Jeff Lipschultz’s Blog

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The Importance of a Consistent Message

Whether you are searching for a job or searching for the best candidate, a consistent message needs to be communicated throughout the entire candidate selection process.  For both parties, the message can center around the Five W’s:

  • who you are
  • what you seek in an employer or employee
  • where you are in your career or hiring process
  • when you expect to make a decision
  • why you are looking for a job or candidate
  • (and even how: how you expect to arrive at a decision)

For example, some who’s and what’s for both:

Candidate:  I am an experienced marketing executive looking to lead a team marketing custom software.

Company:  We are a Fortune1000 software development company looking for a marketing executive with 15+ years software marketing experience, an MBA, and five years experience leading others.talkdirectly

Sounds simple, doesn’t it?  You might be surprised how often both sides veer of the path of delivering a consistent message. 

The Candidate’s Message:

Candidates need to follow the advice I’ve written for interviewing. Specifically, they need to understand what the company is looking for and communicate the experiences and skills that tie directly to those requirements.  An inconsistent message starts to form when a candidate starts layering in all the other things they might be interested in or relating skill sets that the company does not need.  Mentioning all these things dilutes the core message.

Throughout the interview, all the interview responses and examples provided need to tie back to the core message.  By doing so, a candidate will reinforce the impression that has started to form of what they are all about.  The more examples provided, the stronger the message gets.

The Company’s Message:

On the company side, the consistent message can get diluted when there are a series of interviewers who have not been prepared adequately.  Each interviewer should be asking questions tied to the same requirements.  Also, when asked, “what is the company looking for in a candidate,” every interviewer should answer the question almost identically.  Granted, direct reports to the position may have different needs than the supervisor to the position.  However, all these answers should be agreed upon up front.

Another area of concern is the messaging on what the company is all about.  If one employee says the company’s core competence or mission is X and another says Y, what is a candidate to think?

Even little things like “where are you in the process?” can be a tripping point.  If one interviewer says, “we just started looking at candidates” and another says, “we’re close to picking three finalists,” what is the candidate going to think?  Although, both statements could be true, it doesn’t sound very consistent.

Bottom Line:

Just like in traditional marketing, when the message is not consistent across all sources, the receivers of the information lose sight of the intended message.  A little preparation and strategy can go a long way (on both sides) to ensure both clearly communicate what they are looking for and what they are all about.

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September 1, 2009 - Posted by | Candidate Selection, Interviewing 101

13 Comments »

  1. And the message from Jeff is again a good one!!

    Comment by Gil Vander Voort | September 1, 2009 | Reply

  2. Jeff,
    This post is perfectly focused around a consistent, targeted message.

    Working with job candidates daily, I coach them to wrap their resume strategy tightly around a very targeted audience’s needs to avoid the loose-fit result you describe when trying to layer in too many varying job interests.

    By hand-selecting value drivers that fit snugly to a hiring decision-maker’s needs, the candidate and company can clearly interlace their needs/value offerings.

    Thank you for a clarifying post!

    Jacqui
    @ValueIntoWords

    Comment by careertrend | September 1, 2009 | Reply

  3. Exactly right! MOST candidates blur their relevant skills / experience / strengths by trying to tell ALL about themselves in their resume, cover letter, interview, or follow up.

    The company is primarily concerned with two things: “Are you qualified to do this job well? and, Will you fit into our culture?” Most anything that gets presented that doesn’t answer those two questions creates doubt.

    Prepare in advance and sharpen your message and you will succeed where most others fail.

    Good piece Jeff!

    Comment by Harry Urschel | September 1, 2009 | Reply

  4. Great post! I have seen both sides of the inconsistent message issue. From the company standpoint, it’s important that one person be the “team leader” to coordinate/integrate the ideas and opinions of each interviewer, train them in good interviewing techniques and keep them consistent in their messages. The team leader should be the one who communicates directly with the recruiter and candidate; otherwise “too many cooks spoil the broth” as the old saying goes.

    Comment by Mary Wilson | September 1, 2009 | Reply

  5. Jeff, Great article on a subject at the heart of recruiting and business: Fashioning and delivering the right message to the right target audience. Going forward candidate messages (e.g. Resume Summary) must be tailored/customized for the position.

    In my recruiter marketing training “The Art of Search”, I speak about “saying the right thing to the right person at the right time.” And the messages must be targeted with specific follow-up actions.

    For more about my firm and my training, visit my firm’s website: http://www.RamerGroup.com or contact me: mramer@ramergroup.com. FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER: @MikeRamer

    Comment by mikeramer | September 1, 2009 | Reply

  6. Great message. From an applicant/job seeker/consultant view focus on customer’s performance gaps and perceived needs.

    Comment by Kelly S | September 1, 2009 | Reply

  7. It sounds a bit like a marriage. Both parties want specific things, and when you try to skirt the issues at hand, it can get pretty mixed up. On the other hand, good communication up front can make things so much easier.

    Something troubling here is how many candidates will be happy to take a job they will come to dislike, just to have a job. That is short sighted. Again, some parallels to a good marriage. 😉

    Comment by Mark Aaron Murnahan | September 1, 2009 | Reply

  8. Jeff, this is way cool. As someone who has to find a job and hire others, it is true how you present this as a two-way street of staying true on message. Keep finding that the more specific you are on both sides, the better the fit. Nice post.

    Comment by juliorvarela | September 3, 2009 | Reply

  9. Good post…all hiring managers should read it. As a corporate recruiter there is nothing worse than doing damage control when the candidate has been told a multitude of stories – from expectations to state of the business. An inconsistent message makes everyone look foolish and reduces credibilty. Although “too” consistent of a message can seem disingenuous – like everything it is a balance.

    Comment by Gretchen | September 4, 2009 | Reply

  10. Another “right on” informative message. Great, Jeff.

    Comment by Suzanne Levison | September 4, 2009 | Reply

  11. Exactly right Jeff, in order to do justice to the employer and candidates job postings should follow the format you mentioned – that of a press release. I cringe when I see internal job descriptions copied and pasted on employer websites or job boards.

    Comment by Karla Porter | September 5, 2009 | Reply

  12. Jeff,

    Excellent post! In today’s job market, job seekers need to differentiate themselves, stand out from the crowd so that recruiters and hiring managers can see the value-add of their addition to the team. What I love about your post is that the ideal way to stand out is by truly listening! In that way, you can focus your own skills and experiences to better match exactly what the employer is looking for.

    I would also add that employers are not shy about asking candidates questions, and so should job seekers. Be sure you completely understand what they are looking for!

    Great post!

    Mark Cummuta

    Blog: CIO Job Search: A Real Life Chronicle
    LinkedIn: http://www.LinkedIn.com/in/MarkCummuta
    Twitter: http://www.Twitter.com/TriumphCIO/

    Comment by Mark Cummuta | September 7, 2009 | Reply

  13. Well said Jeff! A post all candidates and employers would benefit from reading. Nothing worse than a “mixed message”.

    Comment by Dustin DeVries | September 10, 2009 | Reply


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