Components of a ‘Talent’ Profile

So what does the known ‘Talent’ pool have on their resume that you may not?

Now I know this all must sounds cynical, and you’ll probably roll your eyes at half of these. I’m not saying even one of them is necessary to be a talented worker or leader – these are just some of my observations of what I see most valued in the business world.

Have most of these, and recruiters will be banging down your door begging to make a commission off of you.

  1. Advanced degree(s) from top school(s) with honors or top GPA (btw, rumor has it that Brown & Dartmouth are out of style, albeit ivy)
  2. Political experience of some kind – even internships are valued
  3. Accomplishments galore in monetary terms, with exact impressive figures
  4. Management of huge (million to billion) budgets
  5. Impressive do-gooder credentials from when you did your B.A. or right after (i.e. peace corps, americorps, red cross, teach for America, unicef, UN work, humanitarian aid to 3rd world country, etc.)
  6. Design major programs or initiatives that people have heard of
  7. Consultant experience. Not the kind that was between jobs like, “Principal of Sharon’s Consultancy.” I mean some time at a top consulting firm (Bane, McKinsey, BGC, Parthenon…)
  8. Progressively impressive titles (i.e. analyst, project manager, special asst. to someone in a very high place, deputy director, director, etc.)
  9. Posh extra curricular’s & hobbies – polo, marathon running, ballet, triathalons, international backpacking
  10. Old money neighborhood or trendy address ideal
  11. Awards/fellowships: specific ones in your professional arena, fullbrights, broad scholars, etc.
  12. Study & travel abroad, preferably somewhere prestigious
  13. Professional affiliations – may be required depending on field
  14. Impressive buzz words in proper context, not just in white font for SEO on applicant systems: organizational strategy, dedicated, managed, financial analysis, advisory board, researched, pioneered, chaired (or at least co-chaired), strategic planning,  gates, dell or other large donor procurement, implementation, process improvement design, blah blah blah…
  15. Impressive companies or foundations to have worked for – big names make people happy
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The War for Talent Has Lazy Soldiers

Cover of "The War for Talent"

Cover of The War for Talent

Well for those unfamiliar with the ‘War for Talent’ – start with this wiki – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_war_for_talent.

Next – how and why I disagree with the overall idea that ‘Talent’ is really limited to so few people.

I’m not going to say that everyone is competent at their jobs, willing to always give 100%, go beyond what is asked of them, and lead others well – but I also don’t believe that everyone with this potential has been discovered already and only those at the management level of top of companies have it.

Lots of smart talented people are always looking for work. The issue seems to be that companies feel there are only ‘so many’ talented people, and they are the coveted platinum of hires that everyone wants.

But that’s known talent. Those are the stars with perfect resumes who have already been discovered. It’s easier to poach another company’s rising star than it is to find someone with executive potential that hasn’t had senior level roles yet, one who went to an average college or who took time off of work for a few years to raise her children. If someone has a lackluster resume when applying to a position, they get deleted. Hiring managers and recruiters aren’t losing sleep at night thinking, “Did I delete potential talent from the candidate pool today?”

If talent is defined by brains, flexibility, dedication to company mission, and willingness & ability to exceed expectations – who says that you don’t have it, just because you haven’t used it for a company yet?

No one, I suppose. Do you think you have that undiscovered talent the business world is looking for? I think I do, for one. And those that I meet networking often feel the same way when they ask me to consider working for their company. But as soon as they ask me to send over a resume, I know I’m pretty much finished if they’re not desperate to hire.

So how does one become recognizable talent from their resume? Stay tuned for a later post, I’ll try to chart out office superstar resumes as a whole – what they have that you (and I) are lacking.

What Not to Wear to Work

Bill Gates in business-casual attire.

Via Wikipedia - Gates in (Nerdy) Business Casual

I recently remarked to my husband that I wish I could wear PJ’s to work or something equally as comfortable. He said the only socially acceptable way to do this is if we move to Staten Island or New Jersey. But what about all the other people in the office who are wearing things I wouldn’t paint my house in?

I’m not saying my office per se, but in general lines have blurred when it comes to what’s appropriate to wear to an office. I think the suits-only companies left are few and far between – primarily high-end law & accounting firms. I’m sure there may be others, but generally most offices have taken the ‘business casual’ or plain old ‘causal’ workforce attire.

