Turn a competitor’s strength into a weakness

Buried in these pages is a pearl of wisdom that seems to be striking quite a chord with readers, so I thought I might bring it to light with its own topic.

People and companies always use their x years of experience as a reason to hire them or trust them. Many years ago I had the displeasure of working with a marketing lady for a small company who would dismiss my ideas by telling me she had 7 years marketing experience in this particular industry so I told her:

” The truth is you’ve only had one year of experience and you’ve done it 7 times”.

Years later I would incorporate that concept into jsr to help people win jobs against other candidates with more experience. Let me explain that: you’re in an interview and the interviewer says something like, “We’re looking for someone with more than your four years of experience… sorry”.

Show’s over, right? Wrong! I was advising our readers to say something like,

“Do you want someone with ten year’s experience when, in fact, they have just one year’s experience done ten times, or do you want someone who can make something happen in this job?”.

Looking at experience this way can actually turn your competitor’s strength into a weakness. We’re not saying that 10 year’s experience is a bad thing. This strategy simply allows job-seekers to address the real issue, which is demonstrating they can get the results the employer wants, rather than defending a deficit of a few years in their resume.

Business owners should also take note of this concept. If you’re trying to attract clients by saying you have 10 years experience in xyz, when in fact you’ve been doing the same thing for the past 10 years… you could be blown out of the water by some young upstart competitor who invents a new of funkier way of doing whatever it is you do.

Relying on your years of experience is a dangerous trap unless you’re evolving in which case you’re learning every year.

Blockbuster can’t rely on it’s many years of experience in the video industry for its ongoing success because they’ve been doing the same thing year after year. So when a new upstart like Netflix comes along, Blockbuster gets a kick in the arse from a company that is an infant by comparison. The best thing they can do is get into some sort of On-demand Video Download business… but where does that leave their franchisees, how do they make money if no-one is coming into the store to rent anymore?

Let me tie that back to job-seeking.

You’re the CEO of a new video download rental business looking for a business development manager, you have a resume from a Blockbuster business development manager with 10 years experience and a resume from a guy who spent the last 3 years building a hugely popular blog of movie reviews and recommendations… who would you hire? You’re going to hire the person who can get the job done, not necessarily the person with the most years of experience, so I’d go with the blogger.

My point (or one of my points) is this: employers (and customers too) don’t want 10 years of experience; they want someone who can get them the results they’re looking for. Focus on delivering better results for your clients or employers and you’ve taken a huge step towards securing your future.

Published in: on November 23, 2005 at 11:26 pm Comments (6)

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