I place sales people, marketing professionals, VPs and folks on just about every level in the IT products and services arena. Last week I read some advice, promoted by an authority, or presumed one about getting a job. This guy was discussing the situation of when you’re asked to give advice or provide a 30-60-90 day plan, or a marketing plan or any kind of business plan during the interviewing process. He was recommending that the candidate should refuse to do it. His claim was that you don’t want other people to steal your ideas and use them. He was advising candidates to explain to prospective employers that their advice was proprietary to them and, if they wish to get the candidate’s advice they should hire the candidate. This guy’s comment was that there is no reason a candidate should Give to a prospective employer their business solutions and their “secret sauce.”
I’ve written about this before, but there’s so much junk out there on the Internet written by people who never found anybody a job. There are a lot of these career advisors out there. Many of them post all kinds of awards on their websites and I guess that’s okay. But my rough estimate is that 30% of what they tell people is just junk.
Here is the answer. When someone asks you to provide any kind of 30-60-90 day plan, or any kind of detailed solution to their problem… do it! First of all, you don’t really have much choice. If you take this career coaches advice and tell people that you won’t do it, who will promptly be eliminated. Don’t think that you, or anyone, has that much political capital to be able to refuse doing this and still be considered as a candidate. You gotta bet they have three or four other candidates who will accommodate their wishes in a heartbeat.
The second, and probably just as important reason is that even if they have your brilliant solution to their problem doesn’t mean that they could execute on it. Here’s the analogy. Everyone in basketball knows the theory of the triangle offense that was made so popular by the Los Angeles Lakers. Most every high school player knows it. But just because you know the theory doesn’t mean you can execute it. Unless you have a Kobe Bryant on your team as well as a few others of the same caliber, knowing the theory and executing it well are really two different things.
So, don’t get all upset and agonize over being asked for your ideas or your solutions. Give a lot of thought to the answer and realize that you are going to be judged by it. Don’t spend any time or effort agonizing over whether it’s right or not to ask it and focus on a quality answer.