The Desk

July 15, 2017

Evaluating Character

There are candidates who present themselves and proclaim that they have a passion about a particular cause that makes them uniquely qualified because of the insights that passion caused them to discover. For the most part, this is a very real facet of gaining knowledge and expertise. It supplements knowledge of the primary discipline that, in turn, creates the ability to forecast consequences of one act compared with another on future outcomes.

Sometimes the interview will aid in discovering the candidate’s growing interest in their passion and how it’s applicable to the work they seek. Some will be insightful and bring this interest into the conversation at some strategic time. Caution needs to be used if the added awareness and qualification for the position is couched on this passion and not direct experience.

Sometimes this “passion” is fleeting; it exists only for the sake of gaining a better position over the competition. One sign of a fleeting passion is the inability to have a detailed conversation about it as it relates to the position, the work, the overall direction of the company and its target. Or there may be detailed knowledge. The false passion is more like a moving target as discussion of it evolves in relation to the position – or anything else. Scrutiny comes into play to discern whether the knowledge is tantamount to merely parroting marketplace rhetoric. One with real passion will be able to offer unique insights; they have ideas that are more than the typical hyperbole.

We all have biases of one type or another. It’s important to be aware of them and to admit to them so that those biases can be put aside when making critical decisions, especially about hiring qualified talent. That’s why evaluating a candidate who professes a special interest that makes them more qualified than others needs special care.

Melania Trump’s passion about children, especially abused children, became a matter for closer scrutiny and an example of necessary care when evaluating a candidate. Because of her association with an unpopular, high-profile figure (not to mention some very public gaffes), she does not have the usual adoring audience. In fact, her background shows behavior that’s been quite the opposite of the reaction that is usually expected of someone in her position.

We look at the woman who is noted as having a favorable university education. A rare quality is that she speaks seven foreign languages. She is noted as having a strong interest in art, architecture, and design. On paper, it’s expected that she would be the one making decisions about her destiny and being very outspoken in that area. Yet, the public gaffes that follow and haunt her show she has poor discretion and depends on others to do her speech writing.

She has declared FLOTUS causes that are vogue since the late days of the campaign only to abandon one for something else that seems to be taking public attention by storm and then abandoning that cause as well. Does this FLOTUS have a cause, a passion?

There is a consistency in her behavior. Using recent audio clips of statements she’s made, we find she is noted for her defense of her controversial husband with the averment, “while her husband is fair and treats everyone equally, he will ‘punch back ten times harder’ if he is attacked.” Perhaps that defense was pulled from a statement her husband made a year earlier.

Those who speculated about her refusal to move into the White House in January. She made a campaign declaration that she wears the color of the place where she lives. Many thought that meant she eagerly looked forward living in the White House. After hearing one fabricated-sounding excuse after another for keeping her distance from her husband’s new domicile for five months, speculation rose that she may be suffering from abuse and wanted to keep the distance for whatever reason could be manufactured.

In May, the President and his wife took their first official trip outside of the United States. In the initial days of the trip, the relationship showed strain. It wasn’t until the flight that brought the couple home to the White House that the tension dissipated. Uncharacteristic of previous behavior, she seemed animated and happy, even in the presence of her husband. That was also the day when Melania’s interest in fostering her FLOTUS cause was announced, care for children of abuse.

Attention to children of abuse seems like a legitimate cause. The speculation about the atmosphere in the First Family home points to the possibility that this is the cause that will endure. However, the reasoning for her absence from the home evaporated when it was reported that she had Secret Service escort her son to and from school while she stayed in the Trump Tower penthouse alone. Yet she seemed to blossom when in the company of abused children in foreign countries.

The legitimacy of her cause to support abuse victims also wears thin when we hear that campaign support of her husband repeated in speeches after the inauguration and as more damaging headlines emerge about the leadership abilities of her husband. “. . . he will ‘punch back ten times harder’ if he is attacked.” Has Melania developed Stockholm Syndrome and it’s being evidenced by way of this repeated statement in his defense?

This candidate is stellar on paper. But once the background investigation begins, the visage falls apart. Perhaps the abused children cause is yet another cause du jour.

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May 4, 2016

Interests and Hobbies for Distinction

Filed under: Hiring,Job Search,Recruiting — Yvonne LaRose @ 3:38 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

An article recently came to my attention. The recommendations were dubious. Then an opportunity to share the knowledge with a group of recruiters arose. The group shared my reservations. The recommendation was to include one’s interests and hobbies on the resume and profile in order to distinguish special skills and stand out among the competition. The article proposed that the interests and hobbies would indicate particular strengths and abilities that can be used as indicia of success in the job that needs to be filled. dreamstimefree_14073429

The group of recruiters voiced opinions on the matter:

  • “I don’t normally pay attention to that section.”
  • It doesn’t really have any relevance to the job that’s on my desk
  • “I don’t use it.”

