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Monday, 23 June 2014

The Power of Potential

This blog has the potential to be quite valuable.

Following up on the last post about emotional intelligence, today we look at another factor that has been influencing how hiring decisions are being made - the importance of "potential."

In a recent article in the Harvard Business Review, an international executive recruiter Claudio Ferdandez-Araoz, proclaimed that potential is now "the most important predictor of success at all levels."

Those with the "ability to adapt and grow into increasingly complex roles and environments" display potential. What constitutes potential? Motivation, curiosity, insight, engagement, and determination.

Ferdandez-Araoz suggests that the best way to demonstrate your potential is through stories. Detailed stories. As recruiters, we need to ask for thorough backgrounds and references, and candidates need to consider their experiences in order to offer detailed and thoughtful stories that demonstrate the five factors mentioned above.

In contrast to emotional intelligence tests, the pursuit of potential is very much grounded in past behavior, despite its innate concern with the future.

Why should we be concerned about potential? For companies and individuals, potential is going to be an important factor for continued success. Ferdandez-Araoz cites three factors that have significantly impacted employment: globalization, demographics, and pipeline.

With increased globalization has come increased demand for talent around the world. Corporate headquarters, and thereby talent, are no longer concentrated in select countries or cities, but spread across the world. Demographically, the effects of baby boomers are finally being felt. There are more people in management positions retiring than there are young people ready to replace them. Finally, pipeline: there's nothing in it. Companies have done an inadequate job of training and preparing future leaders. As Ferdandez-Araoz states, "combine all those factors, and you get a war for talent." The result is that demand is high, and supply is low.

Potential is the solution for both sides. Looking for the potential in candidates, rather than solely focusing on hard skills and specific experience will allow companies to discover opportunity in people they may have missed in the past. For candidates, mining your potential is how you will distinguish yourself. Think about what motivates you, what makes you curious, what excites you, and what you're passionate about in order to demonstrate potential beyond your resume.


Thursday, 19 June 2014

The Rise of Emotional Intelligence Testing

How do you perceive emotion? How well are you able to use your emotions to communicate? Do you understand your emotions, and ultimately are you able to manage your feelings and the feelings of others?

Pretty deep questions, and probably not ones you consider frequently, however these are the basic four branches of emotional intelligence testing, a measure that is gaining popularity in the hiring process.  So popular in fact, some have wondered aloud (The Wharton School) if resumes are “passé.” As a recruiting firm, resumes are a major part of our daily operations, and integral to our search process -but we also conduct interviews.

Wharton cites the Society for Human Resource Management that “nearly 20% of organizations use personality or emotional intelligence tests in hiring or employee promotion.” Why? Behavioral fit. Companies are attempting to measure your ability to “fit in” with the culture of the organization. You may have the experience, skills, and education for the job, but your emotional intelligence may signify that your habits and personality fundamentally differ from those of the company. Or you’re not ready for that promotion….

This might be sounding a little negative. Remember it can go the other way too. What may look like an odd fit on paper could stand out as a perfect match after emotional intelligence testing. You may not have the exact qualifications, but an ability to adapt and grow might shine through in your emotional intelligence analysis.

I remember taking an emotional intelligence test for a retail position. It felt heavy handed for the relative responsibility and skill set required for the job. It was also very long, repetitive, and ultimately meaningless for me as a candidate. It was an interesting experience in retrospect however. I can see how they were trying to nail down how I would react to certain situations, people, and stressors.  However, I don’t believe it was a valuable analysis of my fitness for the job. I have been on many interviews, and the most common technique I have experienced has been behavioral based interviews: “describe instances in the past where you…” Travis Bradberry, a consultant and expert in emotional intelligence, argues that “the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.” This is the key difference, how I have actually behaved in the past versus how I might behave in the future. Emotional testing is hypothetical and allows a candidate to pick what they think is the best answer. Behavioral interviews, especially when the candidate is asked to describe in high detail past events, potentially lends itself to greater honesty.

So how do you approach this double edged sword? Be yourself. It might sound cliché, but ultimately fit is important and benefits both parties.  

Resumes are here to stay a little longer.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Good People, Bad Resumes

Unfortunately, this is a more common phenomenon than it should be – excellent candidates with terrible resumes. Most sources will tell you that an employer spends an average of 10 to 20 seconds reviewing your resume. That’s not a lot of time to make an impression, which means making a good one is essential.

Edit, edit, edit.
A colleague turned to me recently to tell me a candidate’s cover letter was both years out of date, and addressed the wrong position. Now while this is a very specific example, the point is the impression had been made. Resumes stand in your place; they need to be clean, prepared, and tailored appropriately for the job. If a resume is hard to read, it won’t be read.  And this is the point; the person standing behind that terrible resume could be the perfect candidate.

The problem is, employers and recruiters don’t want to (and shouldn’t have to) decipher your resume. Having to dig for relevant experience, determine what exactly you did at your jobs, and searching for educational details is frustrating and eats away your 10 to 20 seconds.

So, what are the key aspects of a good resume?

  • Organized – clear and distinct sections that flow logically
  • Targeted – skills and experience should match the job
  • Consistent – formatting (fonts, sizing, margins) should be consistent throughout the resume  
  • Concise – describe skills and experience in an active voice, but also get to the point
  • Accurate – up to date and truthful
  • Grammatically correct – shows you took the time to proof read

Obviously there isn’t one right way to write a resume, and being unique is good. Today there is a wealth of resources available for creating a polished resume and cover letter. Online, the career services sections of university and college websites are great places to start, and often offer resume tips and guides. In addition, many cities have employment service centers that can offer assistance. Finally, have a friend or family member take a look.

Essentially, this is a two way street. Employers will spend time on you, if you spend the time on them. Now everybody go and review your resumes.