch them for free. You can use the information to your advantage. You can download the strengths and expertise template. You can download that for free. I give you a lot of information.

If after you've got that information that's all you need to go get your job, go get your job. But if you like what I've given you and you decide hey, I need more of this. I want to see all 12 steps of the program, then you have the option to participate. So either way is fine with me. My goal is to make sure you get the job you love.

Peter: Bob, thank you so much for taking time to speak with us again here on TotalPicture Radio. It's always great to have an opportunity to catch up with you.

Bob: Thanks, Peter, for the opportunity.

Bob Prosen is a well-known profit, leadership and management strategist, the author of the best-selling book Kiss Theory Goodbye and developer of the Career Accelerator Program. You can connect with Bob on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and remember, you can access videos from the Career Accelerator Program at no cost on mycareeraccelerator.com.

This is Peter Clayton. You can follow me on Twitter @peterclayton, TotalPicture Radio @totalpicture. Join my network on LinkedIn. I'm always happy to connect with TPR listeners. Subscribe to our newsletter on totalpicture.com and subscribe to TotalPicture Radio on iTunes and Stitcher Radio.

One more thing we really appreciate your thoughts and comments on today's program. Visit Bob's feature page in the Career Strategy Channel of TotalPicture Radio and let us...

Weekend Inspiration. Good in a Room By Stephanie Palmer

  

How to Sell Yourself (and Your Ideas) and Win Over Any Audience

Published on February 20 2013
Good in a Room
Stephanie PalmerGood In A Room

The perfect book to pitch on Academy Award weekend!

Business consultant and former MGM Director of Creative Affairs Stephanie Palmer reveals the techniques used by Hollywood's top writers, producers, and directors to get financing for their projects - and explains how you can apply these techniques to be more successful in your own high-stakes meetings. Because, as Palmer has found, the strategies used to sell yourself and your ideas in Hollywood not only work in other businesses, they often work better.

Hi this is Peter Clayton. We're trying something new here at TPR - calling it Weekend Inspiration - a short podcast you'll find right here every Friday afternoon. And unlike the interview format you're used to hearing - these podcasts will be just me talking!

Over the years, we have received hundreds of review copies of business books. Occasionally, we find books we think are exceptional - and that you - the listeners of this show - will benefit from, and should know about. All of the books I'll be discussing in Weekend Inspiration I've learned from, and have inspired me to take action.

If there's a business book you consider exceptional we would really appreciate your sharing the title with us - send us a Tweet @totalpicture, or email info at totalpicture.com. Also please use the discussion form below to let us know if you like the Weekend Inspiration idea and if you found this podcast - helpful and inspiring!

This is our second Weekend Inspiration show. Today, we're featuring Good in A Room, published in 2008 by Currency Doubleday, and available on iBook devices, Nook, Kindle or as an audio book.

CHAPTER 1 Why You Should Read This Book

The reason you should read this book is because the strategies and tactics that people use to sell ideas in Hollywood work in the rest of the business world. I have worked with entrepreneurs, executives, and professionals in industries such as real estate, financial services, retail sales, law, advertising, marketing, video games, and more. The techniques used to sell ideas in Hollywood not only work in other industries, they often work better.

As you already know, "good in a room" is a Hollywood term referring to creative people who excel at pitching in high-stakes meetings. I've had-literally-thousands of these meetings. During my time as a studio executive at MGM, I had over three thousand pitch meetings where writers, directors, stars, and producers would try to persuade me to buy their ideas.

Most of the time, ideas are pitched poorly. However, there are some people who succeed all the time. Over a period of years, I paid attention to what worked and what didn't. I identified the techniques that were being used in all of the successful meetings-regardless of who was pitching. I also found a considerable number of ways that the person pitching could break the deal, often without knowing it.

Many studio executives, or "suits," have backgrounds in sales, marketing, or finance. My degree is in theatrical directing from Carnegie Mellon. So when I started hearing pitches, I wasn't just thinking about whether to say yes or no. I was seeing the meeting as a theatrical performance.

Unfortunately, most writers, like most people, do not have a comprehensive strategy to deliver a great performance. When the time comes to pitch in a high-stakes situation, even someone experienced can stumble and ruin a golden opportunity without a solid meeting technique.

When someone with a great idea doesn't present it effectively, it not only hurts them, but all of us as well. Why? Because mediocre ideas will get purchased and produced if superior ideas aren't pitched well enough.

