Three people. Three openings. Three applicants. I’ve changed the names but not the shoes. If they fit, wear them.
Clara, you’re perfectly put together. Hair, nails, makeup, outfit, shoes: perfect, perfect, perfect. There’s just one thing you’ve missed. You forgot to connect your personality to your smile and warmth to your eyes. There’s no you in there.
Caleb, I agree, you do look good. Stop smiling for just a second. You’re missing something. No, there’s nothing stuck between your teeth. It’s an opinion, Caleb. That’s what you’re missing. Do you have an opinion about anything other than what to wear, eat, or work out? Caleb, stop looking in the mirror ... Caleb! I’m talking to you.
Carol, your grades are fantastic. All A’s. And so many trophies! You’ve received first place in everything. That’s amazing. You certainly are a competitor. In fact, you are so competitive you do whatever it takes to win. Whatever it takes. Wow, Carol. That’s scary. You did that? To her? And to him? Just to win?
Three people have taken their strengths and maximized them to the point of personal undoing. Clara has put her money in her makeup, and seems unaware that she is, or ought to be, more than how she appears.
Caleb has defined his life by the number of teeth he’s capped, proteins he’s digested and crunches he’s completed. Ask him a question about newsworthy events on the international, national or local scene and his eyes glaze over.
Carol is a competitor who thrives more on the win than the cause, the get than the goal. She’s driven to succeed and disregards boundaries that define what’s allowed and what’s not. She might be a catch for companies who put earnings before ethics but others will take a pass.
What all three share, without intention, is a “me” mindset. That’s not all bad. It’s important to have a clear idea of what one values. That insight informs us of the people, places, and organizations we prefer to move toward. If we overdo “me” at the expense of “we,” we become self- indulgent, stifling our social and professional development, our curiosity, resourcefulness and empathy. We close ourselves to constructive feedback and development.
What has all this to do with your job search and your career advancement?
Employers, without regard to the size, scope, or complexity of their business, want employees who make an immediate contribution, fit in, step up, and follow through, for the good of the company and the end-users they serve. They look for self-starting, goal focused team players and team leaders.
They want employees who combine big picture thinking with can do behaviors, doing more than less, efficiently. They want employees willing to take calculated risks for a payoff that is as personally developmental as it is mutually beneficial. Yes, they want a lot. Your job is to meet them half way.
If your motivation is matched by their commitments to you, you’ll complete the journey together.