There’s Nothing Like a Great Fit!

cartoon-men-with-puzzle-pieces-harper-andertonI just had to share this with you.

Last month, I hired a new member for my executive team. I am excited to have Harper on board, and it is apparent to all here that the fit is excellent. While a new hire is always exciting, Harper is more than simply a new hire. He is the embodiment of the ExecuNet way of job search.

No new hire has ever needed less education on what we’re all about than Harper. I say this because Harper used a résumé we did for him to attract my attention and coaching from one of our strategists to wow us in the interviews.

Because it’s a senior position, reporting directly to me, I chose to handle the process myself. Of course, I posted the position on ExecuNet – where else is there a better collection of brilliant executives than right here? I sifted through the résumés that came through and spoke with some promising candidates; then Harper’s résumé appeared and I was immediately drawn in. The résumé was so well done! The story it told, the metrics to support his achievements, it was all there. I immediately emailed him to set up a phone interview. When we spoke, I told him his résumé was really well done and I loved the way it was put together.

Harper responded, “I’m not surprised to hear that. It’s one of yours!”

I was delighted and should have offered him the job right then. Instead, over the next several weeks, my management team and I were treated to his interviewing skills. You see, Harper had participated in one of our group coaching sessions with Don Weintraub and Harriette Lowenthal and later worked individually with Harriette on how to stand out in a crowded market by weaving his personal story – the “fit” component – into his business story. It was gratifying to see my company’s product in action!

Harper, like most ExecuNet members, is an over 50 executive. He has a rather diverse background, rooted in technology and start-ups. As such, he ran into age bias, particularly in the tech industry, and could get caught in the online filters because he didn’t “check all the boxes.” What those filters miss is all the other boxes candidates like Harper fill, boxes representing skills that encompass so much.

With Harriette’s advice, Harper decided to focus his search on smaller companies, ones where his wide range of experiences would be appreciated and he could wear more than one hat. Smaller companies tend to place more value on the older executive, seeing experienced candidates as versatile, not as overqualified. Harper figured a smaller company would allow him to make a meaningful impact without having to wade through corporate bureaucracy, and having been in the start-up world for the last 15 years, corporate bureaucracy was not where he wanted to spend his energy.

His coaching sessions taught him to identify and articulate his own personal value proposition. As Don always says, this is the one area members his team works with need the most help, and Harper says he was no different. He needed Harriette to interview him, identify his uniqueness and show him how to highlight it. Harper shared that he had no idea before working with Harriette how important this is. He suggests “spending time, preferably with a coach, figuring out what’s really important to you, what you believe in. You’ve got to look beyond a résumé for how you present yourself. I had no idea how vital it is to create a story that weaves personal experience with business experience.”

I couldn’t agree more. The more senior the position the more important fit is. Everyone you interview is qualified; one glace at the résumé determines that. The interview is about determining, “Do I want to work with this person?” Within a small group, personalities matter. No matter how great a person’s abilities, it won’t work if the personalities don’t mesh. Through his ability to show who he is within the scope of his diverse business experience, the fit was obvious.

It’s really a great feeling when you end up the consumer of your own product!

Mark Anderson

Mark Anderson

Mark Anderson is ExecuNet's president and chief economist. An Arjay Miller Scholar, Mark received his MBA from Stanford University and a BA in economics from Yale University. He joined ExecuNet in 1993, with extensive marketing and new product and business development experience, having served as president and founder of A&M Associates, an investment management firm. Mark's corporate leadership experience includes several senior marketing and financial positions with RCA Global Communications (a GE subsidiary) and American Can Company.

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