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How to Land the Leadership Job of Your Dreams

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We're competing with more, and more qualified, candidates for each available job. Learn a few tips for making yourself stand out in the crowd from The Truth About Getting the Best From People author Martha Finney.

With the jobs picture swinging away from your favor, we know that there are more qualified and talented people competing for fewer jobs. So once you and your fellow candidates are matched for skills and number of years of experience, you have to find other ways to set yourself apart and shine brighter than your competition. You can compete by being the cheapest to hire—but that would be a bummer. (And who wants to work for a cheapskate company anyway?)

Here's a better way to stand out and get paid what you deserve: Show your interviewer that you have the heart and smarts to hire, inspire, lead and keep great people...in a way that's consistent with the company's culture. Think of it as a management version of plug-and-play.

Employee engagement and company values and culture are still important to corporate life—at least to the companies that are good enough for you. Regardless of what the economy is doing, first-rate companies haven't forgotten that creating and sustaining an engaged workforce continues to be the secret to their competitive edge. And they want managers who will help them make that happen.

And for good reason. Top-drawer employees throughout the ranks are expensive to hire. They're expensive to lose, and even more expensive to replace. Passionate people volunteer their discretionary efforts and genius above and beyond the call of duty. They say good things about their company and the company's products. They recommend their company as a great place to work. And they're more likely to stick around, even if someone else offers them brand, spanking new jobs, even at better pay.

Who makes these golden employees feel all these warm and fuzzy feelings? Why, their bosses do, of course. And that would mean you. You've probably heard this principle before: People don't quit their companies, they quit their bosses. (Which could be a reason why you are on the job market yourself, come to think of it.) Top-notch employers have been recognizing this fact for years now, which is why millions of dollars are spent every year measuring an employee's engagement factor on the job. The results of these surveys are usually interpreted mainly as, “Okay, how's the boss treating you?” If you're the boss, and you've been treating your people shabbily, it's going to show up as low engagement scores. If you have been treating your people brilliantly, that's going to show up as high engagement scores for you as well. And you should be able to leverage that happy track record in your own search for a new job.

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