Early in February I was back at my Alma Mater, Benedictine University. I was asked to do a combined program for their Career Development, Alumni Relations and University Development offices, and I was truly honored to participate. Those attending included students, alumni and members of the business community. The theme was DEVELOPING YOUR EMPLOYMENT TOOLBOX. My focus for the presentation was — degrees are important, experience is important, but my specific message was to remind participants that ethics, values and their moral compass will also play a key role in their career success.
In preparing for the program I considered those in the audience who were, or soon would be, actively involved in a job search. I wanted to offer specific ideas that could help with their search and to do that I needed help. Two friends came to mind — both are outstanding people and highly successful CEO’s and I contacted them for their insights. The following is a condensed version of information I gathered from them. I am grateful for their time and insight, the participants in the program responded positively, and so I offer this in the newsletter to assist readers who might also be in the job search mode.
Expert # 1– CEO in the staffing industry
• Visit each company in person and always ask to fill out an application whether there are job openings or not.
He illustrated how this advice worked for his own son…He visited a company in person. He was told by HR that there were no current job openings, but he asked if he could fill out an application anyway. While he was filling out an application a senior level executive passed by and noticed him — one thing led to another, and he was hired. He has had an outstanding career with this employer for a number of years. Also mentioned– at the time he was hired– this company was the 37th one he visited in person!
• Just sending out resumes rarely produces results.
• Consider how you will fit into the environment of the company.
• You need to be unique and to present yourself well.
• Personalize your resume.
• Send a personal note of thanks to every person who interviewed you.
Expert #2 — CEO in the tree/forestry industry
• Confidence: How do you present yourself? Everyone enjoys someone with a friendly attitude and cheerful manner….looks you in the eye and seems honestly interested in our business and listens to what we have to say.
• A desire to grow and learn. Those who want to come in and learn and grow with us are most attractive. Shows that they are trainable and will have self motivation to advance.
• Leadership experiences—it is increasingly hard to find people who have taken leadership roles, i.e. club president, team captain, etc. When you come across one of these people they really stand out.
• Passion– are they passionate about our industry? You can’t measure this but you can feel it…for us if they are just into the trees and not people, they will have a stunted career. We are all about people and in the end (and isn’t most business) so if we hear things like “I love trees but not people” that is a red flag.
• Ability to work well with others. Have you been on teams, collaborated, and worked on a project as a group? I find that those who work well with others do the best—pretty obvious but –but sometimes hard to uncover in an interview.
And back to my input on the subject— it would be worthwhile to research the values statements, mission statements, and code of conduct /code of ethics of potential employers. Insights from employees or vendors might also prove helpful in providing an over-all picture of the integrity of an organization.
Recently a friend of mind landed what seemed to be a great job after the company that employed him for many years was sold. The new job was in his field and things looked great. When we got together a few months later I was surprised to learn that he left the new position. He told me that after only a short while it became obvious that the culture and the way he was “expected” to manage his staff was not compatible with his values and he felt he had no choice but to resign.
While it is not a guarantee, the more you can find out about the potential employer’s ethics and values the better your chances for landing and keeping a job that is going to contribute to your career success!