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Career Skills, Training and Transitions

Posts Tagged ‘NFL’

Reading the Interviewer’s Mind – Part 3

Posted by jamesseetoo on April 27, 2010

Okay, so we’ve covered how to talk to the Tester.  Remember, the Tester is someone who always thinks there’s someone better out there and a lot of times will need to see upwards of ten candidates before making a decision.  So it’s really important to take control of the conversation and ask the Tester where other candidates didn’t meet expectations.

Now to the Investor.  Have you ever had a situation where you just clicked with someone?  I’m pretty sure if you haven’t grown up under a totalitarian government where every person you meant could possibly be a secret police agent waiting to through you in a gulag it’s pretty reasonable to assume that you have.  The Investor is looking for that connection.  She’s trying to find someone she not only can work with but wants to work with and it’s not always a rational decision.

I had a hiring manager just click with a candidate at an interview once.  When all the feedback, including my own and he was my candidate, was that after meeting the candidate in person, he wasn’t a fit for the role.  And I mean all the feedback from five different interviewers.  But the hiring manager just kept saying, “I really like the spring in his step.”  Investors will talk about liking a person’s energy, or just say “there’s something about him”.  In an interview, you’ll know you have an Investor when she begins projecting future responsibilities and career path and begins to speculate about where you might fit in down the line.

The Investor wants someone to mentor, someone whose career she can help grow.  Now, it’s very important to remember that a Tester will often become an Investor after getting to know you.  And the Investor will sometimes be forced to be a Tester if there is institutional pressure withing the company to find someone fast. Just remember it’s part of their interview strategy and something that you as a candidate can use to your advantage.

So just like knowing the Tester will want to make sure the boxes are checked – and what do we do about that?  That’s right, ask what those boxes are so you know you’re covering them.  When the Investor talks about synergy, teamwork and career path, go along with her and talk about those things.

Essentially, they’re covering the same points but in different contexts but like yelling fire in a crowded theater it’s all about context.  It’s okay to yell fire when the theater really is on fire isn’t it?

Make sure you prepare for your interview by having measurable achievements ready to discuss but be flexible in your delivery.  The Tester will want to check off the boxes before going into detail.  The Investor will want a narrative that will show how you “fit” into the environment and the team.

Like the recent NFL draft, you can draft for need or for best player available.  Testers will try to fill needs, Investors will want talent on their side.

Remember, your skills are your job security.

Best,

James Seetoo

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There’s Always Next Time

Posted by jamesseetoo on January 22, 2010

Well, I’m not sure how many of these sports analogy blogs I’ll be doing since my Packers lost to Arizona but there’s a good lesson here so I’ll take the opportunity while I can.

Like playoff fever, it’s natural for a candidate to be excited about a position as she’s going through the interview process and each round brings more and more excitement because naturally, the goals seems to be getting closer.  And it really is a competition since one blown interview means “one and done” in most cases.  As a recruiter, I get as excited as the candidates as they successfully get to the next stage of the process, like moving towards a championship game or in this case, a final interview.

Then something happens.  Either the job gets put on hold, another candidate surfaces, someone internal to the company gets the job and there’s a real letdown – very much like when your favorite team loses a playoff game.

And then comes the mourning phase, you’re let down, saddened by what happened  and it’s easy to get really upset and discouraged.  It’s normal.  It’s also short sighted.  Because here’s the thing, you were good enough to get to the interview stage.  You were picked out of a pile of resumes to go into the process when there were a lot of other people who never made it that far.

And you’re not alone.  As a recruiter, we all feel that same sense of disappointment – after all, we’re on the same team.  In fact, it hurts almost as much since if we’re contingency we don’t get paid and if we’re retained, we’re still out there working on it when we want to get on to the next project.

But think about it.  It’s a chance to learn something about yourself and the company you’ve interviewed with.  Searches usually evolve as candidates go through the interview process.  It’s a chance for companies to learn about their organization and what they really need.  Sometimes it’s a lot different than what they thought they needed and they feel the same loss when a candidate turns them down or if they hire the wrong person for the job.

So when things go wrong it’s natural to be down.  Remember, you’re never as good as you think you are or as bad as you think you are.  The important thing is to set aside feelings and objectively think what could have gone better.  It could be nothing but it’s important to keep from being overwhelmed by emotions at this point and get on to the next interview.  After all, at the very least you’ve probably just made a few new connections that might help you in the future.

Remember, your skills are your job security.

Best,

James Seetoo

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Talent + Hard Work +Character = Success

Posted by jamesseetoo on January 7, 2010

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.

Best,

James Seetoo

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There’s No “I” In Team But There Is “Me”

Posted by jamesseetoo on August 24, 2009

Well, the NFL is back on the air with the beginning of pre-season football. The sound of plastic smashing into large bodies traveling at high speeds is a sure sign of the turning season. Inflated oval balls spiraling down a 100 yard field to waiting hands interrupted by the loud crunch of bodies hurtling this way and that at nearly superhuman speeds stopping abruptly through contact with a larger body or plastic artificial turf reminds me that America’s favorite sport is back.

Now I have to say, that as far as pro sports go, football is my favorite. (I haven’t yet received my apology for the last baseball strike so I can’t support major league baseball.)

But there’s a reason why America loves football. It’s the quintessential team sport. Yes, on the lower levels one or two players can dominate a game but in the pro game that really doesn’t happen and those teams that have one dominating player never win championships. Essentially, a pro football team can’t function unless everyone does his part.

And that’s what people will tell you on the job, where sports analogies abound.

So yes, you should be a team player.

Always.

But being a team player doesn’t mean that you can’t be a team leader and too many people think that it means do your job and you’ve done your part. Being a leader means going above and beyond your job. Do what you need to to do consistently well. And try to find a better, more efficient way of doing it. Even if it means doing something manually. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen someone spend two hours looking for a telephone number on-line when a simple call to information would have taken two minutes.

So it goes back to basic leadership and again, you don’t have to be in charge to be a leader. I think Dick Winters the World War II officer made famous in “Band of Brothers” had the best definition. He said it came from a sign he saw in training that read, “Follow Me.”

I think too many people think being a leader automatically means being the “star”. When you think about it, the quarterback might be the greatest passer in history but even Tom Brady would have a hard time making any passes flat on his back with a 300 pound lineman lying on him. You think Michael Vick is hoping that he doesn’t have any dog lovers blocking for him?

The best leaders do what they have to do to get the job done. This means that when he has to, the quarterback throws a block or makes a tackle.

One of the episodes this brings to mind is when we had implemented a new applicant tracing system and there was no consistency in opening a job req which in turn meant all types of compliance issues. In order to give ourselves some breathing space and get people trained properly I volunteered to open all the reqs myself until everyone was on the same page which added an extra 10-15 hours to my week. But I had a great team and they followed my lead and volunteered to help which helped the group as a whole. They were stars in my eyes for picking up on the example I was trying to set.

So how do you stand out while still being a team player? You go above and beyond and consistently do your best. Never just phone it in. Because if you do just phone it in you should find something you like better. Since it’s better to leave than to be cut.

Remember, your skills are your job security.

Best,
James Seetoo

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