January 16, 2018

Case Study: The Not-So-Easy Engaged Pursuit

Oscar thought finding a new corporate gig would be a piece-of-cake.  But finding the right opportunity for him is turning out to be more challenging than he imagined…

I’m continuing to highlight Case Studies for the month of January.  This is the fourth edition, and this week I’m highlighting some continued work with a client who hasn’t yet found a professional/engagement match.

I think it’s important to talk about wins (of course), but I think it’s also super-important to highlight some of the not-so-easy experiences that my clients face each-and-every-day.  It’s tough out there … finding professional engagement doesn’t come easy (but it’s totally worth it, believe me)!  As with previous case studies, I’m changing the names of folks to keep everything confidential.

This week, I’d like to talk about Oscar…

Here’s what happened:

Oscar’s based here in Seattle with 20 years of digital media and advertising agency experience.  He’s been through it all – the rise (and fall) of the dot com bubble, the beginning of search advertising and the huge impact online advertising can have on in-store sales.  Lots of great impact throughout his resume + Linked In profile.

Oscar thought it would be easy to find professional engagement in a new gig. “With my level of experience, it can’t be THAT hard to find something great, right?” he thought to himself.

Here’s Oscar approached his situation:

Oscar did what everyone does when looking for a new professional experience.  Started with the resume, got a “Premium” Linked-In subscription and started talking. “I’m officially looking for something new,” he’d say to his contacts. “Let me know if you hear of anything.”

Sound familiar??

His network wanted to help and was very sympathetic to his situation.  “Of course, I’ll keep my eyes and ears open for you,” one person said.  “I heard XX is looking for someone in Biz Dev,” said another.

Oscar experienced the typical roller coaster – the high of a potential opportunity and the low of not getting a response from a seemingly perfect open role.

That roller coaster continued:  Application via Indeed here. Resume upload via Linked-In there.

Then … you guessed it … crickets. And crickets for close to 12 months.  Gulp.

That’s when Oscar reached out to me.

Here’s how Engaged Pursuit came into play:

Oscar and I sat down over a beer and talked about his engagement strategy.

I kicked-off our conversation with (you guessed it) my favorite question, “So tell me a little about yourself.”  Oscar’s (15-minute) response – all over the place.  From this job to that job, from this client win to that client win, from this location to that location.

I was in a fog (and almost done with my pint).

I asked how he approached trying to find something new.  He mentioned the resume refresh, the Linked-In subscription and the plan to meet everyone he knew to “look-out for anything interesting.”

I told him to stop everything.

Oscar was building a house without a foundation and he was experiencing the weak structure. While difficult to hear (remember, he was 12 months in at this time…), it was time for Oscar to start over.

Here’s what we did:

Oscar and I immediately got cranking on his Professional Dashboard. We needed to know what REALLY made him tick professionally. It needed to go beyond job titles and client wins.  It needed to include his Values, his preferred organizational state (he’s a “builder” by the way) and his Professional Strengths. Done!

Then, we nailed his Professional Story and got an elevator pitch down that was easy-to-remember, compelling for his network and “framed” his search in a way that folks could understand (and went beyond “Keep your eyes/ears open for me”). Perfection!

In addition, we prioritized his professional network. We identified who were the “Power Players,” who were the “Company Insiders” and who were the “There if we need them.” We then customized our approach (and message) for each category and made sure we made it super-easy for everyone to say “Yes” at any/all requests. Phew!

Here’s our results:

This is the section where I typically highlight the huge win – where I write about the new job, the new employee survey score or the offer that is coming very soon.  Not in Oscar’ case…

Oscar is still looking.

He’s now about 6 months into this new approach and is still looking. While we’ve had several interviews at some pretty hot companies here in Puget Sound, Oscar hasn’t found the right fit just yet.  And that’s ok.  We’re continuing our partnership, checking-in on my “panic-scale” regularly and keeping a pulse of the hot Seattle market.

I’m super confident Oscar will nail his Engaged Pursuit, but it hasn’t happened yet.

Here’s what we learned:

  • Don’t build your house without a foundation. Immediately starting with a resume refresh and/or a Linked-In subscription is NOT the way to go. You really need to understand WHO you are professionally before you begin.
  • Networking is (still) key, but you have to prioritize your network and make sure your message goes beyond “Keep your eyes/ears open for me!” (How familiar is that???). You have to bring everything to the table for your network and make sure they can say “Yes” to everything you request.
  • An Engaged Pursuit is a humble pursuit. It’s hard. 20+ years of experience doesn’t automatically guarantee something perfect. Even in a hot Seattle market, this work takes time (I’ve really learned that with clients).
  • Never settle. The right opportunity will come along.

Your homework this week: Think about your professional foundation.  Is it solid and ready for construction? Or does it need work? Do you know how you’d answer the most asked question, “So tell me a little about yourself?” Or does that scare you to death?  Let’s chat if you want some help building that foundation as you think about something new.

Coming-up next week:  College graduation is right around the corner (yikes!).  I’ll highlight my huge win with a recent college grad next week. It’s one of my happiest client stories and I can’t wait to share it with you!

Here’s to your Engaged Pursuit!

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