Casual

Anything goes, and if you wear a suit people will assume you’re going for an interview somewhere else after work – unless the head honcho is in town. That doesn’t even apply if you work for a start-up or trendy DUMBO place – the CEO’s there probably are wearing their hipster faded jeans too.

Business Casual   

The ultimate of gray areas. When people ask me what that means at interviews, I generally say, “No jeans, sweats, sneakers, t-shirts, large logo’s, or workout wear – and anything else goes.” What does it really mean in an office environment? It means 3 people in the same exact position & salary – one will be in a collared shirt, tie and slacks. The next guy will be in flip flops, shorts, and a t-shirt. The third person will be in a head-to-toe ed hardy or similar design/logo-covered sweat suit with expensive sneakers. Depending on where you work is how much will fly causally.

Business Attire

AKA suits. Or at least a shirt and tie with a jacket perpetually on the back of your chair. The ladies get to mix it up with either pencil skirts or pants. It is expected that your clothing is tailored to fit you. You should look and act like a professional.

Dress-down Fridays?

I’ve seen the flip flops with shorts in one department of a company on a Friday, where a different department a supervisor remarked, “I couldn’t help but notice you were wearing jeans on Friday…” When in Rome…even if there is a dress-down policy in some departments, it may not apply to all. Take a hint from what your supervisor wears. Also if you have an important meeting on a Friday, that’s a good reason to dress well anyway.

Dress for the Job You Want, Not the Job You Have

This is old advice that many have lived by, and I’ve seen it work successfully. It may come across as awkward if you have a large divide in what the next level of administration up from you wears, i.e. if you’re level dresses casually as call takers, but the supervisors wear suits, it might seem weird if you walk in suddenly one day and going forward in suits. I suggest taking it up one step, but never over-dress. If the boss doesn’t wear a tie or suit, you shouldn’t either. It doesn’t mean that you have to go casual. Wear sleek, classic styles that would make you stand out from the jeans crowd, but not peg you as someone trying too hard.

Dress = Atmosphere

Business clothing brings with it the ‘business’ atmosphere. You wouldn’t yell out, “Who wants to come for pizza with me for lunch?” in a business environment. But if everyone’s dressed casually, why not? I saw an article featuring a start-up that had clothing for the start-up CEO. Yes, I’m serious. It was basically very overpriced durable hipster suit jackets to be worn with jeans and collared shirts. The craziest part? All the comments left on the article were either commending the company – that it’s so hard to figure out what to wear when you don’t want to overdress – but also don’t want to be the brunt of ‘Zuckerberg’ jokes because he’s still wearing sweats with flip flops a few billion later.

Then women got in on it in the comments section – like how men don’t need $400 suit jackets to wear with jeans – women do! That the men are all wearing collared shirts & jeans – but what do the women wear to look put together but casual, and still get taken seriously?

The women were jealous and were hoping this company would do a women’s line. Wow. All I could think was that uniforms are great. That high-paid executives, even business owners, have trouble presenting themselves with clothing – and wouldn’t it be easier to take out all the guessing?

Even if the uniform is black suit, light colored shirt, at least you won’t have to spend hours guessing what’s appropriate for work that day!

So in conclusion  –  know that whatever you wear will be judged in your place of employment. It may never be expressed to you, but the overall impression your coworkers and superiors have of you will be largely based on your appearance. Yep we’re that superficial, now you know – don’t pretend you don’t.

Wearing beach clothes to work is fine if you’re in a dead-ended job and plan to burn your bridges with them on your way out – but if you even think you might want to use them as a reference for your next ‘real job’ – dress up a bit more.

You have nothing to lose except a little comfort. Go get into your t-shirt as soon as you get home, pop open a cold beer, and return to being the unprofessional sloth you really are deep down inside. At least this way no one at work will ever be on to it, and you’ll have a professional reputation!

Shortlink to this post: http://wp.me/pWfpN-fy

Hiring Ethics Question of the Day: Should Smart People Be Paid More?

Wordle: http://sharon.cc

Or, in other words, does it boil down to:

The Talent Profile vs. The Talent Myth?

The ‘Talent’ buzzword is beyond overused in the HR world nowadays (although not quite as stupidly as ‘HR should have a seat at the table blah blah…’). There’s an idea that some people are capable of ‘more’ than others, and that said talented people will be your ideal employees.

