OK, so you’re a hiring manager, and you’ve just arrived at the office, grabbed your coffee, and opened up your email inbox. There — in boldfaced lettering — the subject line of my email screams
JOB PROPOSAL MEMO.
And you’re thinking … great. Another spam from some job seeker. But you open it anyway.
And that’s how my story at Beyond.com began.
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Ten years and two weeks ago, a new position was created at Beyond.com, which was invented and filled by yours truly. The primary tool used to accomplish this? It wasn’t a resume or cover letter.
It was a Job Proposal Memo … a brainstorm I had. A document which helped solidify my candidacy and created a new position at a young, growing company.
Here’s the gist.
The Job Proposal Memo is a summary of what a candidate will accomplish in the first 30-60-90 days in a given role at a company. It is similar to a cover letter, but focused more on what you can and will accomplish in this role. I began it with a summary of my plans and goals for the job after the first 30th, 60th, and 90th day of employment. I articulated at each stage how I was going to accomplish these plans and goals. And, my final paragraph summarized my desire to meet and discuss the position and answer any questions that my prospective employer might have about the memo. I had already done a ton of research on the company, and I knew it might have a need for my skills, but it just hadn’t posted the actual job. Clairvoyant? Maybe a little.
It turned out that my Memo was extremely well received and helped the CEO visualize the role and how I was the perfect fit. The Memo demonstrated that I was thinking not about me, but how I can use my skills and experience to impact and achieve company objectives. More often than not, taking a proactive and creative approach will gain the ear, respect, and admiration of company decision makers. Not to toot my own horn, but I’ve been with the company over 10 years, and have countless examples of successful contributions during my tenure here. All for a job that didn’t exist (on paper, anyway) when I got it.
So, as a recruiter or hiring manager, are you only staying “in the box” when thinking about candidates? How would you have reacted if this been you? Would you have simply hit that DELETE key and moved on? Was it just dumb luck on my part, or sheer brilliance?
Seriously, though, I did nothing more than bridge the communications gap. You know, that gap that exists when a candidate is qualified to do a job, but you just don’t see it because they did a poor job communicating that they could do it?
Maybe part of the problem is how they’re communicating. In a lot of ways, the resume has become a “necessary evil” within the hiring process. There have been volumes written by HR professionals about how to improve and enhance the resume Many hiring managers and recruitment professionals have come to realize its significant shortcomings — and perhaps fatal flaws — as a tool for hiring and projecting superior performance. After all, a resume gives you a rear-view mirror look at the candidate’s performance and accomplishments, but it doesn’t tell you what they can do for you now and in the future.
The traditional resume probably isn’t going away anytime soon, and maybe you don’t want a bunch of job seekers filling your inbox with a bunch of JOB PROPOSAL MEMO emails. But think of new ways to challenge your candidates so that they can reduce or eliminate that communications gap problem. To help increase effectiveness and efficiency of the hiring process, could you ask job seekers to prepare a Job Proposal Memo with their resume, or after the initial phone screen? This could provide crucial insight into how candidates think about the position and company, while enabling hiring managers to gauge which prospective employees will most impact and affect the business goals.
What about asking a couple of questions in the job description, like “What do you plan to accomplish in the first 30, 60, and 90 days in this role?” and “How do you plan to achieve those goals?” The job seekers who take the time to answer these questions when they apply will quickly give the recruiter an idea of who is and isn’t likely to succeed at the company. Maybe those who don’t deserve the DELETE key.