Sunday, April 3, 2011

Square Pegs and Round Holes

Last time we talked about interviewing “With Purpose” and left it with the question of how should a candidate go about determining their value to a potential new employer.
I think there are 7 questions a candidate should focus on when considering a new job opportunity.

_1. Can the company successfully compete in its market?
_2. What is the company “culture”?
_3. What are the expected outcomes? How is success measured for this position?
_4. Will I have access to the resources required to be successful in this role?
_5. Do my skills and experience truly qualify me for this position?
_6. Would I hire myself for this position?
_7. What are my other options?

Let’s take 1 & 2 this week.

The first question, “Can the company successfully compete in its market?” seems like a no-brainer; but I talk to candidates every day who find themselves working for companies that are not competitive. The candidate may be well paid, love their boss and think the company culture is great (hey, they took the job for some reason), but then they find out that the company cannot (or will not) deliver the products or services required to compete in the market place. My observation is that, in most cases, an experienced industry professional should have been able to figure this out before taking the job. Frankly, as a headhunter, if I know that an employer is struggling to compete in its market; I tell the candidate. And I tell the employer as well. If a company is in trouble, they better have a great plan to turn things around or you’re only taking a temporary job. If they have no plan or worse yet, are living in denial….walk away. As we say in Texas…you can’t polish a turd.

Number 2, the “Culture”. One of the most overused, least understood terms in business. I suppose as a candidate, whatever you consider to be important in a company’s culture is all that really matters, but company culture is a very big and complex subject. I like this definition: "The specific collection of values and norms that are shared by people and groups in an organization and that control the way they interact with each other and with stakeholders outside the organization.” [1]

We work in the transportation, logistics and supply chain space. It is a very large, highly fragmented market and I cannot think of a sector with more diverse cultures. This is something every candidate should seriously consider. Moreover, ours is an industry where some very successful, highly profitable companies do not have what most outsiders would describe as a healthy culture. Maybe a high functioning cult, but not a healthy culture. Know who you are, how you deal with people and how you like to be dealt with. Don’t join an organization where your style doesn’t fit. It almost never works.

Next time, we’ll talk about questions 3 and 4. In the mean time, before you take that next job…call me.

1. Charles W. L. Hill, and Gareth R. Jones, (2001) Strategic Management. Houghton Mifflin.

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