Olivia Gamber: How do you come up with a compelling message that’s powerful and concise when you have over 20 years of experience?

Kevin Kermes: This becomes a big challenge, particularly if you are … I’ll say it again, there’s a common theme here. If you are approaching your search from the standpoint of reacting to job posts, you’re going to feel like the job descriptions, even those that come through search firms, where you feel like you’ve to check the block on everything and you’re trying to be all things to all people versus taking an opportunity whether you’re currently employed or not, doing an inventory of what you’ve done over the last 20, 25, 30 years and boiling it down to two to three key problems that you solve. Figuring out where you want to put your weight to bear in creating a narrative around that. A, it allows you … you may not feel this way when you look at job descriptions, but I’ll tell you what, job descriptions more often than not are not really representative of the true problem that they need somebody in the role to, particularly at the more senior level because just think about this.

They are not going to broadcast on a piece of paper where their weak points are. A good search firm will know what it is that truly needs to be solved. They’ll know what the real issues are. Even with excellent search firms, once you get inside and you start talking to leadership, you’re going to start to learn. Let’s put aside the search firm piece. What becomes important is not trying to morph to everything, and be everything, be all things to all people, but to boil it down to those two to three areas that number one, you really enjoy, because it’s very rare that we’re exceptional at things that we don’t enjoy. There are things we can do easily that we don’t necessarily see enormous value in that other people do. That’s a whole other conversation, but the things that really get you motivated to jump out of bed in the morning on Monday morning and get back to work and not hit the snooze alarm, those are the things that you need to be focused in on. Not thinking about, “Well I have to do all these other things.”

No you don’t. Those are the spoils of war at 25, 30 years experience that you have the ability now to focus in on exactly what it is you want to do. The one exception here and I can’t be kind in how I say this is, if you have championed mediocrity throughout your career, and you’re now 25, 30 years and you’ve never really done anything well, this isn’t going to work for you. If you have done well and you’re frustrated because you’re looking at the opportunities in front of you and going, “I can do so much better.” First of all, you’re the exact person that we work with. Beyond that, it fundamentally becomes an issue of boiling down what it is that you do well and being relentless about focusing in on delivering that for someone else. What do you think?

Olivia Gamber: I love that, because … I’m going to take a little bit different angle, because you pretty much hit on the message piece and got everything I would say, but in terms of testing the message, that’s another piece I think a lot of people avoid and we treat it like business development for your career. Any time you’re going to go to market or you’re thinking about going at something from a different angle and positioning your experience, you’re making so may assumptions. We really recommend that you go to the market. Who is the audience that you’re trying to serve and listen to them. Ask them questions. Get a diagnostic of what are their problems, where are you seeing themes in the market? Position your key shrinks in the right way to where you’re going to get the most traction.

That’s a step that a lot of people skip because they’re focused on me, me, me and it’s very much just egocentric and that just not effective. What we’ve learned is go out there with a consultative approach and ask the right questions and then you’ll be able to position your experience in the most relevant way and you can be more dynamic about. That’s another benefit to leading with the conversation just like what Kevin said. If you’re leading with a resume and a job description, you really are positioning yourself as a commodity because you’re just having a recruiter check the boxes and compare two pieces of paper, whereas if you’re leading with a conversation, you’re able to effectively market yourself 10 times better.

Kevin Kermes: Totally agree.