Episode Number 71 - 06.07.11

What ‘Angry Birds’ Can Teach You About Getting Hired Part IV

You've gotta be more than the red bird!

Last week renowned “headhunter” and recruiter Skip Freeman shared how job seekers can become “more than just the red bird” by truly differentiating ourselves. In this next article, Freeman characterizes the “yellow bird” of the wildly popular online game Angry Birds, and perhaps the most critical thing candidates need to demonstrate to employers to land their next gig.  Read on to find out more.  A hint from the movie Jerry Maguire, “Show me the money!”



PART 4 (Become the ‘YELLOW bird!’)

Editor’s Note: This is the fourth in a series of blogs in which author of the best-selling “Headhunter” Hiring Secrets: The Rules of the Hiring Game Have Changed . . . Forever! and professional “headhunter” Skip Freeman draws an analogy between “Angry Birds,” the wildly popular online game, and another, far more important game—the hiring game. Previous blogs in this series are: The Pig’s Lair (Part I); Are YOU the ‘Red Bird’? (Part II); and How to Become MORE than just the ‘RED BIRD’ (Part III).

At the end of Part III of this blog series, I said that the next installment (this one) would consider the characteristics of the “blue bird.” But just this week I encountered a situation that so clearly illustrated the necessity for quickly moving beyond being just the “red bird” and adopting the characteristics of the “yellow bird” that I simply had to postpone the “blue bird” until the next installment.

Agile? Yes. Assertive? You betcha'. Distinctive? Without a doubt.

For those of you who are “Angry Birds” afficionados, you may already know the characteristics of the “yellow bird”; for those of you who are not, here are those characteristics:

The “YELLOW BIRD,” when tapped, flies off at warp speed, crashing through the barriers the pigs have set up to keep you from getting the egg.

In other words, unlike the “red bird,” who merely “loads” himself into the “sling shot” and “fires” himself off willy-nilly, HOPING to crash through the barriers the pigs have set up, the “yellow bird” is wily, aggressive, assertive and knows precisely how to break through the barrier and attain his desired goal!

As we’ve already seen in this series, many (if not MOST) job seekers start out as the “red bird,” usually by responding to, say, an online posting, and never advance beyond the “red bird” stage during their entire job search. That is, they, like the “red bird,” “load” themselves into the “sling shot” and “fire” themselves off willy-nilly at a company—HOPING that—somehow!—they will break through the “barriers” set up by the company! That somehow they will hear back from the company and get an interview. Not a very sound strategy, and certainly not a very reliable way to achieve the objective of getting an interview for a new job in today’s job market.

A brief aside . . .

You're not useless. Don't act like it.

This past week I spoke to about 300 juniors and seniors at the University of Alabama about the hypercompetitive, brutal job market of 2011. I asked the audience, “Who plays Angry Birds?” and the majority raised their hand.

I next asked, “Can anyone tell me about the ‘red bird’?” One young lady quickly responded, “A bird that is pretty useless!”

And there you have it! “A bird that is pretty useless,” and that is how many job seekers today position themselves, how they BRAND themselves. As noted in previous blogs—and as is certainly worth restating here—companies are NOT in the business of hiring people. They are in the business of making money. So the ONLY way for anyone to get hired in this economy is to brand themselves as someone who can make a company money or save a company money (or, ideally, accomplish both of these things). (See Part III, “How to Become MORE Than Just the RED BIRD!”)

And, just for the record, companies don’t hire job seekers, either. They hire revenue and profit producers.

Now to this past week’s example of how a “red bird” quickly learned how to become a “yellow bird.”

Break through those walls!

I received a LinkedIn InMail from a job seeker with this subject line: “Looking for a job.” This person immediately branded himself as a “red bird”! He had “flung” himself out there, HOPING something would happen. I responded to his InMail and suggested that he consider subject lines such as, “Driver of new business,” “Profit Producing Performer,” or “Successful marketer in the age of Twitter.” (You see, according to this person’s LinkedIn profile, he was in MARKETING! Unfortunately, however, I couldn’t tell from his profile precisely what he had done. I could see what he NOW does, but I was left clueless about his past accomplishments and achievements, if any.)

In my response back to this applicant, I told him that, with the subject line “Looking for a job,” he  had just BRANDED himself as “weak” and “desperate,” not as a proven marketer with prowess and significant accomplishments that could be expected to tweak the interest of a potential employer. I also noted that he wasn’t marketing himself as a marketer should—yet here he was claiming to be a marketer! (I admit I was a little hard on this young man, but I really felt he needed a dose of “reality”!)

To his credit, he wrote back, saying, “Skip, I am duly embarrassed and you are right.”

Be distinctive.

It wasn’t long before I noticed that he had revamped his LinkedIn profile to include the fact that he had launched three new products in 2010, achieving over $1 million in sales! Additionally, a notable industry publication awarded one of the products the distinction of “product of the year” in a particular category! (Talk about “hiding your light under a bushel”!)

Now, THAT is BRANDING! That is showing that you can MAKE A COMPANY MONEY or SAVE A COMPANY MONEY!

Branding yourself as someone who can make a company money or save a company money enables you—like the “yellow bird”!—to go after the company at warp speed and crash through the barriers they have set up to keep you from getting the job.

To be successful in today’s brutal job market, you MUST become the “yellow bird”! You MUST power yourself up with quantifiable accomplishments and achievements. You MUST define, specifically, how you can MAKE A COMPANY MONEY or SAVE A COMPANY MONEY, or ideally, accomplish BOTH of those things. Once you do these things, the chances of winning that job go from hope to reality.

Next: The “Blue Bird” Job Search Methodology


Skip Freeman is the president and CEO of The HTW Group (Hire to Win), an executive search firm out of Atlanta. He is among the top recruiters in the nation, based on total candidate placement. His new book, “Headhunter” Hiring Secrets: The Rules of the Hiring Game Have Changed… Forever, was released early last year and has consistently been ranked in the top 100 on Amazon.com for job hunting. The book outlines the new rules of today’s hiring game, gives expert advice to job seekers on how best to use those rules to their advantage, applying winning tactics and proven strategies to overcome our unpredictable job market.

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