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Ask Dave

People Are Your Gateway

Mandy is changing career fields. After being turned down for her dream job, the interviewer told Mandy she'd be perfect for some clerical or receptionist positions. How does she get them to see her potential?

QUESTION: Mandy in Louisiana is completely changing career fields. After being turned down for her dream job, the interviewer told Mandy she’d be perfect for some clerical or receptionist positions. Mandy is trying to move out of those positions. How does she get them to see her potential?

ANSWER: I’m trying to think from the other perspective. If I were sitting there looking at your résumé, what would make me look at you that way. I think that’s what you’re looking for—your brand differentiation, if you will, on your personal brand. Right now your personal brand screams secretary or clerical, and you don’t want it to scream that.

It’s not stupid tax. It’s just where you landed with your career. In the 1970s, people used to tell women don’t learn to type because they’d get stuck in the typing pool. That was the old thing back when there were huge offices full of people with typewriters. It’s that kind of an issue.

The thing that usually breaks this loose more than anything else is people. You got a hold of the wrong lady, or maybe your reaction when she says that is, “I’m grateful that we’ve connected and that you see me as joining the team. I’ve got to tell you that I have the ability to do Six Sigma stuff. I have the ability to do these other things, and that’s the direction I’ll be moving in with my career. I won’t be going there through the secretarial pool in your company. You and I need to reset somehow because somehow in my communication to you, I’ve messed up and I apologize for that.” Or something like that where you just, in a very diplomatic and persuasive way, say, “No way!” You’ve got to kind of shock the monkey here, right?

You’ve got to somehow shift that conversation. The thing you’ve got to know is that when you’re shifting the conversation, the outcome is not only dependent on your ability and skill to verbally do that but also on her capability to reset her mind. She may not have the skill set to shift with you. That means you’re on to the next interview, or you’ve got to get over her head or around her somehow.

People are your gateway to things. It’s not training, and it’s not a résumé entry. People are your gateway. The other part of that discussion then becomes who do you know in that firm who can help you get someone to give you a different look than the clerical look from that firm? In other words, if one of your kids plays soccer with one of the VP’s kids, then you talk to that VP and say, “What do I have to do to get you guys to look at me this way? This is the only thing I’m interested in, and you’re the perfect company. I can add value to your company. I can make you more than I cost you.” Have that conversation, and then that guy goes, “Okay, let me talk to HR.” Then all of a sudden HR grows a brain. Otherwise, they’re just going to go down the track that’s in front of them, which is your résumé. People don’t hire off of résumés. They hire people. We use résumés to cull. The résumé is just not the answer. You’ve got to have some kind of people connection.

The only other thing that pops in my head is if there is a small business idea where you use the applied mathematics, you open that today with a business card. You start doing statistical consulting. If you do it for free, I don’t care. Now it’s on your résumé, and you are a statistical consultant. You’re not a secretary anymore. You could talk about your experience with X company or Y company and how you were able to go in and add value to them, but you really don’t want to own your own business. You wanted to be in the corporate environment with Six Sigma, and so that’s why you’re there. You’ve been able to add value to X, Y and Z companies with your statistical consulting firm. Today, you need to open that.

You just opened your own business today. Go ahead and build a website so they can see it. Maybe use some examples of analysis that you’ve done that added value to a situation or cut costs in a situation because you did a cost analysis on something. A few case studies or something. Even if you go like an intern and do that free for some small businesses, it gives you that flavor. And who knows? You might strike it rich there and never go to work for anybody. You never know what door’s going to open when you’re out there moving around in the marketplace.

Let’s go do that kind of thing. I think the book I would give you is Bob Beaudine’s The Power of Who, which is the connectivity piece. My friend Rabbi Daniel Lapin, who wrote one of my favorite business books of all time, Thou Shall Prosper, says that all of your opportunities in your life come through other people. They don’t come through your education. They come through other people. People look at you and your situation, and they are the gateway. They’re also the fence. They’re also the barrier. The gate can close; the gate can open.

Your relational intelligence is a greater indicator of your financial success and your career success in the marketplace than your skill. We even see that in the spotlight with people ... where someone in the music business in Nashville is really talented, but they’re such a twerp that nobody will work with them. Pretty soon, they’re just gone. They had the ability to be an A player. You see it in the professional sports world. You can name them. You know who the twerps are. As a fan, I know, and I don’t even know them personally. You know who they don’t want to throw the ball to because he’s a jerk. They’ll throw it in the dirt just to keep him from getting another reception on his stat sheet.

People are your gateway. They open up doors for you.