No More Drama
If you’ve read any of my other blog entries, you might be able to tell that I have a certain affinity for quoting hip-hop and RnB tracks. It’s not just because the songs are catchy but rather, the hooks and lyrics have greater meaning behind them. I’ve titled this week’s entry, “No More Drama” because when you’re embarking upon a new voyage, just like Mary J. Blige, you want to say no more drama to the world you’ve left behind! More importantly, when pitching yourself to companies and prospective employers, you have to realize that they don’t care about the drama of why you left. They want to know what you bring to the table now.
I recently learned this lesson when preparing for an interview with a company I was very interested in working for. In a role-play, my career coach asked me to pitch him on why I would be a good fit for his company. I immediately started my pitch by saying,
“For the last 6 ½ years, I’ve been a practicing commercial real estate attorney but I realized that the strengths I valued most—things like teamwork, having fun and being innovative, were not being validated on a daily basis. Nevertheless, over that time, I’ve managed projects, built relationships and strategically communicated with clients and counterparts, alike…with these skills, I can immediately be a value-add to your company because…”
Immediately thereafter, I was greeted with the following words of tough love.
“No one wants to hear the drama of why you don’t want to be a lawyer. Save it for the law blogs. There are tons of unhappy lawyers and the last thing you need to do when trying to convince someone that you’re different from your legal counterparts is to immediately remind them that you are one.”
Was it an ego blow to have the pitch I worked on for four hours in the bathroom mirror, so highly critiqued? You bet. Was the criticism constructive? Absolutely. I revised the pitch so not to use the word “lawyer” more than once. Additionally, I organized it with the following structure:
- After first thanking the CEO for his time, I told him the type of role I was interested in to immediately let him know why I was there.
- Next, I gave a brief overview of my educational and professional background, while only mentioning the word lawyer once. I then illustrated my core competencies by explaining how I managed sophisticated projects, solved problems, efficiently organized closings and strategically communicated with many different types of personalities. These are my core skills that I bring to the table.
- I ended the pitch by complimenting the company and asking to hear more about its growth and needs to make a natural transition into a conversation.
When pitching yourself, remember that less is more. People, especially very important people with limited time, also tend to have limited attention spans. You can go into further detail if asked specifically, but you will leave a better impression if you succinctly identify your core skill sets, while glossing over details. If someone wants more substance, they will ask.
So when on your next interview or pitch, check your drama at the door and bring your skills to the table. If you follow those words of advice, you’ll start out on solid ground.
Legally Free is a blogger for StrengthsInsight and an attorney at law in the midst of a career transition. As he makes his way through his transition, he will share insights into his journey of ditching his former legal career and rediscovering his love for innovative business, new and interesting people and having fun.
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