The fact is that when it comes to making a buying decision, buyers can more easily evaluate the information on the surface, i.e., the pitch. It's harder to evaluate what's inside. As you know, this is true beyond Hollywood. In a grocery aisle, success is determined more by the design and copywriting on the packaging than by the quality of the product. In job interviews, hiring decisions tend to look past differences in work experience and focus on how the candidates perform in the room. My point is not that pitching is everything. Rather, it's that good products deserve good packaging and great ideas deserve a great pitch.

Even shy, awkward, introverted people can learn to pitch well. One of my highlights from MGM was when I found a new writer named Mike who was pitching a high school comedy with a unique angle. His script was great, but his pitch was a disaster. He didn't know how to handle the small talk, he pitched too soon and with way too much detail-he broke the deal in a dozen different ways. Ordinarily I would just pass on his project, but I was frustrated with the quality of the movies we were making and I didn't want to send this great script back to the slush pile. So I coached Mike on how to perform in each stage of the meeting and told him exactly what to say when my boss asked, "So, what's your project about?"

The next day, Mike pitched his idea beautifully to my boss, and it sold right there in the meeting. Afterward, he told me that he'd been staying on his brother's couch for the last three months and was preparing to move back in with his parents. With this one sale, his career was on an entirely new trajectory. And for me, in a job where so much of my time was spent surviving cutthroat politics and producing mediocre ideas, helping Mike succeed was really gratifying. I realized then that I wanted to focus on pitching, not production.

A year later, I left my executive job and started my own company, also called Good in a Room, to help writers and directors with quality ideas get the attention and financing they deserve. Then I did an interview with National Public Radio and I started getting some remarkable calls. A fashion designer wanted help bringing out his summer collection. A marketing exec wanted to get promoted to VP. A financial advisor wanted to find new clients and expand her business.

Soon enough, my non-Hollywood clients were landing million-dollar accounts, doubling their client rosters, launching successful small businesses, increasing their revenue, and getting promoted. Sure, some of my clients were skeptical at first. William, for example, was a sixty-something financial advisor from Texas. We met at the Merrill Lynch campus in New Jersey. I was there to give the concluding presentation at the annual conference for top producers.

William was already quite successful. He didn't need to change how he was doing business. As well, he was in a conservative business in a conservative part of the country, so anything that came out of a liberal place such as Hollywood was immediately suspect.

Still, he wanted to take his business to the next level, and he was smart enough to realize that unless he wanted to simply put in more hours and work harder, he was going to have to try something new. I consulted with him the next morning before we went to the airport and suggested that he modify his standard approach in a few significant ways. He was doubtful, but he said he'd give it a shot when he got back to Texas.

When I landed in LA, William had already left me a message. Turns out the guy sitting next to him on the plane had just sold his business and needed a financial advisor he could trust. Rather than trying to "sell" him, as so many financial advisors do, my client practiced the Good in a Room techniques and signed him rather effortlessly.

Meeting a client on a plane is practically a cliché (though in reality, it doesn't happen very often), and all of the credit belongs to William. Still, the idea that a sixty-something financial advisor in conservative Texas could, with one consultation, master and successfully apply what works for thirty-something writers in liberal Los Angeles? Very cool.

Whether you work in Hollywood or not, the fact is that selling ideas is really difficult to do. The reason the pitching secrets of the most successful writers and directors are relevant is that these people have evolved an advanced method for selling ideas.

Whether you're a screenwriter, a journalist with an idea for a story, an entrepreneur with a business plan, an inventor with a blueprint, or a manager with an innovative solution, if you want other people to invest their time, energy, and money in your idea, you face an uphill battle.

First, ideas aren't tangible-no one can kick the tires of your idea. Second, ideas aren't quantifiable-the decision maker can't reliably estimate the value of your idea in monetary terms. As my boss at MGM used to say, "If we knew which ideas would be hits, we would only make hits." Third, ideas are risky-there can be millions of dollars on the line and reputations at stake when a buyer says yes to an idea. Fourth, people who buy ideas hear so many pitches that getting their attention and actually convincing them is exceptionally difficult. Finally, the more original your idea is, the tougher it is to pitch effectively. Any groundbreaking idea will be harder to sell simply because there isn't a precedent to show it will work.

As risks increase and buyers become more difficult to persuade, people who sell ideas must clear an even higher bar. We must get in the right rooms with the right people. We need a comprehensive strategy and the most advanced tactics. Then we can present ourselves and our ideas with confidence.

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