Guest Blogger – Meghan M. Biro, Founder, TalentCulture, LLC
In my practice with career seekers, evaluation of a resume and coaching are table stakes. I prefer to focus on understanding a candidate’s personality (as well as resume and overall skill set) because it’s really the key to whether a person will fit with my recruiting clients’ corporate culture and stay long term (not to mention I happen to find the concept of personality endlessly fascinating). Let’s look at the attributes of personality that can affect fit to see what can be anticipated, what can be leveraged, and what, perhaps, can be changed or managed.
It’s important to be clear that there’s a difference between personality and behavior. True, the first influences the second, but remember that while you might not be able to change your personality, it is within your ability – and it’s often in your best interest – to manage your behavior to achieve ‘fit’ with a company’s culture.
Let’s take an example. Recently I’ve reconnected with an extroverted, chatty, funny VP of Sales in the high tech industry. This individual loves to talk and tell jokes (some actually manage to make me laugh), but never loses sight of the context of the conversation at hand. We’re talking about how to integrate these attributes into a personal brand.
But let’s say my VP of Sales is interviewing for a position in an old-line, traditional company. The culture of this company is pretty stern – yet very reassuring. It’s a paternalistic organization with top-down management, slow to move and careful with its decisions. Rather than being harsh and judgmental, however, it’s the kind of established company that invests in its employees, taking the long view with its workforce, product and service offerings and market objectives.
The company is very concerned with getting the right fit with every new hire. Wearing my recruiter hat, it’s my role to make sure I recommend candidates who have the right general qualities for success.
At first glance, my funny, engaging, relaxed candidate may not seem like a good fit. But wait – here’s where the personal branding expert hat comes out.
It turns out my VP of Sales is a bit burned out on start-ups. He’s had several servings of Kool-Aid and is at the point in his life where he has come to value consistent performance in a company over high-flying promise. On the other side is the CEO of the company who happens to be my client; I am partnering on retingency with him for a key search. The CEO understands that he needs a VP of Sales who is fast-moving, flexible and smart – and one who can step back a bit to take the long view. He also wants someone who will fit in his board room – someone with poise and polish, a quick intellect, and a sense of humor.
There’s a match to be made, once we align the resume and personal brand with the ‘fit’ requirements of the CEO. The resume is almost there – the VP of Sales candidate knows the industry and its players. But the CEO is wary of people with primarily start-up experience. He’s concerned they’re all looking for a fast exit and tells me he wants to pass on my VP of Sales’ candidacy after viewing his resume.
How do we align these seemingly diverse needs? We look at the brand and personality, or fit, attributes on both sides of the equation.
Here are the personality attributes the VP of Sales has in abundance:
- Ready to be steady
And the fit attributes the CEO is seeking:
- Quick study
- Ability to form connections quickly with prospects
- The ability to think out-of-the-box, with the manner to keep it non-threatening
Looking at these lists, it’s clear there may be a good fit. The next step is an interview, where personality meets corporate culture. My role, of course, is to help both sides win. It’s also important to make sure the VP of Sales’ personal brand can pass further examination.
Here are the issues that must be anticipated:
- The VP of Sales has a classic start-up resume. We need to reinforce his personal brand with longer-term assets. We need to stress his industry community involvement, his professional associations, and tap his long-term mentor for recommendations.
- The CEO is wary of start-up resumes. We need to emphasize the candidate’s results and point to his industry accomplishments.
Here are the points that can be leveraged:
- Both parties are looking for a long-term relationship
- Both parties value intelligence and flexibility
- Both parties put a premium on results
And the issues to be managed:
- Tenure: We coach the seeker to present himself as a ‘keeper’; we point to the long-term dollar and market value of his accomplishments.
- Resume: We advise the seeker to construct his resume to focus on long-range accomplishments, not short-term tasks.
- Personal brand: We advise the seeker to study the target company to identify areas where his personal goals and qualifications match the hiring company’s market goals.
Will personality and fit align? In this example, yes, they did. The CEO recognized the candidate’s intelligence, appreciated his offbeat humor and understood the long-term value he had contributed to his previous employers. The candidate saw a world of promise and potential in the CEO and his company, backed by a solid track record. Basically, they had great collegial chemistry once they actually met in person and we all moved away from the world of ‘theory = just looking at the resume’.
Does it always work out this way? Not always, of course. That’s why it’s so critical, as a candidate, to build a brand that authentically showcases accomplishments, ideas and personality, in an industry or domain context where you’re comfortable and accomplished. And for hiring executives, it’s critical to look beyond the resume to see the whole person(!): values, brand, integrity and fit.
Guest Blogger: Meghan M. Biro, founder of TalentCulture, is a globally-recognized expert in talent acquisition, creative personal and corporate branding and new media strategies that accelerate talent acquisition.
Photo Credit, Tanakawho