Myth two: A pitch has to be flashy. There are a lot of companies that are going back to basics. That mantra has become one of the hottest marketing mantras in the present downturn. This doesn’t mean accountants are now being recruited for their skills with an abacus or their ability to chisel Roman numerals onto a slate. In a back-to-basics organization, hard-nosed skeptics are generally rewarded. They find a way to make do with what the organization has. The back-to-basics types often overlap with the Turtle Wax sorts, but not always. Some back-to-basics advocates have no interest at all in working harder. They just don’t want things to cost more.

Myth three: A pitch shouldn’t be too narrow in its demands. Don’t assume that because your niche is larger, it’s better. In marketing, wouldn’t you rather be fighting for half of a 28 percent segment than one-seventh of a 44 percent one?

You may have lost your job as IT director for a mature $200-million company. An offer comes along for a position with the same title at a $100-million company with high growth prospects at half the salary. Many companies, as I point out elsewhere, are skeptical about people willing to take large salary cuts. However, if you really want the job, you can make a convincing case that you’re committed to signing up with a shooting star. After all, doesn’t the fact you’re on the pavement say it all about the risks of being attached to a butchered cash cow?

Myth four: A pitch has to be neat. Although most searches are much more sharply defined these days, not all of them have the sharpness of a surgeon’s scalpel. On the retail sales front, there are liquor stores in the toniest sections on Manhattan, Chicago’s Gold Coast, and Beverly Hills that do as much volume in Chateau Ripple, vintage Wednesday, as Chateau Lafite-Rothschild, vintage 1895.

Again, research is king. Some companies are wildly inconsistent in the way they are willing to spend money. The corporate offices could be lavish, but everyone may be expected to travel coach and lunchtime dining could mean a trip to the fast-food court. Learn the profile and so your best to squeeze yourself into the company suit.

Mackay’s Moral: You’ll never please everyone, but you only have to please a few people to get an offer.

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