Archive for February, 2013

Just Different

February 26, 2013

In assessing a career opportunity, there are seemingly infinite attributes to consider.  The same point can be made for assessing candidates.  And just as no two jobs are the same, no two candidates are cut from the same cloth.

With this in mind, it strikes me as odd when a candidate approaches me with a list of must-haves for their next career move, of which the level of specificity immediately rules out every opening.  Essentially, they’re writing the script to their own fantasy movie.  Naturally though, our lives are not lived in a vacuum.  We are all interrelated and inter-reliant.  Thus, despite our best efforts, the movie scripts to our lives are perpetually penned my multiple authors.  After all, as John Lennon once said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

Invariably, the candidates who can articulate their career preferences yet maintain an open-minded stance are more likely to enjoy a successful and robust career advancement track.  Along with possessing the self-awareness needed to know both their strengths and vulnerabilities, these individuals have an innate understanding of our dynamic, ever-changing business world.  They have the wherewithal to put aside their biases and try a new career opportunity on for size, giving it full and fair consideration.  In many cases, compared to a given candidate’s preferences, career opportunities are not better or worse – just different.

Hiring managers are best served to invoke the same level of open-mindedness.  It amazes me how often hiring managers dismiss candidates simply because these prospective employees can’t be neatly fit into a box.  There are so many non-traditional candidates out there who bring exceptional intellect, attitude, and multiple skills to the table.  Just because these individuals didn’t follow a typical career path or possess specific domain experience, they are summarily cast away without being given a chance.

As a VP Sales, I made a good living hiring non-traditional candidates because I was focused more on the intangibles (e.g., personal drive, ability to overcome adversity, proclivity for picking up multiple skills, passion, coachability, and positive mental attitude).  And let’s be honest with ourselves.  The arrival of our current career track came via a circuitous path.  I never met a single person in college who said, “I’m studying to go into Sales.”  Yet, look at all the accomplished sales professionals out there.

Ultimately, no one career opportunity or candidate is a perfectly written script.  There are pimples and warts to everything.  But along with those pimples and warts may be diamonds and pearls that initially didn’t cross our radar screens.  The only way to discover these seemingly hidden gems is to be open to considering them and taking the extra step to learn more.  We all need to resist the prevailing thought process ingrained in most all of us that different is bad.  Different is different.  And in many cases, that leads to innovation, fresh perspective, unyielding drive to prove, and success like you’ve never imagined.


Action items:

1.  Fantasy career moves and fantasy ideal candidates are akin to movie scripts.  They’re conceptualized in a vacuum without the influences and dynamics of the real world around them.  Discuss your preferences with a search professional or other trusted resources to help gain a reality check.

2.  Always keep an open mind on both career opportunities and prospective candidates.  You don’t want to close any doors until you see what’s behind them.

3.  Different is not better or worse.  Just different.