Job Search Strategies: The Second Shoe Interview

by Staff - Original publish date: October 31, 2012

I sometimes tell a story in my presentation about the sales guy who persisted over several months to get an appointment with a corporate buyer. Regardless of how hard he tried he could not get this woman to make the time to see him. She was a "Master of the Universe" in the cosmetics industry based in New York City, and doing business with her could do wonders for any company or career.

Sales Guy (yes, it was a man and his gender is important to the story) managed to get through to the gatekeeper who, after all his months of trying, came to appreciate his persistence. And from this gatekeeper, Sales Guy was able to obtain our Master’s shoe size. Yes, I said shoe size!

Knowing this information, Sales Guy then went out and purchased a pair of $1,000 Jimmy Choo shoes in Master’s size. For those of you who don’t know who designer Jimmy Choo is, all you need to know for this story to make sense is that a pair of Jimmy Choos runs $500 to $1500 per pair! And yes, I had to look that one up myself.

Sales Guy then had ONE shoe delivered to Master of the Universe with a business card and a note attached, stating that he was seeking an appointment and would bring the SECOND shoe to their introductory meeting. ("Second Shoe Interview" -- now you get it!)

You can imagine how the story ends: he got the appointment, landed the account and went on to live happily ever after.

What has all this got to do with job search? The short answer is everything! It’s a brutally competitive world out there and regardless of the position you are seeking (or thinking about seeking), you must be creative in your outreach and able to express your value to an organization.

Sales Guy creatively landed the appointment which, by the way, is the only purpose your resume serves. He then landed the account NOT because of his creativity but because he was able to express the value he would bring to the cosmetic company and to the buyer specifically.

What value are you prepared to discuss with your potential next employer?

Can you unequivocally state how you will make money or save money for the company? Assuming you do not generate revenue in your position, can you clearly state how you will add value or save time?

I have a non-negotiable rule when working with individuals: my clients are required to create an "Accomplishments Worksheet" prior to drafting a resume. This exercise is, admittedly, the "heavy lifting" part of the process. I require a minimum of 10 items (with no maximum) on this list. I ask for an accounting from personal memory of all the times they might have had a positive impact on an organization. Next I ask them to contact family, friends, coaches, professors, clergy, co-workers, former supervisors, etc. to ask them what comes to mind when those people think of the impact my client had on their organization or team. Accomplishments are not restricted to work only but include athletic, military, volunteer, charity, religious and academic organizations --anywhere that an impact was felt.

Your accomplishments MUST have a beginning, a middle, and an end. For example: "I created a filing system that resulted in 300 man-hours saved per month."

Beginning: I created a filing system
Middle: that resulted in
End: 300 man-hours per month.

THIS is the filing clerk I want to hire!

Note that you can probably take every item listed, every bullet point in your current resume, remove the period at the end of the sentence, add "resulting in" and complete the sentence. Taking this single action, I promise, will professionally enhance your resume.

Take away?

First, it’s OK to be creative to get the attention of the powers-that-be in the company you might want to work with. Not trying automatically equals a "No," so what have you got to lose?

Second, following the success of your creative approach, be prepared to address how you will be adding value to the organization. Really spend time and focus on this. Personally, I’m sick of resumes that state "I am seeking a rewarding and challenging career." It’s not about you. It’s about them. Express your value and get the offer.