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Kill The Resume

I can’t possibly say how much I dig this article. Ben Popper at Business Insider advises companies Want To Hire Smart? Ditch The Resumes. Regardless of whether you’re in the middle of a job search or gainfully employed, I think the ideas highlighted in the article will resonate with you.

For me, resumes are like elevator pitches. Excellent at helping job seekers fine-tune their professional marketing focus but utterly worthless when it comes to adequately communicating overall strengths and value. And for HR pros and hiring managers, the resume becomes a lazy way out of understanding what a candidate can do for the organization. The reason is that a resume is all about past history and nothing about the present and future. And God forbid you want to move toward a different type of job or enter a different industry; that damn resume virtually locks you out of those options.

As Ben ends the article:

In an age of disruptive business models, a resume doesn’t say much. The smart hire puts the candidates ideas first, then looks to see how they network and collaborate. It’s about seeing what someone can go, not where they’ve already been.

Of course, this means that both company and candidate have to dance to the same tune. A few courageous business execs are out there rewriting how they find great talent. What’s your organization doing to kill the resume and start uncovering an individual’s actual value, their strengths that transcend a piece of paper?

photo credit: brymo (via flickr)

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Open Letter to Fellow Career Zigzaggers

Okay, here I go…out on the proverbial limb. For a while, I’ve been listening to a very persuasive voice within me that said, “Chris, you’re a marketer and that’s all you should be doing. Now go out and find marketing-related jobs.” Want to know something strange? I’m not really a marketer. Sure, I have a solid grounding in the profession and even have some experience doing it. However, In the end, I’m a mutt, a dabbler, a generalist. I’ve successfully tackled positions like customer service, sales, data processing, web design, and yes, marketing. I’ve worked in non-profits and for-profits. I’ve even tried launching my own businesses a couple of times.

My professional trajectory hasn’t been a straight line…more like a zigzag. This is both good and bad. The good? I possess a wealth of different experiences, skillsets, and knowledge. This diversity allows me to uncover patterns that many “straight line” professionals likely can’t see. The bad? Most organizations don’t value this eclectic background so much. They want straight-liners and set their hiring practices up to reward them.

So for many of us career zigzaggers, vocational searchers, and Renaissance Souls we tend to feel neglected and discarded and wonder what the hell we ever did wrong to find ourselves in such a world. We then do something that truly dishonors our selves and undermines our value: we try to emulate the straight-liner. We interview and market ourselves like the straight-liners, all the while downplaying our own richness, our own unique qualities. We try to cram our polygon peg into the square hole and then wonder why we’re so dumb because it doesn’t fit.

Does this sound familiar to you? If so, know you’re not alone. It’s time to acknowledge that we have tremendous value to give. It’s time to be bold and proudly profess our unique abilities. We’re quick learning, intensely creative, spectacularly curious professionals (to name just a few attributes). So here’s my call to action: Instead of hiding our light under a bushel basket, let’s not just uncover it – let’s throw kerosene on it and start a wildfire. Even if they don’t know it yet, employers need us. Business today is moving way too fast for the straight-liners and the specialists to keep up. Organizations truly need our broad skillsets, diversity of experiences, and ability to learn quickly.

If you find yourself identifying with the zigzagger ideal, come and share your experiences. What are your frustrations? Any tips for how you’ve overcome challenges and claimed your value?

Now go out there and set your fire today.

photo credit: marcelgermain (via Flickr)

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Have You Already Carved Your Hiring Candidates From Stone?

Turn me to stone
Do anything you want with me
Cover my eyes
There’s nothing more they need to see
Turn me to stone
Before there’s nothing left of me
Make me a rock
And not what I appear to be
Turn me to stone
Turn me to stone
Stereotomy – The Alan Parsons Project

Once upon a time I was a hiring manager, and perhaps if fate has its way again, I’ll be in a position with this type of responsibility again soon. But for now, I’m on the other side of the desk. After reviewing some recent hires by prominent organizations, a rather interesting pattern emerged: how similar the hires are to each other…and to the hiring manager.

Hiring people like us is safe. It means we don’t have to challenge our own comfort zones. We’re getting people who fit a mold that we’ve already defined as “successful.” But I’ll argue these reasons are built on bad assumptions, made worse by the constant pressures of change and innovation. Hiring people who fit a highly pre-defined mold is a sure path toward stagnation. If you’re in a hiring position, here are a few questions to consider:

  • If you hire people with a similar background as you, do you think you’ll be getting the breadth of expertise and thinking necessary for your team’s and organization’s success?
  • If you hire people who you think are going to usually agree with you, are going to get divergent outlooks to fill in your own and your team’s blind spots?
  • If you hire people just like you, are you sure you know why?