It reminds me of ‘talent’ programs for high IQ kids in elementary schools. But is that what it’s really about? Smart people are the best employees and therefore should be paid the most? If you got the highest GPA you win the job with a bonus?

I guess that leads to another question: Are there certain people who are really capable of more – or is it about willingness to do more? And what does this have to do with the talent profile?

I think the key thing to take into account is whether or not brains make the best employees. I’m not going to say brain power, aka, ‘talent’, isn’t important – especially for more senior level decision makers – it’s essential. It’s what I look for when I recruit for senior positions – but it’s more than just brains or a high GPA. Plenty of people have those with little ability for application of logic in the workplace.

Now for entry through average-level jobs – I personally think the best workers will be those who are doers, who play nicely with others, with good hearts who help others out. People with disabilities will generally be a better coworker/performer than the smart, lazy ‘talented’ jerk.

So what do you all think? Is ‘talent’ about brains, flexibility, a willingness to go beyond status quo – or something else entirely? Should ‘talent’ be directly linked to compensation?

Shortlink to this post: http://wp.me/pWfpN-dp

You want to work in HR by choice? Seriously? Well…if you’re sure…here’s how…

Someone posed this question, and I thought it might benefit others to share on the topic.

I’d like to break into the HR field. I’m pursuing my BA currently. What majors or certifications would you recommend I obtain to find a strong position in the field when I graduate?

I’m sure many employers look for HR certifications, or I can’t imagine why they’d be so popular.

That being said, I have never come across a resume/application for a position where this was a deciding factor.

I’ve yet to see a resume with no relevant experience or education, but has HR certifications – and see the candidate be seriously considered for a  position.

On the flip side, I’ve never seen a great resume with strong relevant education & experience that was not seriously considered because they did NOT have HR certificates…but hey, could be this happens other places.

Majors: a business or liberal arts degree ought to suffice if complimented by internships or junior positions in the field. Depending on what type of HR environment you’d like to work in, you might want to major in something relevant to that, as opposed to an HR degree (which not every university offers). If you decide later on that you’d rather work in a different area (say accounting) a general degree would be more helpful than a specified one.

Very few HR leaders I’ve met knew they wanted to work in HR (like me!). They generally fall into it from other roles or positions. Even within HR there are many types of roles from benefits, employee relations, recruiting (yay), union relations, diversity specialists, generalists (who deal with everything), payroll, timekeeping, leaves…you get the point.

Taking a position or internship while in school is my best advice. Had I not done social work internships, I would be a social worker now. I only needed one more year of school to have my MSW, but upon working in various social work environments I realized it was not the type of challenge I would enjoy long term.

Before you plan your life around a career you have yet to experience, try it out (paid or not). It might help you specify the area you’d like to focus on, or like in my case, save you from wasting time and pigeon-holing yourself in the career realm.

Final note on certifications: Many are expensive, require annual payment, membership renewals, or maintenance to keep the certifications. In the end they’re a business. Many people will write “six sigma black belt certification obtained” as that they no longer maintain it, but once they’ve achieved it and put it on their resume, it satisfies their goal.

*Exception tip: Once you’re working in a field, many employers will pay for you to obtain certifications & allow you to do them on work time. If so I definitely recommend this! It can’t take away from your resume, and will broaden your network and skills without losing time or money. Talk to your employee development person or someone from HR to see if your employer allows for this.

Shortlink to this post: http://wp.me/pWfpN-93

Hiring Tips from a CEO

(make that a fabulously-talented-yet-humble CEO)

Today I have my first guest blogger who’d like to anonymously share their opinion about hiring.

What’s yours? Send it over to me posts@sharon.cc and I’ll post it if I feel our faithful readers have something to gain from it.

Ever wonder what a hiring manager think when you apply for a position you’re not qualified for?

Do they think, well hey, you love kids, and want to help them, so maybe they’ll hire you to be a pediatrician even though you didn’t go to medical school? Apparently not. Here’s the real reaction: don’t over-reach if you need a job. If you’re secure and looking for a small advancement appropriate to your experience, well then good luck!

“Perhaps it is not your resume itself – rather it’s the content: do your job skills match what you are applying for?

