Do You Need to Change Your Job Search Strategy?

Dan was about to “resettle” in a job he no longer wanted. He had been searching for six months with no offers. Conducting a job search while working was especially difficult for Dan, due to his 16 years of company loyalty. Dan felt that the search could be detrimental to his career if his CEO found out, but he gave us three more months to get results. If not, Dan was going to double down his effort in his present job, hoping to be promoted to COO, even though the CEO repeatedly told him that he didn’t need a COO. Dan had interviewed a lot, but for one reason or another, he felt the jobs were not right. He had shut down most job opportunities at the beginning of the process. In his mind, the fit had to be perfect to risk the exposure of going on an interview. As Chief Sales Officer in a public company, he was also worried about the impact on the company if stakeholders found out. His approach had taken a toll, and he was losing hope and confidence.

I asked Dan if he thought he could get job offers. He wasn’t sure because he hadn’t obtained a job offer in 17 years. So, I challenged Dan to “get one offer.” He eventually accepted my challenge, even though he was skeptical that this approach would drive the results that he wanted.

I asked him to put aside all of his criteria for the next job, “Forget your industry, compensation, size, culture, organization structure, reporting relationship and geography goals.” We established two criteria: 1) the company had to have a reputable/ethical governance team and 2) the role had to be a broader C-level job than he currently had. While this job search approach is not what we use for most clients, it might be right for you.

Are you a candidate for the “one offer” strategy?

Are you about to give up on your search and settle back into a job you don’t want?

Have previous searches been abandoned due to poor results?

If you are in between jobs-have you spent three months searching without an offer?

Even though Dan agreed to the “one offer” job search strategy, it took time for him to believe that it was a good use of his time. Within one month, we zeroed in on two opportunities that seemed viable. Whenever Dan hesitated because he was “certain” he wouldn’t accept the job, I challenged him once more. “Prove to yourself that you can get one offer.”  We coached him on how to deal with doubts from employers-with an authentic and direct approach.

When Dan felt “wanted” by two companies,  the “one offer” job search strategy started to make sense. When two offers came in the same week, Dan made the decision to play them out to their natural conclusion. He knew he needed practice negotiating, and I encouraged him, because he liked both management teams. The negotiation stage is usually high pressure; Dan was relaxed, because he was fairly certain the jobs were not right for him.  He no longer felt stuck, and he realized how unhappy he was in his present job.  Staying for a promotion, even if it was likely, no longer seemed like a good option. One job offer was in an undesirable city (but within a short airplane commute from his family) and the other offer from  a smaller company involved a 30 percent pay cut. Dan wouldn’t have invested the time with either opportunity without the “one offer” challenge. Both companies had solid reputations: one offer was for a COO position with sales responsibility and the other was for a Chief Marketing and Sales position.

Why Waste Everyone’s Time?

This strategy is not about collecting offers. It is about:

1) The Ability to Assess.  When you pursue a job opportunity from start to finish, you receive invaluable information about your marketing, communication and negotiation skills. You can make adjustments before the “real deal” comes along.

2) Building Confidence. When you receive an offer, even if it doesn’t meet all of your key goals, your confidence soars.

3) Providing a Statement of Proof. When you can reference an offer, it builds your credibility in the marketplace, especially if you have been looking for a while.

4) Improving Performance. Practice is the key to improvement when going through the job search process. You will be better prepared when your dream opportunity presents itself.

5) Taking a risk with potential rewards. CEOs and BODs have power. If a C-level job is what you are after, keep in mind that these roles and the components of the offer can change radically during the interviewing and negotiation process. Beloved candidates have power too. Priorities can change and amazing things can happen.

Something amazing happened for Dan. He accepted one of those “off target” offers. The company in the undesirable city is allowing him to commute for two years, while his daughter finishes high school. In the meantime, he is getting valuable experience as a COO with an opportunity to assume the CEO role within two years. The smaller company upped the compensation offer to level the playing field, but in the end, Dan wanted an opportunity to be CEO.











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