The purple cow approach to job search

You’ve got 10 years’ experience in project management and after redundancy you’re on the hunt for work. You see a position you feel you’re suited to and apply. You wait…an acknowledgement arrives, more waiting…finally another letter..”Thank for your recent application for…we have received an exceptionally high number of applications for this vacancy and regrettably…” You read no further. And unfortunately this sets the pattern for the coming weeks/months.

The problem with this approach is you’re like a cow in a field full of cows – invisible. With so many similarly well-qualified candidates to choose from it’s tough for an employer to single one out. The odds are against you.

Here’s an alternative strategy – turn purple!

Yes, I’m talking about Seth Godin’s book ‘Purple Cow’, a plea to those operating in a crowded market to stand out by being remarkable. And that means being worthy of being remarked upon. Why should people talk about you? Give them a reason.

Consider this – here you are with 10 years’ experience in project management. You decide to take a bolder approach. You network and start engaging directly with decision-makers. You explain you’re compiling research for a book entitled “From the pyramids to the London Olympics – 10 great projects and what we can learn from them”. You ask some people if they’d like to contribute to the book. There’s a spark in your eye as you speak about this project; you’re fired up and they remark how passionate you are about it. You relate a great story about how you used some sound management techniques to see through a construction project, and what it says about team work and adaptability. You compare it with the movie Apollo 13, where people pooled their resources under great pressure and came up with innovative solutions to a seemingly impossible situation.

But you don’t hog the conversational air time. You ask questions, you listen intently. You find common ground and tease some fascinating information from the people in the room. They seek your advice. They’re impressed with your knowledge and enthusiasm for your field. You’ve gained their attention and their trust. You’ve made an impact.

Finally, the breakthrough; one of them asks if you’d mind coming in next week for an hour (“Is an hour enough?” they ask) to do this interview. They also want to expand on this issue they’ve revealed is causing them concern right now.

Isn’t that neat? Here you are looking for interviews and now you’ve got one – but you’re the interviewer!

The point is you’re no longer invisible in a field full of project managers.

You’ve turned purple!

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