Positioning Yourself as a Problem Solver
by: Fred Coon, Chairman, CEO
Every open position is a public acknowledgement of a company’s need to fulfill an immediate need. Recruiters hire executives for one reason and one reason only – to solve problems they either can’t solve or they don’t want to solve. While problems present themselves in many ways (like increasing revenue, decreasing turnover, maximizing the use of resources or building the right systems and infrastructure), the ultimate goal of every executive recruiter is to increase revenue by solving a specific problem. And a recruiter will hire you IF you can convince them that you are will solve their problem.
At the writing of this post, Hollywood is buzzing in anticipation of this year’s Academy Awards. Leading the pack with 12 nominations is Steven Spielberg’s film, Lincoln. Probably most intriguing about this film is Spielberg’s ability to successfully repackage an American icon not as a hero, but as an imperfect man laboring – both physically and mentally – to solve problems, the outcome of which had the potential to change the world. Lincoln’s legacy was his ability to face and overcome the most difficult of challenges. And as an executive job candidate, that should be your legacy as well.
Renowned success philosopher and motivational speaker, Brian Tracy, provides good advice for sales professionals who need to position themselves. This advice also works well for executive job seekers selling their services to hiring managers. “Position yourself as a consultant, an expert, an advisor, a helper and teacher” both on paper and in person. To do this effectively, you should focus on two specific areas.
Franchise your transferable skills
More often than not, your transferable skills are going to be the soft skills you have worked to sharpen both before and during your executive positions. Think of your soft skills as a profitable franchise system. The value of a franchise is in the successful methods that have been systematized to yield profits for the franchise no matter who manages the system. In the same way, most executives have developed a system of methods and skills which have served them well throughout their entire career and likely brought measurable success. Such skills are transferable and can be adapted to work in various professional settings, across multiple industries. Feature your skills prominently in your executive resume, perhaps in the short Profile section of your resume which lists your valuable character traits and performance results.
Focus on results
Speaking of results, one of the best ways to position yourself as a problem-solver in the mind of an executive recruiter is to shift the focus of your resume from being a list of past responsibilities to being a chronicle of previous challenges that were successfully (and innovatively overcome). On paper, tell the results you delivered. In person, be prepared to eloquently and succinctly articulate several narratives of challenges faced, solutions you provided and results delivered. Let your results speak for themselves.
Above all, recognize that problem-solving starts with your perspective. Go into the job search process knowing that executive recruiters are looking for you to solve their problems. In order to do that, you must listen to find out the challenges they face and figure out how you can use your expertise to fulfill that need.