In the world of business, you are defined by a few things typically. Some people look at the title you have behind your name. Some look at the years of experience you have. Some look at the degrees and plaques you have hanging on your wall. Some people even look at your company name, yet while all of these things are admirable… there is still more to you than the plaques you get and the years you have under your belt. You are more than what you can fit on that 8.5×11 you give to your potential employer, let’s talk.
I began thinking about this topic again as I am beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I am finishing up a 2 year training program with a company called Rexel. After this program I will be moving into a more permanent full time role in which I am currently interviewing for. While preparing for my interview I began to think about all of these things and thought about some of the intangibles that you can put down on a piece of paper. I wanted to outline them and truly show that it shouldn’t always come down to your resume.
First up is character. Character is about what you believe, how you were brought up, and your “moral” compass. It is often overlooked until it bites you in the rear. We can find this information out about a potential employee by talking with previous employers and the associates he/she had worked with in the past. People with similar beliefs and values allow teams to be more cohesive as well as trusting in a shorter period of time. You may see similar beliefs and values, but you don’t want all the same people doing the same thing. This is the beauty of trait number two, Perspective.
Perspective is the way you perceive and interpret the world and its inhabitants. Perception is based on the summation of your experience in life and is different for all people. We often forget that all people are different and don’t “walk a mile” in their shoes. It allows us to not only diversify our problem solving abilities, but also creates an opportunity for learning. Someone who sees all the details in a problem may not understand the big picture. Someone who is used to the creative process may not be able to stick to a strict schedule. This is why humans have survived for so long. We were meant to work together. We don’t need to be good at everything. This is why we need to have trust, transparency, and build strong relationships with the people we work with.
The third thing we can all bring that is hard to measure is energy. One of the things I pride myself on is to get people energized around an idea and I do it through my own excitement for that idea. I remember going to one of our leadership trainings and talking with a few of my coworkers about the karaoke event we were going to have at the end of the training and how many of them were dreading it. I kept talking with them about how excited I was for it and how great it would be and brought my excitement level up to try to rub off on them. Then after a couple beers… and my persistence we got them up on that stage! It’s not only about me being energetic, but it’s also showing that we can be vulnerable. If you are willing to stick your neck out, to make a fool of yourself, to show your people that the environment they are in is safe. Safe environments allow us to begin building trust among one another. If you don’t have the energy, then use your passion. Passion shines through and you can tell when people truly care about something. Speak openly, honestly, and with energy about the things you care about and you will see the reciprocity not only in growth of your company, but in the togetherness of your team.
The last thing that we often talk about yet is not measured by your resume is leadership. Now, I know you want to argue with me. “Matt…. I was the team captain of my college sports team, I the head of the outdoor recreation group, and I started a volunteer team to raise money for local charities”… and so on that you have listed on that paper. I understand that you have been in a role of managing people or resources, but leadership has nothing to do with your rank in a company or a title behind your name. Many people who hold high positions in companies are not leaders, while some of the lowest level employees possess amazing leadership skills. Leadership is a choice and that choice is self-sacrifice. As I was touching on earlier, sticking your neck out for people shows that you care. People often mistake leadership as something we can learn just in a classroom or after a week of training. If it was that easy then why do we not have leaders running around rampant in our companies?? It’s because it’s not! We know that working out for an hour a month will not get you a six-pack. Yet we think going to a leadership course for a week prepares you to be a leader for the rest of your career. Evolution not revolution, sustained change is not an overnight process. You must work at it just as some people work on their fitness or their sport or whatever facet of life you are trying to improve upon. Every single day getting one percent better and improving while focusing on the process, not the result.
I have said it before and I’ll say it until my time is up; it’s not about the result. The 8.5×11 sheet of paper will tell people all about your results. Then employers will compare you among the 500 other candidates and see how your results stack up. It’s not about the result, it’s about the process. Focus on getting better each and every day in order to see yourself continually grow. This will also begin to open up your mindset which will take you beyond that piece of paper. So, I hope when you sit down to talk about your next career opportunity with your future employer, you can say I understand I may not have the most experience. I know I may not know everything, but here are some qualities about me you don’t see on that piece of paper…