Monday, September 16, 2013

Dulled Senses

After posting my last blog, I was called out by a middle-senior manager working in an administrative capacity, who suggested I am being provocative, picking on and ridiculing companies and especially human resources with regard to their hiring practices. For the record I am not, quite the contrary although, what I am categorically against is the creeping fungus that is lethargy, apathy and especially atrophy as a consequence of expediency and supposed time-saving methods for hiring and evaluating job seekers. I am likewise admittedly critical of individuals who think they can obtain, much less deserve, a job by doing little more than sending a few, or a lot, of emailed resumes and assume they are deserving of a job more than others who actually make an effort. If we’re honest with each other, we have collectively gotten lazier for one simple reason, we’ve been allowed to do so.

Question: when was the last time you did a mathematical equation in your head beyond single or perhaps double-digit addition, subtraction, division or multiplication; how about converting a fraction to a percentage? I'll bet your reflex or habit was to reach for a device to do it for you. Furthermore, when was the last time you used cursive writing, I know mine has gotten rather sloppy because I don’t use it, although admittedly it always was a bit illegible, but like most people, we are more tied to a keyboard or we text and these examples symbolize my point. By our very nature, people will always take the path of least resistance to accomplish tasks. That is not to suggest we are lazy, it is from this that innovation takes root, as someone somewhere finds better and easier ways to do things more effectively. But as time passes, the phrase if you don’t use it, you lose it comes to mind.

Furthermore, the demands of job hunting and interviewing methods in recent years pull us in many different directions. Consider your resume; for example, there’s no shortage of opinions about what makes a resume too long or too short, or emphasizing that you must ensure it has plenty of key words and can be scanned, otherwise it may not be noticed. So what of the content, the information that will actually attract the attention of a hiring manager?

However, I believe what has suffered most is the ability to communicate, not through technical or digital means but face-to-face, in person. Granted, your resume is important in order to get you in the door, but after that you’re up, what then? It might not be your fault, although I don’t know how there is anyone else to blame, it is your responsibility and nobody can do it for you. Too many times I’ve met people who are otherwise smart, clever and talented but, for whatever reason, when they are required to articulate a thought, often I hear little that could be described as impactful; I hear one statement after another that goes something like this, “well um, you know…I mean, I was, like…you know…” No wonder so many hiring managers are increasingly frustrated. The reason for this in my view is the digital divide between communicating online and reliance on abbreviated statements used in text, twitter and other means of instant communication.

All of the cool tech toys we enjoy have only been around a short time, which curiously coincides with the backsliding and deterioration of interpersonal skills during the last twenty years, although I am not pining for the good old days. Looking forward, I write in an attempt to appeal to as many people as I can who want to improve their chances for success when they determine it is time to look for a new job. There are a lot of people out there competing for good jobs. Referring back to human nature, I know the vast majority won’t do anything different. So this means those who do make a concerted effort will elevate themselves; I mean we’re talking about basic stuff here. The only real difference between today and twenty or twenty five years ago, is that the Internet has replaced the newspaper classified section and email displaced snail mail, fax and increasingly, the telephone. Come on, does anyone really think they can point-and-click their way to a decent job without significant effort in the other more critical aspects incumbent upon you to be at your best? From where did that perception derive?
So what about you? Do you recognize room to improve your skills and what are you doing about it? While others remain stuck in neutral feeling safer amidst the herd, busy talking about what they can do, will you take advantage of trends that are holding others back?

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