This is a guest post author Julia Ivy, PhD

With unemployment levels at a 50-year low, the reduced numbers of job seekers are making it more difficult for companies to find qualified job applicants. Firms face intense competition in building a talented and dependable workforce.

But instead of relying on time-intensive recruitment practices that involve screening massive amounts of generic résumés and conducting endless interviews, today’s companies can combine selectivity with a proactive approach to attract talent that matches their vision and culture. Through a well-defined case consulting initiative, companies connect with candidates on a personal and professional level and at the same time derive value from candidates’ work.

Using a method coined BE-EDGE, college graduates or career changers targeting the company for employment are invited to engage in advising on a company challenge before they’re considered for employment. The company is therefore able to attract proactive candidates they believe may be a good fit.

BE-EDGE is the mechanism through which candidates enhance their “Boutique Employability” (the “BE” in BE-EDGE) within a company by following four E-D-G-E steps:

E – Elucidate their professional core. At this stage, candidates submit their applications to the company’s call for a case competition, and communicate their focus, aspirations, and a scope of projects they believe they would best fit.

D – Develop trust with key staff within their targeted company. Candidates develop a company case and have a chance for peer conversations with key people. They immerse themselves in information concerning the company story and the challenge they’re engaging in with the company.

G – Generate value by solving a challenge. Candidates use their built-in skill set and the information they collect for the case to offer a solution for the company’s challenge. 

E – Excite market and industry insiders. Finally, candidates demonstrate a match between their own focus and problem-solving skill set and the company’s vision and culture.


The step-by-step approach allows candidates to make their case to shape their space within the company.

For example, hiring managers invite a candidate to delve into the company’s history, vision, challenges and broader issues within the industry. Within this context, the candidate assumes the role of a case analyst and problem solver for a challenge related to his or her prospective position — a challenge well suited to the person’s Boutique Employability.

The consultancy case provides an instrument that connects the employer with a prospective employee, giving them a vehicle through which to build a relationship while generating value for both the company and the candidate.

For candidates, the BE-EDGE approach helps them apply and display their multidimensional qualifications, as well as potentially generate a powerful portfolio piece — and a possible job offer. For the hiring manager, the time that would normally be spent interviewing applicants can instead be directed at providing background and direction on a real-life challenge the candidate will help to address. And for business owners, the retargets that are poured into traditional recruitment efforts can instead be directed toward finding and awarding proactive candidates that invest their energy into the company case.

Other company benefits include:

1. Introducing the applicant to the company vision. Through the  consulting case, candidates will become familiar with the company’s products and services, markets, and pertinent company information. At the same time, they’ll have opportunities to interact with key staff as they assemble and then present their case analysis.

2. Pre-screen candidates to their “fit” in the company. Allowing candidates access to departmental staff as they research their challenge puts both parties in a position to learn each others’ work ethic, approachability, communication skills and other qualities that pertain to compatibility in a work environment.

3. Establish candidates’ ability to generate value. The consultancy case allows hiring managers a chance to evaluate whether candidates are truly qualified and have sufficient expertise to contribute. Based on the candidates’ analysis of the challenge and proposed solution, managers are able to discern whether the interpretation of the issue accurate, the recommendations are viable, the action steps are realistic and the work is of a professional caliber.

4. Provide the company with a solution to a real challenge. Through the fresh eyes of an outsider who has a vested interest in delivering a well-researched, useful and insightful case study to a company targeted for employment, the job candidates provide problem-solving ideas designed for implementation. By allowing candidates to interact with real company challeneges and propose well-researched solutions, companies can uncover new ways to overcome a puzzling challenge.


The BE-EDGE method maximizes the time that hiring managers must invest to cull out multidimensional and proactive talent. By recruiting candidates to generate a tangible example of their ability to address real company challenges, they prescreen them for their compatibility, problem-solving capability and potential to generate value for the company.


About the Guest Post Author:

Julia Ivy, PhD Psych, PhD Mgmt, is a strategy and international business executive professor and faculty director at Northeastern University. In addition to her academic work, she acts as an executive coach for those facing the “What’s next?” challenge. Her new book is Crafting Your Edge for Today’s Job Market: Using the BE-EDGE Method for Consulting Cases and Capstone Projects (Emerald Publishing, Oct. 7, 2019). Learn more at