Thursday, August 22, 2013

Spun Out

Putting the best spin on any given subject appears to be the order of the day, regardless of what it is. Some may say they find it hard to find the truth amidst the spun versions of almost anything and everything. And it appears most people are just fine with this, they hear what they want to, happily smile and go on with whatever they are doing. “Tell me what I want to hear and I’m okay” seems to be the prevailing attitude. That is, until they realize things are not necessarily as described and they feel misled. But, even then, more often than not, too many can be easily soothed back into their walking slumber with more hollow words of reassurance as they resume shuffling forward  for the time being. As you may imagine, this extends to the employment realm, where hiring processes can more resemble a marketing campaign than a ritual of applicant selection.  

There are pros and cons to every job and, likewise, everyone has their pluses and minuses; there is no perfect job and there are no perfect people. Whether you apply or are recruited, whilst being evaluated during the interview process you will be asked about your experience and what you have to offer, and they will seek to learn about your shortcomings (as they should) and comparatively weigh the advantages and any negatives with which to make their decision. 

Ironically, many job seekers fail to apply the same scrutiny about the job and their potential new employer. And unless you make a conscious effort to ask and probe, hiring managers will almost always tell you only the good stuff; it’s up to you to ask about and investigate any negatives. So let me ask, if the tables are turned, can you offer up only the good stuff and conveniently gloss over or ‘spin’ your shortcomings or past mistakes and still assume you’ll be hired?  

When I begin to learn the details about a job for which a client wants my assistance, I will make a point of asking them about any problems with the job, department or the company; I ask them if there is any negative press or rumors about their company. I do this for a slightly different reason because, if I encounter any rumors, I want to address those concerns right away whether they are real or false, as they often are second and third-hand opinions or emotional responses. Often someone might make a reflexive decision based only on a rumor they heard from a friend of a friend’s cousin, who worked for the company, but left. In order to do a good job on behalf of the company (client) I am representing, I check these things out to save time and better inform those job candidates I recruit and or represent. You need to do the same thing. Joining a company because of their name or brand, or because a friend or family member says you should, isn’t very smart but this is what many folks do. You must check it out for yourself and when you do, really check it out thoroughly. Now, some may worry that a hiring manager might not like the questions, but if their patience is so shallow do you really want to work for that person? Furthermore, many managers I know are surprised applicants do so little investigation before jumping at an offer; even they think it is shortsighted.  

One of the most telling examples is in sales-related roles. Most often a manager will tell an interviewee how great the job is and talk about their best rep, who earned the highest bonus / commission, and suggest you too can be as successful. First of all they’re selling, because that’s what they do. But putting myself in the interviewee’s shoes, yes, it sounds great, but telling me what the best guy or gal in the best territory earned last year doesn’t tell me about where I am, it’s not quite relevant, is it? Therefore, the burden is on me, the job seeker, not to fall for this best spin and get the info that matters. If you don’t ask, they won’t tell you; they aren’t mind readers.  

So, when they tell you all the good stuff, acknowledge how great it sounds but then seek to learn about any negatives. Who knows, perhaps there are few or no negatives and it’s all good. Then, your fuller understanding of the job makes your decision easier and they know, by way of your due diligence, that you’re their best choice as well. 

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