For the past couple of decades, I have engaged in conversations with hundreds of individuals who were each seeking the next venture in their life. Most were seeking advice or help as they contemplated the next steps in their careers, personal businesses, and life journeys. These conversations have included executives, managers, MBA candidates, and even pastors of churches. Each conversation has been different, but each person was in a search to find a good fit for themselves, their team, or organization.
Some were just beginning their search. Others had been actively engaged in their hunt for many months. While others were just thinking about starting their search. Many were responding to advertised openings or requests for proposals. Others were networking to uncover opportunities through friends and associates. Some fired out volumes of resumes and marketing materials while others carefully analyzed the market place and targeted specific organizations and roles.
Some found and closed on opportunities quickly while others chased after prospects for months on end. Proposals, applications, and voice messages without response left many discouraged and looking for help.
A few of them had engaged coaches, advisors, and consultants to help them with their search. Some spent time in self-reflection and took the opportunity to examine where their journey had taken them. All of them were attempting to look down the path into the future.
When they had the opportunity to engage in an interview with someone seeking to fill a position, they quickly learned that several questions dominated the conversation: What do you know and what have you done? What experiences have you had? What do you know about what we do? How would you solve our problem?
Rarely did the interviewer seek to understand the uniqueness of the individual. What motivated them? What were their core values? What were they passionate about?
The conversations with the interviewer were about the knowledge and skill requirements of the role that needed to be filled. And when the interviews were over, those who fit the skills and knowledge requirements best were finalists.
And They Come Back
Far too often I renewed my conversations after a few months or a couple of years, when these same individuals called to schedule a cup of coffee to “catch up” which was usually the code words for “It didn’t work out and I’m looking for help.” I felt like Dr. Ducky Mallard on NCIS as we autopsied each situation seeking clues as to what had happened. Sometimes the causes were clear and acknowledged by the individual. Other times, it was a dialog of blame. And far too often this examiner’s report concluded it was simply a bad fit from day one.
Over the years, I have used several tools to help guide these conversations to understand and help individuals find a “right fit” in their next role. This journey of research and study led me to conclude that a good fit went far beyond having the knowledge and skills required to do the job. Each person is unique in their combination of talents, passions, and values. Yet far too often this uniqueness was never explored during the courting process or after the individual began their new role.
In the autopsy examination process, we learned that had this uniqueness been understood and engaged, a far different outcome would have occurred. The individual probably would have survived in their role and, in many cases, could have thrived to the benefit of all involved.
Where Do I Start?
I always advise those searching for opportunities to “become the best version of themselves” to start by taking Gallup’s StrengthsFinder assessment and sitting down with a coach to explore and understand their uniqueness.
This should lead to the development of communications (i.e. resumes, elevator pitches, interview tips, etc.) that will allow the individual to communicate their uniqueness in a wide range of settings whether looking for new position or fitting into a team focused on a shared purpose.
For information about Gallup’s StrengthsFinder assessment (click here).