The prevalence of the “keyword approach” to selecting job candidates to interview seems to leave a gaping hole in how companies recruit — and it certainly doesn’t reveal the “stars.” There is so much emphasis on “AI,” on algorithms and resume parsing that the important intangibles get lost. I’m sure you’ve seen loads of resumes. What do you look for when you judge a candidate? Is it even on the resume at all? (I’d like to ask every HR person and hiring manager this question!)
Sales managers, more than managers in other corporate functions, are always reaching for the stars and asking this question: What are the early signs of a star performer? The best definition of a star employee was shared with me a long time ago.
Dave Csira, the V.P. of Sales for a computer distributor, told me the three attributes he always looks for are enthusiasm, persistence and intelligence. Every year that goes by I test this combination and find that this set of attributes seems to represent value better than any other, and not just in sales.
You can build your own value by focusing on developing these three attributes in yourself.
To me, your resume isn’t on a piece of paper. (See How to Get A Job: Don’t write a resume.) It’s in your actual work and in the outcome of that work. It’s in the reputation that follows you wherever you go. So, you build value in your reputation by building value into the work you choose to do and in the ways you do it.
The first way to build value is to do work that you want to do. Choices made with enthusiasm produce value because they draw out the best you have to offer. And that’s what any employer is looking for.
Never take a job because it’s there, or because the employer “bought” you with a great job offer. Sure, you may perform well on any of a number of jobs, but unless your enthusiasm runneth over for the work, for the products you work on, for your peers and for your customers, you’ve left value on the table. You could have been doing something that revealed 110% of your talents, not just 90%.
When you describe a past job to a prospective employer, your eyes should light up with genuine enthusiasm. You should be able to describe it as an exploit and an adventure, not as just a job.
Persistence is the tool that turns a job into productive work. That’s what an employer pays for when it hires you. It’s what a good manager looks for on your resume.
The only jobs that don’t get done right are the ones people give up on. “It’s too hard. No one can do it. It’s never been done before. It won’t work. No one will buy it.” You build value on your resume by finding a way to do the job effectively.
Being persistent often means transcending the job description and re-designing the work so you can achieve the goal. You see, jobs themselves don’t matter. (That’s why more of them are eliminated every day.) What matters is work that achieves a company’s goals. Your first job is to re-design your work so that it will pay off. Make that achievement part of your reputation.
The trouble with enthusiasm and persistence is that they’re dumb attributes. You can jump up and down with glee and never stop — but you’ll never produce anything worthwhile unless you are smart. You have to know which end is up, and you have to “know sh-t from Shinola.”
If your resume reveals one thing about you, it’s the choices you’ve made. Choices about which companies to work for, which products to get behind, which people to work with, and which failures to learn from. These choices may seem minor when you’re making each of them, but on your resume the picture of your intelligence crystallizes when your choices are suddenly summarized.
Building “smarts” is largely a function of who you work with day-in and day-out. Even the dumbest among us learn by rubbing elbows with the smartest. Does your resume show you’ve rubbed elbows with the best?
Add up enthusiasm, persistence and intelligence and you come up with accomplishments. But remember: accomplishments don’t tell a story to an employer. They tell only the ending. The proof of your value lies in showing how you got there. When a prospective employer can see these three critical attributes in your reputation and on your resume— that’s when it sees a star. That’s when it knows you can help add something positive to the bottom line.
Can you point to where on your resume an employer can find enthusiasm, persistence and intelligence? Are these qualities evident in your reputation? What are the best ways to communicate these qualities? What other qualities would you add to these three?