May 3, 2018

Case Study – Playing the Long Game

When you know what you want, sometimes getting there takes time. Staying positive, not giving up, and looking for feedback along the way is key to winning this Engaged Pursuit long game.

As highlighted in previous Case Studies, the path to professional engagement takes time. Even with the hot job market (especially in tech), the majority of clients are spending 4-6 months finding something great (not the 2-3 months I originally assumed).

What I tell current and potential clients who are wanting change – “Employers are looking for greatness and are picky in their approach– it’s now more important than ever to set-yourself-apart with a crisp, clear, and confident Professional Story.”

While most clients take 4-6 months to find a more engaging role, this is the story of Kelly who took over 12 months to land a new gig. She knew what we wanted and stopped at nothing to achieve her goal.  Kelly was playing the long game.

How Kelly found Engaged Pursuit:
As with most clients, Kelly found Engaged Pursuit by word-of-mouth.  A friend-of-a-friend worked with me last year and was really impressed with the approach, the partnership focused on accountability, and the end results.

Unlike most clients, Kelly knew exactly what she wanted – a Program Management role in a high-tech company where she could maximize her experience, lead a global team, and create awesome user-experiences.

She only had one company in mind and would not budge from this focus.  She knew where she was headed next.

Where we focused to maximize value for Kelly:
Due to this laser-focus, we had to nail two key areas for Kelly – the Professional Story (the foundation of any client work) and the network (utilizing both her network and mine).  We had to be smart about our approach with this single company – we couldn’t just pepper the career portal with random applications. We needed the right role(s) for Kelly and the right people to submit an employee referral on her behalf.  We had to do all the up-front work to make this process easy and efficient for our partners in this process – all they had to do was push “send” to help Kelly’s efforts.

What helped Kelly the most:
The Professional Story gave Kelly the confidence she needed when interacting with people on the inside of her coveted company. She approached them in language they could understand, “sold them” on her value, made the interaction super quick/easy, and thanked them at every opportunity.  Kelly knew most of these folks were checking email on their phones, so messaging/next step templates had to be short-and-sweet. No two-page emails here!

Where Kelly struggled:
Kelly got rejected.  Kelly got rejected a lot.  Some hiring managers didn’t get back to her. Some interviews didn’t go well.  She was “number two” in the final decision a couple times. We stayed close during these more difficult times and I reminded her two things: (1) it’s ok to feel the pain of these losses, and (2) it’s important to get right back-up and continue the fight. I had to remind Kelly that she’ll “know when it’s the right fit – everything will fall into place easily and quickly and you’ll feel good about the process along the way.”

Kelly’s big win:
After a couple more months, everything clicked. The perfect role matching what she wanted: A Program Management role managing a team working on an up-and-coming product. After almost a year, everything fell into place and it “felt” right too. The offer came-in and Kelly signed within 24 hours. She starts next month.

Kelly’s Lessons Learned:

  • Knowing who you are professionally is key to an Engaged Pursuit. Even if you know exactly where you’re headed next, this work is crucial and foundational.
  • The market is hot and expect your Engaged Pursuit to take time (probably longer than you think). It might even take a year.  That’s ok – it’s worth it.
  • Networking goes beyond contacts submitting applications on your behalf.  You have to be compelling in your “ask,” easy/clear on next steps, and grateful for their help. You have to do a lot of the heavy-lifting.
  • You’ll know when you’ve found the right opportunity.  Of course, the Professional Dashboard/Story helps confirm, but there’s an element of “gut” that also goes into the decision.  It has to feel good, too.

Your homework this week: Think about YOUR network.  Does Linked-In need a refresh? Are your contacts up-to-date? Do you have them prioritized in the right way (do you have 10-12 you can reach out to right away if needed)?  If not, get this important community back on your to-do list! Need some help? Shoot me an email.

Coming-up next week:  May is the start of college graduation season (gulp)!  Next week I’ll focus on what I’m seeing in the market, so these recent graduates (and parents!!!) know what to expect as they start to hit the pavement.

Here’s to your Engaged Pursuit!

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