Case Study: How one job hunter landed six times as many offers using the Briefcase Technique
August 25th, 2011 - 19 Comments
Today, a story about one of my students, “Vince,” (name anonymized) who discovered that impressive credentials like an MBA alone won’t get you a job.
But deeply, truly understanding the desires of the hiring manager will.
See for yourself…
Vince spent $100,000 and two years getting an MBA only to find out that employers didn’t care about MBAs any more. They said they only wanted people with experience.
His school’s Career Services Department gave him the exact same advice they gave every student in every situation. Shotgun out as many resumes and applications as possible and hope something sticks.Vince knew from his struggle to find a summer internship halfway through his MBA that this approach probably wasn’t going to get him a job.
Certainly not a great job for good money doing something he loved.That’s when he did something most job hunters never consider doing. He stepped back and thought about how he could make himself stand out. How he could really get into the heads of his potential employers.
Vince found a way to PROVE he was a better candidate than his fellow graduates and applicants with more experience.
Comparing his mid-program internship search to his post-graduation job search, Vince boosted his call backs from 30% to 70%. Better yet, he boosted his offers from 11% to 86%.
Even though Vince applied to only a third the number of companies in his second round, he received six times as many offers!
By truly understanding what his “customers” wanted (HINT: it wasn’t experience), he was able to go from being just another graduate to being sought-after.
Here’s how he did it.
MBA ≠ A Guaranteed Job
Vince was tired of his job as a management consultant. The short projects and huge emphasis on billable hours wore him down. He knew that if he could move into the consumer technologies field then he’d be a lot happier. But how?
He had a plan:
- Quit my job.
- Take on a bunch of student loans.
- Spend two years to get my MBA.
- Graduate and start a new, better job.
With graduation coming up, Vince started his job search. The news was grim.
“Every company I talked to said they were just hiring people with experience,” Vince said. “I had invested $100,000 into my education and then found out companies will no longer overlook your lack of experience if you have a credential. It’s just not true anymore. How do you gain experience when you’re just starting out?”
The business world had changed. But the job search strategies his school’s Career Services Department gave him hadn’t.
“I knew that since they gave the same advice to everyone, there was no differentiation. It was pretty prosaic.”
Nonetheless, Vince gave it a shot. Halfway through his program, he needed a summer internship. He sent out resumes and cover letters to 30 companies and hoped for the best.
“I was very scatter shot. Not at all niche. I had a form resume and cover letter. Clicking on ‘submit’ 30 times isn’t that hard. I just tried to shoot as as many resumes as possible.”
The results weren’t very promising. Of the 30 he sent out, only nine called him back. Worse yet, because he hadn’t done his homework before the interview, he wasn’t prepared. Only one of the nine made him an offer, and it wasn’t a great internship.
Vince knew he needed a new strategy. That’s when he saw Earn1K.
“I treated my job interviewing strategy like a business.”
“I’ve read your blog since 2004. I’m a big believer in having as many psychological tools as possible. Your focus on developing automated systems instead of relying on willpower really resonated with me.”
Vince knew that not all of the course applied to him, but the psychology did.
“The psychology of how to convince someone to part with their money is something I wanted more scientific analysis on, not just intuition. How could I convince an interviewer that I was worth a large salary seemed similar to convincing a business that I could freelance for them. Just replace ‘customer’ with ‘hiring manager.’”
After graduating, Vince didn’t want a repeat of his internship search. He decided to approach his job interviewing strategy like a business. He wanted to understand his clients need and know how to pitch aimed at solving those needs. He signed up for Earn1K.
“I used to consume, and consume, and consume…”
Vince dove into two key Earn1K lessons on getting inside the heads of your customers. He studied a 37-minute video on how to define your target market and another 35-minute video on how to identify the benefits your clients truly want. There were also bonus videos and worksheets to help him make each lesson actionable.
“Before Earn1K, when it came to preparing for an interview, I was just a huge consumer of content. I’d read blog posts, commentary, any info about the company I could find,” Vince said. “It didn’t help. Having info wasn’t enough. I still didn’t understand their real business challenges.”
After completing Earn1K, Vince developed a new approach.
“Now, if I’m interested in working for a company, the first thing I do is interview a ton of alumni who work there. I ask what their pain points are. What keeps the managers up at night? This is the info I really need to know. Once I have that focus, I can take the next step. Figure out how to address those needs.”
Vince didn’t just brainstorm solutions to those needs, he created a detailed presentation outlining his strategy for solving them. (This is part of the Briefcase Technique, one of the tactics he’d learned in Earn1K.) He also created new, very targeted resumes and cover letters for each company on his list.
Now to test his new approach…
This time, he only sent out 10 resumes and cover letters. Of those 10, he had seven call him back. An increase from 30% to 70%. But Vince knew the real test would be the interview.
“My first interview was with an online tech company. From my conversations with alumni, I knew their biggest challenge at the moment was cloud computing pricing. Sure enough, that question came up early in the interview. I said ‘You know, I’ve thought about that issue and have a document that should address that.’ And I don’t mean just notes. I had a tables, a whole strategy.”
The interviewer was hooked.
“I could tell he was surprised,” Vince recalled. “No one does this. But at the end he said it was the most in-depth discussion about company issues he’d had with an interviewee.”
Of his seven interviews, six companies offered him a job. An increase from 11% to 86%.
“With six job offers to choose from…”
With six job offers to choose from, Vince controlled where to take his career. Eager to learn all that he could, he chose a company that offered him a high-level, customer-facing position and promised to rotate him every couple of months so he could really learn the business.
Vince credits Earn1K with teaching him the skills he needed to connect with and sell himself to those hiring managers.
“Earn1K taught me that it’s okay to be unorthodox. In an economy where where everyone looks the same, being a little unorthodox is a plus. You have to hustle. You have to be better than the others. Don’t be afraid to show how good you are, to show them you understand what their problems are. The Briefcase Technique is a great way to do that. I love it. That’s how I got an excellent job instead of a mediocre one.
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- How to frame your salary requests as benefits to your employer (rather than selfish perks for you)
- JUSTIFYING your proposed salary with research and data
- Ways to come to the negotiating table with powerful leverage (and command respect)
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