In working with professionals over the years focused on a “job search” it has been interesting to see the mind-set. Less tenured candidates are more likely to jump at the first opportunity that is mildly interesting and meeting financial expectations rather than focusing on the long-term happiness factors. As candidates “mature” (I use that term ever so affectionately), they begin to consider other important factors – or should anyway. They get more selective regarding 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! I have also seen my fair share of 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. Prospective candidates are often less selective, which FYI, forces client companies to be more selective. Candidates are foregoing important happiness/fulfillment/performance/growth factors by accepting (or staying in) jobs that do not fit .
There are three areas of “fit” between candidate and client (or should be anyway). There should be a match:
- “On Paper”
- With the hiring authority
- With the business culture
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 a candidate illustrating this concept perfectly. 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 tad arrogant. Fortunately both client and candidate, having had experience working with us, knew better than to overlook this obvious lack of connection, and both moved on.
Finally, there should be a culture match – this, in my opinion, incredibly important and often overlooked. Culture is huge. Culture is something you sense when you walk the halls of an organization, or check out the website. It represents a philosophy, and a 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 an executive coach, I see too many professionals struggle because one of these three does not match. If you are thinking about making a career change, or needing to conduct a job search, do yourself a favor…make sure you match on all three levels – the fit will make happier, more productive, fulfilled and successful in the long run!
p.s. I was inspired to write this blog by a good friend who recently resigned from a high-powered job realizing one of these elements was missing. Happiness and fulfillment were absent. It took tremendous courage and self-awareness to make this decision – that kind of authenticity and “leadership of self” is inspiring.