Well, it’s NFL playoff season and while it’s a bit cliché, sports really are a good metaphor for life and career. It’s not enough to be talented and it’s not enough to just want something. Now, I’m going to come clean here and proclaim myself a Green Bay Packers fan. I like other teams but as a native New Yorker I’ve seen teams leave my city and that’s something that the Packers won’t do. And it’s such an underdog of a small market compared with the rest of the league.
But aside from that, they have one of the top rookies in the league, Linebacker Clay Matthews who was a walk-on at USC and has maximized his talents with tons of hard work. Matthews has had a huge positive impact on his team and leads the Packers defense with 10 sacks. Contrast this with Raiders Quarterback Jamarcus Russell who was the top pick in his draft and has tons of talent but – well it seems has a work ethic that’s questionable at best which goes a long way to explaining the splinters in his butt from riding the bench and his early vacation.
So you might ask, how does this relate to recruiting, career and job searches?
I had a question from a reader who asked me to write about recent graduates as they often need some guidance. Now, some will be graduating from highly acclaimed programs and others will be graduating from small, unknown schools or training programs. As a recruiter, we can look at things on a resume and sure, pedigree will be something that you have to take into account – especially since most hiring managers will have a bias towards or away from certain schools.
But it’s not just what you’ve learned that’s important to a recruiter and the recruiter ideally will be looking for how a candidate is trying to apply what he’s learned. There’s a difference between knowledge and wisdom or in this case I like to say “savvy.”
I can’t tell you how often a hiring manager got a resume and was totally blown away by the pedigree listed but ended up hiring a person who just showed more passion and drive. And we’ve all had managers refuse to give a person without a pedigree a chance and live to regret it.
As a recruiter, it’s important for me to present the best candidates for the job and try to guide the decision as a consultant – not just throw resumes at my hiring manager. It’s vital for us to look beyond the pedigree or lack of pedigree and look at drive and character and how try to forecast how the candidate will perform in the role.
I would suggest recruiters, hiring managers and candidates discuss what the expectations each have for the job – especially on a 30, 60, 90 day and first year goals. It’s equally important for the candidate to take the initiative if she’s not asked this question. It will speak well of your interviewing skills.
So, a last word on character. There will of course be very successful people who lack character and I like to use the definition that character is something you do when no one is watching. In the long run or possibly the short run too, character will make a huge difference in how someone will perform. Here’s another famous football analogy.
Everyone knows Payton Manning, the quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts. When he was drafted, there was a big choice to be made between Manning and Ryan Leaf. Leaf was seen as possibly being even better than Manning. Now those of use who live in the San Diego area are very familiar with this story since San Diego decided to take Leaf in possibly the biggest draft disaster of all time.
When asked why they chose Manning, the Colts say that when they interviewed him, they asked him what he would do after he signed his big contract. He said something to the effect of bank the money and get into the film room to start studying the system. Leaf said he’d take his buddies to Las Vegas.
Needless to say, one has been successful and one was a disaster. Leaf was recently charged with burglary.
So it’s important to remember to cover all three of those traits in an interview because otherwise we’ll be getting good candidates but not great ones.
Remember, your skills are your job security.