Job Search Must-Haves: Matching UP in Three Critical Areas
Over the years, I have worked with many professionals hoping to advance their careers, and it has been extremely interesting to see the thought process behind “the job search”. Less tenured candidates are more likely to jump at the first opportunity that sounds mildly interesting and meets their financial expectations. As candidates “mature” (I use that term ever so affectionately), they start to consider other factors – or should anyway. They get more selective regarding the requirements that most directly impact their lives: geography; travel requirements; job demands; pay, etc….and less selective about the requirements that directly impact their careers – fit, happiness, success, and growth! Especially in the current economy (understandably so, but unfortunate none-the-less), I see more and more fear-based-job-searching going on….as well as fear-based I’m-staying-in-a-job-that-doesn’t-fit-but-at-least-I-have-a-job allegiance. Candidates are less selective, which fyi, forces client companies to be more selective. Candidates are foregoing some of the most important indicators of happiness, fulfillment, performance, and growth by accepting (or staying in) jobs that do not fit .
As a recruiter I have always looked for the match on three levels between candidate and client, and I would highly recommend you do the same. In order to move forward, there should be a match: 1. “on paper”; 2. with the hiring authority; and 3. with the culture of the company.
First, candidates should match “on paper” which means their basic skill set should match with the employers’ needs. The match “on paper” is a basic alignment between the job requirements and the candidates’ resume. For instance, if the employer is looking for a high-level, technical sales person, the candidate should match “on paper” by having strong sales experience, measurable technical ability/experience, and potentially a technical degree. This is the basic level of match - both candidates and client companies are guilty of ignoring the rest of the process because there is a fit “on paper”.
Secondly, there should be a match, or connection, with the “hiring authority”. This is especially important since statistically more employees leave their managers than their jobs. This connection is critical in the search process. We had an experience with a candidate illustrating this concept. The candidate was a perfect match on paper, however, did not “match” with the hiring authority – connection and respect were both missing, not to mention the hiring authority thought the candidate a little arrogant. Fortunately both client and candidate, having had experience working with us, knew better than to overlook this obvious lack of connection.
Finally, there needs to be a match in terms of culture – this is the big one in my opinion. Culture is something you sense when you walk the halls of an organization. Culture is huge. It represents that sense of belonging – it’s the connection you feel when you are going through the interview process….a meeting of the minds. If a company is grounded in tradition, and proves to be conservative, a prospective candidate and self-proclaimed avant-garde leader might be challenged to fit in, no matter how strong the “on paper match” or the connection with the hiring authority.
As a leadership coach, I see too many professionals who are struggling in their jobs because one of these three does not match. If you are in the thinking about making a career change, or in a position to have to conduct a job search, do yourself a favor…make sure you match on all three levels – you’ll be much happier, more productive, fulfilled, and successful in the long run!
p.s. I was inspired to write this blog since a good friend of mine recently resigned from a high-powered job having realized one of these elements was missing. Happiness and fulfillment were jeopardized. It took tremendous courage and self-awareness to make this decision – that kind of authenticity is awe-inspiring.