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Is branch management the right option for you?

National Mortgage Professional
Jun 11, 2007

Spying on the enemyJoe Cornocompetition, key phrases, job-hunting skills, respond to ads, early rumor detection system Sometimes we worry about competition to the point that it restricts growth and profit. What can we do to implement the best laid plans and thwart the competition? At little cost, you can develop a fantastic watchdog system. If you are worried about what the competition is doing, spy on them. One of my previous bosses had me, as the chief operations officer, read through industry-related help wanted ads. Every Sunday, I would read and select various positions that the competing companies were advertising in the major newspapers. The boss explained that most employers want to brag about themselves and what the company is planning. I would apply and interview, to listen to the goals and plans of these companies. I asked permission to take meticulous notes and requested that I also talk with a department head and a manager before deciding to take the position or not. Applying for a job became an art to me. If you would like hints as to how to put together an application that will get you an interview, here they are. There are five key elements to getting an interview from the initial application. 1. Lift key phrases from the job description and put the same words and phrases in your résumé content. Also, use the same words and phrases when filling out the company narrative portions of the application. 2. List your strong job skills early and frequently. In this way, employment software and personnel see your job skills in past and present positions. It creates a parallel team concept, as you use the same words and phrases. 3. Whenever the application requests the source about how you heard of the position, always put "company employee." Yes, it may be a fib, but this bumps your application ahead of "job listing." Your goal is to get the interview, so this prioritizes your application. 4. If you are applying by long distance or out-of-area, use a friend's or relative's address. In the worst case, you could rent an address from the post office or private address services. Be sure to change your résumé to match. 5. If you want attention, get in their faces or in their ears. If you find an ad that really interests you, stop the application process, pick up the phone and call them. Physically visit or talk to them before applying. This article is not about improving your job-hunting skills, yet job-hunting skills are important, because if you are going to respond to ads to spy, you need to capture the interview. My salary was always being adjusted, because I knew what my position was paying each and every year as a result. A shrinkage period makes it imperative to edge past the competition for more market share. We are currently hearing of mergers, sales and closures of industry competitors. Create an early rumor detection system by having key employees search the Internet on industry competitors. Check the Internet for industry rumors a couple hours a day and see if the company is removing job postings from its site. Drive by at 5:00 p.m. and see how full its parking lot remains. If it looks like everyone is running away from the pit of despair at 5:01 p.m., there may be a morale issue, and it could be time to cherry-pick some of the best talent away. By the way, watch your own parking lot. This could be an early warning of flagging morale, and you need to do something about it before you are cherry-picked by others. If you think your company is the best to work for, make sure that it is the best company to work for. Go to industry shows and conferences. Rather than finding the old reliable and trusted friends, start conversations up with your competitors. Make a deliberate misquote and hold to your poker face when they correct you. All of a sudden, these new relations are spewing their guts on their company technology, sales strategies and new areas that they intend to attack. As you allow these new friends to divulge so many things about themselves and their companies, reality hits you that your employees are just as loose-lipped at the evening socializing hour and during the conference that you paid for them to attend. If you are an employee, button up the lip. The information just a few of your trained employees get out of their new conference friends will fuel your marketing plan until the next conference. Now, beware of the "plants." You know, the ones who said after Katrina hit, "We are buying up dyke land and are going to develop beachfront communities." This is their purposeful misquote to get you to spill your guts. There are some high-tech devices available to help contain your own company secrets, and they are becoming evermore present in every industry. The cost is low, and you can monitor your own company for potential espionage. Intra-office monitoring of electronic conversations, such as instant messaging, will keep people from wasting company time, but also patrol what is being transferred. Protective devices to keep prohibited e-mailing and attachments from entering your network provide another shield of protection. However, employees feel violated and infringed upon if they are not informed. Let them know you need the security to prevent being ravaged by the competition. Place outside accessible Internet systems in break rooms for their personal use. Periodically, check the histories of the systems and see where and who the employees are communicating with. My best thoughts and concepts are not stored behind firewalls and systems that I can access from anywhere. My best of the best are stored on a system that is not connected to the outside world. Keep your company plans and strategies offline. This way, no one is capable of sneaking in your back door, unless they physically break into your company and steal the specific word processor. That is what cameras and alarms are for. If the content of this article, particularly how to reap sensitive information from a competitor, has you concerned, you may have already been a victim of corporate spying. Smarten up and get trained to protect your company treasures. Joe Corno is president of Utah-based We Be Consulting and Seminars. He may be reached at (801) 836-2077 or e-mail [email protected]
Published
Jun 11, 2007
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