So you might remember a post from a few days ago where I mentioned the 100 day strategic agenda that I used in a recent internal interview. Surprise, surprise, I got the job!
I really was surprised to get The Call. The honest truth is that I was probably the ultimate underdog in that race. I’m a relative newcomer to the industry (3 years in Higher Ed) and have zero experience in that particular facet of the business (Admissions). Yet now I’m the Director of Admissions for Graduate and Professional Studies. How could this happen?
This is my post-mortem, offered up for whatever value it holds for you. I learned some stuff during this process that I don’t want to forget, so it definitely has value for me.
One reason I considered myself the underdog is that I actually applied for the job twice. The first time I applied, I submitted the standard resume and internal application. I was informed that my background wasn’t a fit (and, as I’ve already established, they were right). I sat on that for a few weeks, then decided to apply again. You know, because I can’t get enough punishment. Kidding. The job sounded really enticing to me, and I was certain that I had sufficient transferrable skills. So for the second application, I decided that if the interview committee wouldn’t or couldn’t "read between the lines" of my resume, I’d have to be more explicit. I decided to do the full-frontal personal marketing assault. I mentioned in the previous post what this entailed, but for the record here’s what I submitted and to whom:
- Standard resume to the interview committee and reference letter people (see below)
- Standard internal application to the interview committee
- 2-column spreadsheet analyzing the job requirements and wishlist against my KSA’s (knowledge, skills, abilities) to the hiring manager. Each cell in the leftmost column included one of the job requirements, copy/pasted directly from the job posting. The rightmost column included my corresponding experiences, etc. I color coded the rightmost column–yellow meant that I met less than 100% of the requirements. Green meant that I met 100% or more of the requirements. This was also a great personal exercise–if I’d had more than a couple of yellow cells, I probably wouldn’t have continued the application process.
- "Can I get a witness" (aka reference) letters from several senior internal folks. VP’s, Exec. Directors, etc. Including my boss. These went to the hiring manager. I think you’d have to be careful with this one. You can’t really ask people to pipe up for you if you haven’t built some kind of (good) track record.
- I have pretty much zero external marketing experience, but a fair bit of internal marketing experience. I whipped up an informal document that outlined marketing projects I’ve done, past and present, and how they’d translate well. This went only to the reference letter people, just for their info.
- The 100 Day Strategic Agenda (.doc) went to every person I met in all the interviews (a full day of interviews with roughly 20 people).
- Post-interview "thank you" email to everyone I interviewed with. I just did a group email rather than individuals.
My main goal for the full-frontal personal marketing assault was primarily to allow myself to sleep at night. I knew I could do the job and I figured I’d enjoy the work. Even though I’d been turned down once before and figured it’d happen again, I wanted to be sure that I had no regrets when I thought back on my application. As it turns out, I have no regrets, but I do wish I’d done a little more homework.