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This post is the 5th in a series of 6 posts regarding career development planning. You can find earlier posts in the series by clicking here.
The “Pathway to a Successful & Satisfying Career” includes four key steps:
- Campaign, and
- Ongoing Reflection & Transformation
Previous posts addressed the Assessment and Alignment phases, along with the first half of the Campaign phase (Steps 1-3). This post will address the remainder of the Campaign Phase (Steps 4-6).
The Campaign phase consists of six critical repeatable steps that position you to secure your desired career opportunity. These steps include:
- Creating your professional “”
- Target your audience and message
- Actively engage your target contacts.
- Create proof that you are the ideal candidate.
- Actualize the opportunity, and
- Negotiate and close the deal!
The prior post outlined steps 1-3 and emphasized the need to be true to your career vision statement in all of your messaging and active engagement. Be sure to capture notes from your conversations and organize them by using a contact management system such as Capsule CRM or Hubspot. Leverage technology to help you successfully navigate the Campaign phase and land your targeted career. Finally, promptly thank them for the opportunity to spend time with you and the insights they provide (email works, but a handwritten note carries some old-fashioned professional impact).
Step 4 – Create a Proof Project & Submit It Post Interview
By now, you have gained some traction for your Campaign, actively engaging targeted contacts, making observations, and taking notes. Hopefully, you are uncovering challenges the company faces or opportunities that may exist. You delve deeper into the company operations and culture and begin to see how you can apply your career vision statement to help the targeted company solve their problems or create new opportunities. Now is your time to prove it by creating a proof project and submitting it after your informational interviews.
A proof project is nothing more than helping your targeted company to “connect the dots,” giving them a unique perspective and outlining the role you will play in the solution. It is a simple story, with an introduction, middle, and an end. You get to play the starring role by showcasing your natural abilities, skills, knowledge, etc. and explaining it in ways, they will make the connection between the challenge or opportunity and your direct involvement. The objective is to have them either hire you outright or to place you at the head of the line for the targeted role.
A Proof project can take many forms, be it via a PowerPoint deck, video, physical or digital model, or the use of any media that creatively showcases your unique observations and your proposed process to a solution. The Proof Project has seven parts:
- Outline of the problem or opportunity
- Your views/data to confirm the challenge or opportunity
- Your proposed solution
- The benefits for the target company and its customers, operations, etc.
- Your role and why you are the best choice for the role
- A brief overview of the steps for implementation (Don’t reveal too much! Leave them wanting for more!)
- A “trial close” statement such as, “When do we start?”
Use your creativity and unique insights, coupled with what you have learned about the decisionmakers and company culture to build a compelling case for the proposed solution and yourself. Now is the time to boast a bit and let people know the value you provide.
Why the need to send the Proof Project after the interview? First, stay true to your word. If this is an informational interview, you made a promise to keep the discussion exploratory and promised not to ask for a job. Coming on too eager may lead the contact not to trust you or douse any interest in your potential role with the company. Second, there will be additional information that you glean from the interviews that will help you craft your Proof Project. Finally, it gives the decisionmaker the impression that you do your homework before you propose any solution.
Step 5 – Actualize the Opportunity
The word actualize means to make it real. Making your targeted career opportunity a reality requires you to stay engaged with the process and overcome any hurdles. No matter how well the interviews go, there is always a lag in time between your last contact and any movement on the formal hiring process. Ideally, you have made a strong impression with your interview skills and submittal of your Proof Project. The hiring managers see your potential and know that you can be a valuable part of the team moving forward. However, there are two hurdles to consider:
- The decision-maker agrees with the need for your role but has no current funding in the budget, or
- The decision-maker has the budget and will post the position but needs to follow the protocols of the Human Resources department.
Keep heart! Understand that you can only control what you can control! Stay patient and stay connected and in touch with the decision-makers. Help them with any added details or proof to support their internal staffing plans. Stay ready to answer any follow-up questions or interviews with people outside the decision-makers department. Be careful not to “cross any wires” by politely answering questions that may throw the process off-kilter. Your objective is to stay at the forefront of the mind of the decision-maker and patiently play the process. Provide consistent follow-up communication and look for legitimate ways to add value to the process. If the discussion goes silent, stay calm, and assess the situation. Ask for guidance from your contacts, especially from any influencer to the decision-maker. Take notes and record them in your CRM. Schedule follow-up actions and take the appropriate action and bring the opportunity to fruition.
Step 6 – Negotiate and Close
You are so close, but not yet to the finish line! Typically, by this time, you would have discussed compensation for the proposed role and any other add-ons that may make the career opportunity worthwhile to you. Before you get to this point, do your research regarding the compensation for such a role or similar roles. You can find useful negotiation tips by Austin Belcak here.
Understand what you need to make the opportunity work for you, and not just in pure dollar terms. Consider all aspects of the potential role such as travel time, flex time, vacation or personal days, alignment with your values, time for family, and mainly how it checks all the boxes regarding your career vision statement. No career opportunity will be perfect, but understand what is vital to you and non-negotiable. Remember, you want a balance between your career and personal lives. Stay true to yourself and your needs.
The next post in this series will outline the final phase in the Pathway to a Successful and Satisfying Career – Ongoing Reflection and Transformation, so stay tuned. In the meantime, where are you along the path? If you need help, a process to follow, or a source of subtle but effective accountability, feel free to contact me at email@example.com, or visit my website, https://www.cfpathways.com, for more information.