Several years ago, a longtime friend from California called from out of the blue and asked me if I would advise him on getting his dream job, which he was applying for and thought he was a viable candidate.  The post was the athletics directorship at a medium-sized university that wanted to take its athletic program to the next level.  The bad news was the search committee was interviewing six people for the spot!

Within sixty minutes, I gave him the game plan and I assured him if he followed through on these ideas, he would automatically leapfrog over the competition.  Worst-case scenario, it would be a photo finish as to whether he got the job or not.  Here’s what I urged him to do:

  • Write up a three-to-five-year business plan with strategies and tactics describing how he intended to implement the plan.
  • Go back and interview the school’s last five athletic directors or however many are alive.  Ask them, if they had to do it all over again, what would they do differently?
  • Lay out a fund-raising program, because most athletic programs are financially under siege.
  • Get a list of search committee members and Google each of them, as well as do your own personal research through your network.
  • Travel incognito to the university and walk the campus and talk to students about what they are looking for in their athletic director.
  • Discreetly contact the conference commissioner and inhale any feedback you can get.

Of course, my friend got the job, and it was the start of a phenomenal career.  Each successive step was built on doing the same sort of preparation better and better each time.  The point of the process is this:  If you really want a job, there is no such thing as a cold call. (In Take the Cold Out of Cold Calling, Sam Richter suggests how to develop this idea in the chapter titled “Bytes.”)  If you do your homework, you should be able to anticipate every tough interview question thrown at you.  If you want to convince people you are the perfect fit for a job, you have to persuade them you know what it takes to do the specific job that needs to be done.

Mackay’s Moral: You’ll never pass the test without doing the homework.

Find more job search secrets no one else will tell you in my book “Use Your Head To Get Your Foot In The Door”

About the author Harvey Mackay

Seven-time, New York Times best-selling author of "Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive," with two books among the top 15 inspirational business books of all time, according to the New York Times. He is one of America’s most popular and entertaining business speakers, and currently serves as Chairman at the MackayMitchell Envelope Company, one of the nation’s major envelope manufacturers, producing 25 million envelopes a day.

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