“The challenge doesn’t lie in getting them to know what you know. It won’t help. The challenge lies in helping them see your idea through their lens, not yours.”
That excellent thought came from a recent post on Seth Godin’s blog about how the marketing of products and ideas can be done more successfully by getting inside the customers’ heads and understand how they are perceiving the pitch being made to them.
I’ve said it before on this blog: when you are applying for jobs, you are selling yourself. You want the company to buy into your attributes. What better way to get them to buy what you have to sell (e.g. yourself) than to get into their shoes and figure out how they are interpreting everything you are bringing to the table?
With all the resources available today, it’s easier than ever to determine a company’s perspective:
- Go to the corporate website. There is a vast amount of information available that is just ready to be used! You’ll find everything from mission and vision statements, core values, press releases about current activities, and descriptions of the products/services they provide. How the company positions itself with its customers is a clear indication of what they expect from their employees.
- Check out their Twitter feed. I realize that it’s only 140 characters, but you can determine patterns in what they tweet.
- Get on LinkedIn. If the hiring managers happen to belong to the same discussion group as you, pay attention when they talk.
- Google them. Hey, you know they’re doing it to figure out as much as possible about you, so why wouldn’t you do the same to them? Maybe you’ll unearth a post that someone put on a blog about the company, or perhaps you’ll find a PDF of an article that references them.
- Check out EbscoHost. EbscoHost compiles many databases of periodicals and journals on a wide variety of topics. These materials can be accessed through participating colleges or universities (if you are a student) or through many library systems. You’d be amazed at the information you could glean from a search of the fitting databases!
Then, based on what you have learned about the company and their point of view, customize your materials accordingly.
I’m not saying that you should write a brand new cover letter and résumé for every opening. Rather, have a template of your cover letter that has a sentence here and there that could be tweaked to reflect what you discovered on their website. Rearrange the order of your work accomplishments so that the ones that position you as a good fit for the opportunity are prominent. To wow them at the interview, practice talking about those achievements that will best show how you possess the skills that will help them meet their needs.
How else can you “see your idea through their lens?”