ABC premiered a new show, Shark Tank® last Fall, and it has become a hit! It airs on Friday nights and I promise you will love it!
If youre not familiar with the show, entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to a panel of venture capitalists hoping to receive start-up / additional funding to take their product or service to the next level. In exchange for an investment in the company, the investors gain an ownership percentage in the business.
The contestants must request a specific sum of money, present a description of the service or product, discuss the history of the business, provide actual or projected financial figures (current / projected sales, profit margins, costs, etc.) and a business plan, and detail how the Sharks money will be used.
The presentations are very interactive, with the Sharks asking tough and thoughtful questions during the pitch. If the business owner has a great idea that merits an investment, he / she will be awarded either all or part of the capital requested.
As I watch the show, there are times that I want to scream! Many of these individuals come to the table without thinking very clearly about their target market, potential demand for the product, what experience they bring to the business, and any successes they have achieved thus far. These people are often sent out the door with some pretty strong advice from the professional coach.
Then, there are the entrepreneurs that really have their stuff together. They present their idea and business plan brilliantly, exude passion and confidence, detail research theyve conducted, and have a clear picture of how their product meets a specific need or opens up a new niche market. I love watching these people! And, the Sharks are usually fighting over who is going to give the best deal and capital to the individual.
This show reminds me so much of how people prepare (or not prepare) for their job search! The parallels are uncanny. Like an entrepreneur pitching a product or service, you should be doing the exact same thing in your job search except the product being pitched is you!
Here are some words of wisdom if you want the Sharks (Hiring Managers) to buy into your product utilizing the premises of this show:
• Do your research. The successful entrepreneurs on this show have done their research, know who they are targeting, and determine their products value. As a job seeker, you need to take the same steps. Research the companies that will be a match for your specific strengths and skills, target them, and develop your value proposition that will help these companies achieve their goals.
• Develop your business plan. Just as business owners develop road maps for their product or service, detailing their skills and previous successes, you need to do the same thing. However, in the job search, your business plan is your resume. Convince the potential employer, on paper, why they should even call you in to give your pitch.
• Show the value of your product to the potential employer. As a job search candidate, you need to convey your value proposition to the employer. Figure out what makes you different and unique. Then, be prepared to show evidence of your continued success throughout your career that speaks to your personal brand.
• Be prepared to make a convincing, confident presentation about why your product should be chosen over all the other products. When the entrepreneurs make their pitch to the Sharks, the ones who come out on top and get the funding are always confident and well-prepared. They also provide examples of why their product is better than what is currently on the market. For your interview, prepare a dynamic presentation, and back up your value with facts, figures, and successes.
• Be ready to answer questions or address objections. Many times the Sharks will ask probing questions to determine whether the participants really know their products market and audience. Sometimes, they even ask about other markets where the product will be valuable. When you are interviewing, you need to be prepared to answer tough questions and determine what, if any, objections a potential employer may have about you. Further, you need to understand how your skills can be transferable to other areas of the company so you can show your versatility.
While most of us will never end up on the show, Shark Tank®, I would like to suggest you watch it as research for your job search. I am confident you will quickly discover how pitching a product / service on this show is the same as pitching yourself to a potential employer.