Tag Archives: attitude

Lessons for the Job Seeker from our sporting icons

I am fascinated by the parallels between business and sport.  As sport itself has become big business the two have looked to take the best of each other in a relentless drive to get even better.  It made me think of what we can take from the very best in sport when looking at our own careers.   I am a huge fan of all sports and love to study the great icons, in particular what makes them tick.  At the very highest level the physical talent and capability amongst the very best is wafer thin.   The difference between winning and losing is mindset.

So how can say Tiger Woods (recent indiscretions aside), Michael Jordan, Muhammad Ali, Sir Steve Redgrave, Ellen MacArthur et al help us in the pursuit of career success?  Success means so many different things to people and is open so much to how we frame things individually.  However my sense is that there are a number of basic principles that if applied would go a long way to ensuring at least a high degree of career satisfaction.

Without exception all of the above pass Malcolm Gladwells 10,000 hours.  They are dedicated and have practised relentlessly on the fundamental basics required in each of their sports in order that they can be considered the best.  David Beckham was always last to leave the training pitch at Manchester United.  A great pal of mine watched Tiger Woods walk off the 18th Green at Wentworth straight in to the gym for a 90 minute work out before returning to the range to work on hitting some more balls. Michael Jordan shot 500 baskets every day of his professional career.  So without doubt dedication is a critical factor for success.

However dedication is nothing without the vision, the goal, the endgame.  You must be clear about what you want to achieve and you must have a compelling why.  The how is the easy bit, that’s all in the plan and execution.  Why is what will get you out of bed in the morning.

Get really clear on what you want.  What are you looking to achieve and why?  Then work on the how. What is it that you need to do to realise your goal.  Then its on to the practice court to shoot those 500 baskets.

My guess is that Jordan didn’t score every time, that he missed a few and this is how he learned.  He wasnt afraid to miss, he was prepared to try to keep trying in order that he could achieve the level of success that he wanted for himself.  The job search is the same.  Relentless commitment, daily dedication and a lot of missed baskets.  Roughly translated, that’s a lot of shoe leather, conversations, handshakes and coffee.  Some will reap quick rewards, many wont.  However this is the advantage of relentless commitment.  Each conversation you learn more, get clearer, more succinct about what you want and what you can offer.  Each application you get better, each rejection toughens you for the next time, each draft of the CV is better than the last, each interview is an experience from which you can learn and be better next time out.

Dont be afraid to miss.  If you do, dust yourself off, pick up another ball and shoot another basket, strike another free kick.  This isn’t about wanting to be Michael Jordan or David Beckham, this is about doing everything you can for yourself to realise whats right for you.

The job market is tough.  It’s very easy to sit in the warmth of the blogosphere and make smart observations about the relentless pursuit for the job you desire.  But that is what it is, relentless.  There is no such thing as a magic potion or quick fix, but over time you will be amazed just what can be achieved through relentless commitment to the realisation of your goal.

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Cause for optimism

Statistics can be interpreted as we would wish them to be read, in particular if the person commissioning the report has a vested interest in the outcome.  Cynicism aside (and I am something of a glass half full kind of person) I was encouraged by the optimism (albeit cautious) evidenced by a recent survey from CareerBuilder.co.uk.  For some time I have sensed that we have been in pre-election limbo whereby nothing at all seemed to be happening, not only in terms of hiring but generally in terms of business investment.   However the CareerBuilder survey suggests that an improving global economy has seen an unexpected upturn in the hiring plans of UK Private Sector employers.

By no means does this survey evidence a return to boom from bust.  39% of UK employers reported they plan to hire full-time workers in the next 12 months.  26% plan to add part-time workers whilst 21% expect to employ contract or temporary workers.  Another significant finding from the survey, despite unemployment at its highest level in over 14 years, 28% of companies surveyed reported having vacancies for which they cannot source suitably qualified talent.  62% believe there is a national skills shortage and experience tells us the gap between Employers needs and candidates skills is widening.  This can only be resolved by increasing investment in training and changing the recruitment decision away from experience to focus on attitude, the focus of many a posting on this blog.

So where are the jobs coming?  Unsurprisingly this survey highlights companies moving away from cost cutting to focus on those areas most closely associated with revenue growth first.  Typically Sales (46% of those surveyed who expressed an intent to hire expect to hire in sales in the next 12 months).  Next comes Customer Service, IT, Administration, Accounting and Marketing.

Employment is known to be a lagging indicator.  Unemployment will continue to rise even as the economy returns to growth.  Nobody is whooping and hollering over these numbers and I certainly doubt we will see anything other than at best a slow and steady climb out of the depths for employment in the private sector in the next 12 months.  The picture in the public sector remains uncertain, perhaps the only certainty is the inevitability of job cuts.  If private sector employers can open their eyes and rid themselves of industry bias, perhaps those leaving the public sector can fill that gap in the labour market the private sector knows exists?

For more information on this report visit http://www.CareerBuilder.co.uk

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Why is “attitude” to often overlooked in favour of experience when hiring?

We hire for experience and fire for attitude. Why not therefore make attitude the basis of our hiring decisions? Clearly experience is the one thing that we can give any candidate coming in to the business. Attitude is one thing that for sure we can’t give them.

All of us at some point are guilty of making experience the basis of our selection decisions. By this I refer typically to who the candidate has worked for or the sector they have been employed in. Whilst I understand the need for having easy ways of pre – screening CV’s I would go so far as to suggest this is lazy. Is it really risk averse to hire someone who understands our industry language, systems and processes, products or services and indeed customers without considering whether they truly fit with the values, culture, vision and strategy of the organisation? .

To make matters worse, us recruiters can be the worst exponents of putting job seekers in to convenient boxes, not least because of the increasingly key words search based recruitment environment in which many now live. This is exacerbated further with the increasing pressure on frontline recruiters in a tough climate to focus on the short term and generate fees based on perceptions of best fit and lowest risk in order that they keep their own jobs.

I genuinely believe employers lose out by making previous experience the basis of the hiring decision. Experience is the one thing as employers we can give the candidate; attitude is the one thing we can’t give them. How often as employers do we hire for experience and fire for attitude? Make attitude, chemistry, fit, the intangibles in the recruitment process the basis for hiring and invest heavily in training, development and employee engagement in order that your key staff are entirely aligned and equipped to meet the key objectives of your business. If you can achieve this the impact on the attraction and retention of people who can transform your business will be greatly enhanced. You may well be losing out on a potential superstar but not opening your minds to those from outside your sector.

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