You should realize that sometimes hundreds of people apply for the same job (although sometimes it is only a handful which may not be qualified, so don’t be discouraged completely).

If you aren’t getting interviews or responses to applications it may be that other applicants would be able to hit the ground running immediately, with little training; whereas you might seem to be a smart on paper if your resume is strong enough, but would need to be trained. 

If you know what you want to do, get an internship in the field.  Think outside of the box.  Ask people who work in the field to let you work for free.  Contact a non-profit that will let you work on your own schedule.  Call your college and speak to alumni in the field.  Ask friends and family who they know.  There are a number of non-profit organizations that can help with resumes. Start at the bottom up, with an entry level role in the field you want if necessary.

Sending a million resumes on Monster.com and other similar sites is a waste of time and energy.  Make sure your cover letter/resume matches what you are looking for. 

For instance, when I was hiring for a 10 hour a week job, I received almost 100 resumes.  People who were graduating applied and stated that they were interested in the job.  I knew they would quit the moment that a full time role was available elsewhere.  I only interviewed people who stated they were looking for a part time job and reasons why (for instance, a sophomore in college who would like to get experience to supplement education or someone looking to get back into the workforce slowly).

If you are getting interviews but not getting the job, you may need to look at your interview skills, how you come across (how do you look, how do you speak, do you have any weird mannerisms?) and how prepared you appear. Perhaps you could do mock interviews. Again, there are agencies that can help if you cannot afford to hire a professional.”

So there you have it ladies & gentlemen – a CEO is not thrilled that you’re under-qualified or not an appropriate fit but decided to waste time: both yours and theirs.

Put your energy into strong applications for positions you have a strong chance of obtaining!

Shortlink: http://wp.me/pWfpN-7g

12 Steps to a Career You Deserve


Hi my name is Sharon and I’m in a dead-end career/unemployed/underemployed….
All in unison: Hi Sharon.

Remember that you’re still the seller and that etiquette, manners, and patience will bring you much closer to your career goals than bitterness, laziness or rudeness.

1. Figure out what you’re actually qualified to do that you’d potentially enjoy, and reach within your bounds, overshooting them will be a wasted effort and give burn-out

2. Decide what type of position would suit you ideally, p/t, f/t, consulting, internship, etc.

3. Create a consistent, professional brand and profile for yourself: resumes & cover letters for various industries/target audiences, business cards, online web presence, thank you letters, elevator pitch, etc.

4. Apply to advertised jobs with targeted cover letters – I’ve seen many resumes thrown out because the objective or cover letter is targeted to a different job – make it crystal clear why you want THIS job, and why you’re qualified for THIS job, but feel free to mention what else you’d consider or to keep things broad

5. Send your resume to places you want to work, explaining why you want to work there & what positions you’d like, even if they don’t have advertised positions

6. Network with people in the industry you want to be in

7. General networking: make sure everyone you know or meet knows what you’re looking for and why

8. Follow up with sincere, personally written thank you notes to everyone who does anything for you in the process from introductions to interviews – but NEVER give a deadline or imply one, i.e., “I hope to hear from you regarding your decision by September 1” – it’s in poor taste, and perhaps it takes a month for the company to come to a decision – do you want the company to think you’re not longer interested because they couldn’t accommodate you?

9. Present your very best: have an excellent dark suit, pressed collared shirts, and classic bags/shoes/accessories/portfolios to present at interviews. Have something a little more daring for networking events to look professional but stand out of the crowd.

10. Confidence works: Interview and network like you’re everyone’s favorite person, try to figure out culture of others and tailor all responses and actions to where you are – when in Rome, do as the Romans

11. Realize that different strokes work for different folks: just because a technique landed your last job, don’t expect it to automatically work again

12. Negotiate offer, unless it’s clearly set in stone. Never expect to get more than you’ve asked for previously, and don’t expect much more than a job was advertised or offered at. Most companies figure nowasdays that they can find someone to do the job at the salary they want to pay, and they’re OK if that person isn’t you – but generally it doesn’t hurt to ask if a little more is available due to your extraordianary skills, value and talents you bring to the company. Reinstate why you want this role, why you want to work for the company, but is there any room for flexibility?

It can’t hurt – if a place rescinds your offer because you asked to negotiate you probably don’t want to work there anyway…that’s not nice!

Short link: http://wp.me/pWfpN-61