Job seekers are looking for whatever they can use to set themselves apart in a positive way. No doubt they will read that same article and believe that the advice applies to all job searches of whatever type and all manner of positions. After a lot of research in order to re-locate the correct article, one rose to the surface that made some distinguishing points about using hobbies and interests. They are helpful when the position is in a more esoteric area that requires unique skills that indicate traits such as perseverance, attention to detail, impervious to high levels of stress.

But what about the company that needs to fill a vacancy for a position in a special needs school? The person who knows and is able to use sign language may list that as a language skill and hobby in light of the fact that they do volunteer work at the John Tracy Clinic.

When we speak of job search, there’s an automatic default to ideas about jobs in the office. However, there are many types of jobs in different industries. A person could have a strong interest in health and medicine but they don’t want to be involved in working on people. There are also animals that require similar services. What about forestry as an option. Or that same person simply doesn’t want to be involved in health services but has a strong interest and keen skills in computers and programming. Perhaps their path to success is in the health sciences arena at a hospital or health facility.

So the candidate loves DIY projects. Could that mean they’re good a analysis, have strong concentration and focus skills, and are good at interpreting diagrams? Maybe there’s a niche for them in some form of construction or machine work.

The world of work is becoming increasingly complicated in regard to qualifying for a position and simply getting in the door. Occupations that you wouldn’t think of as requiring a resume now use that tool as part of the entry point. Do hobbies and extracurricular activities have a place and purpose on the resume or application? At times, they do. But they need to be used strategically if they are used at all. Sometimes they can become the bullet that shot the high school cheerleader who is applying for a mid-level management position in the foot. She’s remembered decades after leaving her application but not for the reasons she intended.

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January 2, 2016

Exposure and Expertise

Businessman giving an used book to another businessman, learning to survive

Businessman giving a used book to another businessman, learning to survive

There’s a constant search for the best qualified candidate to be added to your workforce. They come to the table with all the education that’s required by the job description. They have the right amount of experience performing the tasks that need to be done. They are aware of the terminology and use it in appropriate context. They are wonderful when it comes to timely execution and speed. Why do they have all of these gifts? Where can you find more of them?

No doubt some of these skills were gained in the classes they took. Still others were developed with exposure to various technologies. Still other things were learned through conversations and reading all manner of trade and recreational content.

How useful all of this knowledge proves to be depends on its source and the amount and type of education that accompanied it. If it was merely parroting something without any appreciation of what the expression means or its history, not to mention the why of its use, then it’s simply doing because you were told to do so when x, y, or z occurred.

You can break a contract but taken literally, it’s difficult to see how a piece of paper can be broken. How many who don’t have exposure to that term understand that violating the terms of the agreement can result in losing the benefits of the association? We can talk about algorithms. That’s a fine and fancy name for having different bases of measuring things that are already in daily use. We count denominations of money using a base of 10. However, we measure distances, space, and time with a base of 12. All of those are algorithms. Does the neophyte realize this? Perhaps not. They’re simply intimidated by this new word and concept that’s been put before them with no explanation.

Taking a skills test can be similar to taking a classroom evaluation of the last section that was taught. However, screening and selection tests such as the LSAT or the SAT are an entirely different thing. If the applicant has never experienced an evaluation process of that type, it shouldn’t be expected that they will perform well on literally their first exposure – unless, of course, there’s some form of genius lurking in those brain cells.

Scalia recently opined that Blacks should not be put into the better educational institutions because they have poor learning skills. That might be true were it not for the fact that educating Blacks has historically been an after thought (if that much). Like women, they were to be kept uneducated in order to have better control over the population and keep them in a state of being disenfranchised. And even in that ethnicity, plus the combinations that created racial and ethnic Creoles, there have been those who found patrons who saw the benefits of providing quality education to them. In the alternative, the population found ways to gain even the rudimentary gems of education in order to propel them into something more.

Education is a prized aspired to by all races and ethnicities. Each family sees it as the tool that will bring fulfillment of the promise of a better life and empowerment. But that promise cannot be realized if the mentoring and educating to create the employable candidate is not provided.

So develop your employee education programs to your advantage. Also develop mentoring programs with an eye toward reducing apathy while increasing engagement and productivity. The exposure to the concepts and terminology will provide you with more than just the ideal candidate for the next step on the ladder.

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