I’ve been there and intimately know the challenges of making the best hires possible. Just be mindful of why you’re hiring a particular skillset or background. Is it to mimic your own identity and preferred beliefs of past success? Or is it to add greater depth and diversity of ideas to your team and organization?

photo credit: tsuda (via Flickr)

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Do You Know A Rock Star When You See One?

As I muddle my way back into blogging shape, Sam Decker gives me a fantastic way to return. Today, he writes about what makes the 5 Stars of a “Rockstar” Employee. If you’re a hiring manager, you’ll want to read this because with each star Sam offers interview ideas for determining whether the guy or gal you’re talking to exemplifies the kinds of qualities that make organizations remarkable. And if you’re on the interviewee side, take some ideas from Sam that will help you win that next great gig. If you can demonstrate strong examples of initiative, integrity, execution, strategic agility, and communication, you’ll be well on your way to rockstar status no matter where you go.

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You’re Going To Need A Bigger Hammer For The Square Peg

Over at Mission Minded Management, Michelle Malay Carter asks whether hiring star performers can be a mistake. At the heart of the question is the danger of hiring someone who is overqualified per the job role (as well as underqualified):

Our data shows one in five people is in a role that does not tap their full capacity, i.e. they’ve been overhired in a role. In contrast, only 15% are slotted in roles that they simply do not have the mental bandwidth to handle. So our data shows that overhiring is a larger problem than underhiring. Either shoots engagement in the foot.

When I was a hiring manager, the notion of job fit was important. The last thing I wanted to do was bring in someone who had a more advanced skillset than was necessary for the work defined by the carefully crafted job description. Isn’t that how we’re all trained by HR when we interview candidates? You find square pegs for square holes. Well, what if that approach, that system is what’s broken?

A square hole may turn out to be a teeny tiny box.
If you craft a job description too tightly, how can you possibly hope for an employee to be able to move freely about? I’ve seen job descriptions that honestly ought to be called job “prescriptions.” No need to worry about a manager micromanaging an employee – the job role has it’s own built-in mechanisms to do it for them.

What you can do as a manager…Focus on setting the position’s big picture. Start with wide boundaries and let your employees co-create the work details along with you.

A square hole may need to be a round hole at times.
Be careful what you wish for. You might want an employee who meets the specific criteria laid out in the job description. Ahhh…but then the job needs to shift to meet new organizational goals. You now have a potential misfit to contend with.

What you can do as a manager…Think broadly and openly when weighing your candidates. Consider their aptitude for being flexible when work needs to shift. Consider altering the job description to better fit a candidate who offers some intriguing upsides to the organization or brings new strengths to your team.

Square pegs can become round pegs over time.
What? People learn and change? Yes, Mr. Organization it’s true. That individual who you hired last year and was perfect for the role has now exceeded the expectations and competencies of the job description. So, now what do you do? Ignore it and hope they won’t notice? Promote him or her? Start making subtle hints about how exciting working at that new business down the street might be?

What you can do as a manager…Learn about what other talents your employees bring to the party. Could be the individual sitting right outside your office has a skillset that could lead to a breakthrough in how your team does things. Ask what types of things your folks like to learn. Just don’t assume that your square pegs are always going to be square.

Regardless of what this all may sound like, I’m not knocking the ‘concept’ behind work roles. Each employee must know what their core work is and what’s expected of them. Boundaries are essential to engagement. But the art of employee engagement is knowing how to build constructive boundaries that tap into each person’s unique qualities and help them bring them into their work. A round peg in a square hole may be complaining because he or she wants the freedom to bring more of themselves to the organization. And it’s to the organization’s detriment not to find out how to meet this desire.

(And if you’re interested in learning more behind Michelle’s post which inspired this one, head over to Mission Minded Management…the thought and care she uses in thinking about these issues never fails to amaze me.)

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Sunday Silliness: How To Fail A Job Interview

Sometimes you just know a job isn’t the right fit even before you meet for an interview. Why take chances that they’ll actually make you an offer? This video clip gives some helpful tips to ensure that there won’t be a second interview.

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