Thursday, March 1, 2012

Life Skill: Read Between the Lines. Better Yet, Be Open and Honest

I often check in with CareerHMO for great career tips to help me refocus my career path. The other day I received their weekly email blast. It was so on the money I couldn't resist reposting it here.

J.T. O'Donnell, the CEO of CareerHMO suggests that employers, like employees, are just as guilty for using pat words or phrases to glorify and sell during the recruitment scenario. An employee uses certain phrases on their resume to help them appear to be the best candidate for the position and the employer also uses certain phrases in a job description help sell the position to the employee. As with most things in life, it's important to read between the lines to understand the hidden meanings. With tongue in cheek, J.T. lists what these job descriptions really mean.

"Motivated team-player – Looking for someone who needs a job badly enough that they'll put up with lots of unmotivated, annoying people from whom you'll have to get buy-in on almost everything you do.
High achiever, driven to succeed – Must be a complete brown-nose whose sole mission in life is to please and impress management.
Customer-focused – Can take a lot of abuse from clients AND management and still act pleasant.
Resourceful, independent self-starter – Since we have absolutely no time or resources to train you, we expect you to figure everything out for yourself… quickly.
Attentive to details – We have strict policies and procedures and won't hesitate to blame you for everything if you make a mistake.
Flexible, enjoys multi-tasking – We are unorganized and change corporate directions daily, so you'll need to be able to clean up our messes and do jobs that A) you weren't told about in the interview, and B) aren't trained to do properly – all on a moment's notice.
Agent of change – You'll be responsible for implementing a bunch of stuff we've been unable to make happen with a group of people who are digging in their heels and refusing to convert.
Works well under pressure – Our management team considers everything urgent and is going to micro-manage you daily.
Solution-oriented – We are going to give you lots of messes to clean up and expect you to figure out how to handle them without our direction and with a big smile on your face, even though we aren't going to give you any resources or support to get it done."

She goes on to note that "there are no perfect jobs or perfect employers" and this is absolutely true. I've given up on expecting perfection in a lot of areas of my life. Most notably areas where people are involved. (Don't get me wrong, I am still -and always will be- in love with a perfectly clean bathroom!) But when people are involved there is just no possible way to achieve perfection. Here's why:

People are continuously evolving. Just when you think you've got the other person figured out, or just when you think you've figured yourself out, something changes -life happens- and new challenges present themselves. New obstacles or frustrations come to light. It took a long time, but I finally was able to adjust my attitude and see my professional life from a different perspective. I'm no longer searching for and expecting to find a perfect situation to land into, instead I'm seeking out situations where it is possible to work towards and co-create empowering work relationships.

This has lead me to seek out strategies and processes that can help me navigate and negotiate my professional relationships better. (One great online workshop I've found is from Chrissy Scivicque from Eat Your Career. She talks about Intentional Relationship Design -consciously and cooperatively, openly and honestly, co-defining the structure of relationships.) In fact, most of the strategies I'm learning can help with ALL my relationships because it all boils down to being transparent, open, honest, self aware, authentic, curious and compassionate.

This is exactly the direction the recruitment relationship needs to go. The recruitment relationship is the dating phase of a professional relationship. Interviews are all about courting. A solid and strong relationship where both parties feel valued and valuable is built on trust. Trust is based on truth. So of course, any information that is misleading or not truthful will eventually come to light and poke a hole in the future trust of that relationship.

Everyone, even HR recruiters, needs to understand that our actions are an equal half of the equation when it comes to defining the type of relationship that will develop. Think consciously about what kind of foundation you need to create to develop the type of relationship you want. The question becomes, "Am I behaving in a way that will lead to just a one night stand kind of relationship? Am I behaving in a way that will lead to a passive aggressive relationship riddled with miscommunication? Or, are my actions setting the foundation for a trusting and growing relationship and the possibility of a long future? Am I being truthful and honest?"

It's great to hear people point out fallacies and untruths. The dialogue or communication between the employee and the employer needs to be as open and honest as possible from both sides, at all levels and at all stages of the relationship. Corporate (north) America on the whole is maturing and growing right now. We are negotiating better relationships with those in power. I see evidence of these growing pains all over the place. Occupy is not new. It's part of the process of maturing and growing relationships.

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