Dear Career Tips:
Leave Them Wanting to Know More
From Career Tips, 2008 Volume 4, April 2008
Have you ever run into someone at a networking event who proceeded to ramble on for 5 minutes about the details of what he did? Did that get you interested in learning more?
This is one reason why a tenet of effective marketing is "Leave them wanting to know more!" Yet so few of us remember to do this...
- Does your resume suffer from "death by duties" syndrome, where it spends a lot of time talking about the duties you performed in each role, instead of boiling those descriptions down to the concise, compelling, accomplishment & result bullet points that get a hiring manager excited?
- Are your cover letters attempts to tell your history, or marketing pieces designed to create curiosity about what you can add to a company's operations?
- Do you always make sure you use all 30 seconds of your elevator pitch at a networking event, or do you instead focus on answering "Why Should I Want To Pay Your Salary?" and nothing else?
- Have you timed all of your accomplishment stories to make sure you can relate them in no longer than 60 seconds?
- Have you developed a powerful "HERO Story" with which to open your interviews, carefully constructed to include some key results that provide the 'hooks' to engage the listener?
Remember that a hiring manager who is interested and engaged will want to know more, and then will invite you to tell more. On the other hand, one whose senses have been dulled by your long explanation will never be curious enough to ask for more.
Also keep in mind that as much as I am judging your ability to produce results by the stories you tell, I am assessing your leadership and communication skills by the WAY you relate the stories. You shine through your ability to get quickly to the essence of the story, and to distinguish and relate only the critical points that I will most want to know.
If I ask for an example of your project manager skills, and you immediately launch into a long, detailed description of all of the steps you took to direct the implementation of a year long project, you will have answered my question. But if you instead tell a concise story with the key challenges, the most critical steps you took, and a powerful result, you will get me excited. I can then probe on the points in which I am most interested.
How you communicate that story tells me a lot about your current and future potential:
- Your skill at boiling down a story to its essence, and separating the wheat from the chaff.
- How much I can expect of your ability to negotiate effectively with my peers vs. continually having to reserve those efforts for myself.
- Whether I can rely on you to make powerful presentations to senior executives.
Also think about this...
If your typical accomplishment story is 2-4 minutes long, how many are you going to get the chance to work into a typical interview? On the other hand, if you boil them down to the most powerful points that grab the interviewer's attention, AND they are shorter, you've achieved a double-whammy --> more powerful statements, that you get to relate more of!
So just remember: Less is More.
Create the hooks in your presentations that keep the listener at the level of maximum engagement, and provide interesting jumping off points for further questions. Instead of worrying if you've told people enough, put your attention to always leaving them wanting to know more!