I Can Do All Things!

Unless you are Superman, those words will probably work against you rather than for you … particularly when searching for that next finance executive position. From my perspective, here are the top three reasons why …

Jack-of-all-Trades, Master-of-None … When you’re good at a lot of things, rarely are you an expert at SOMEthing. That “something” is usually what companies are hiring. Katie Konrath said this in her post, “Stop Saying You Can Do Anything!”

… acting like a jack-of-all-trades ends up causing others to think (that if you’ve spent the time learning how to do everything) you haven’t had the time to become really good at what they actually need you to do.

Commodity Status … Knowing a lot about a little rather than being a Subject Matter Expert, by its very nature, relegates candidates to commodity status. Wikipedia’s definition of commodity is this … paraphrased … “there is demand, but no differentiation … and price [salary] is determined as a function of its market as a whole.” 

Being a Master of SOMEthing is usually more valued than being a Master of ALL things … both in perception and salary.

Weak Positioning … When you are all things to all people, you are no longer true to yourself. You aren’t playing from your passions, values, or in many cases, your strengths you are making and re-making yourself into what someone needs or wants. The result is compromising a strong and compelling position. Raymond Hull said it this way … “He who trims himself to suit everyone will soon whittle himself away.”  When you understand your area of expertise and the target market who needs it, your positioning is much stronger. 

The reality is … the tighter your niche or area of expertise, the bigger your presence. Think about it.

The “Spaghetti” Job Search Strategy

There’s a lot of angst in the LinkedIn CFO group this morning. Not hearing back from recruiters these days is enough to send even the most stable senior finance executive to the edge of the cliff after a period of unemployment. The job search system is already flawed, and the Internet has exacerbated the breakdown … candidates send resumes to a big black hole and never hear back from anyone. If you haven’t read my article “Everybody Lies,” email me and I’ll be happy to send it your way. 

Anyway, the flawed search strategy that almost every job seeker uses is what I call the “spaghetti strategy.” They throw their resume into the black hole hoping it will stick to something. It doesn’t have to be the “right” thing, just, please, let it be “something.”  

When HR has posted a position or a recruiter has been hired to do a specific search, they are in “screen out” mode. If you don’t meet these specific requirements – every one of them – you’re out. And, short of a solid long-term relationship with a recruiter that might sway them, there is nothing you can do about it.

Playing the posted position game elicits this advice from some … “you must modify your resume for every position to which you apply.” That is because when you are throwing your resume into the black hole and hoping it will stick to something, it requires you to be “all things to all people.” You’re like a chameleon constantly changing colors depending on where you’re standing … or in this case, depending on what the job posting says. 

I believe there is a search strategy is that far more effective, much less anxiety-inducing, and focuses on what you want rather than anything that’s available. It is hard work AND it requires you to move away from the job boards and into a position of strength. 

You first need to identify your sweet spot. Business coach Deborah Gallant, in summarizing points from “What Would Google Do,” said this …

“Mass market are irrelevant, it’s all about niches: identifying what you do really well and doing it supremely well.”

The next step is figuring out who needs what you do really well and then how you can get on their radar screen. Whether that company has a position posted is irrelevant because if you can take away their current pain, having a conversation with you is always an option. It’s hard work, certainly more challenging than the spaghetti strategy, and generally much more effective!