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It’s All About My Skills… Right???

image In a job hunt, I often hear job seekers complain about not getting a job even though they were a “perfect fit”. Maybe they had done exactly the same kind of work at a competitor. Why wouldn’t they get hired for this position?

I usually don’t have to talk to them very long, before it becomes obvious why they didn’t get the job, and usually it has nothing to do with their skills!

Employment history, track record of advancement, effective communication, quality of presentation, and attitude often far over shadow their technical or functional skills for the role. The most evident and most important of these is Attitude!

Too many times people go into interviews, or have networking conversations with the idea that all they have to do is show they can do the job, and nothing else matters. They complain about their former employer, or co-workers. They complain about the fact that they got laid-off even though they were “key” to their employers’ business. They complain about their current circumstances, or about the economy. They complain about the weather. They complain about the things they didn’t like about their last job. They complain about companies or recruiters that don’t call them back. They complain about the amount of competition for each job. Basically… they complain!

As a recruiter, as I interview someone and they start to complain about something, sometimes they catch themselves and say “I’m telling you this, but wouldn’t say that in an interview with an employer.” Too which, I already know that they will. They always do. They can’t help themselves. They have a bad attitude and it will come across to everyone they talk to (debriefing with my client after an interview, I’m almost always proven right).

A positive attitude is one of the most important assets, and one of the most difficult things to maintain in a job search. A bad attitude is one of the biggest killers to getting a new job. No one is interested in hiring a complainer, or a pessimist, or a constant fault finder. It’s critical for you, as a job seeker, to check your attitude, how you convey your attitude, and change your attitude on anything that comes across negatively.

Determine what you have a bad attitude about. Maybe you feel wronged by being let go from your previous job, or you really did work for a bad company or have a poor boss. Maybe you really have gotten a ‘raw deal’ in your professional or personal life. Maybe you’re acting out because of fear of the job search process, or financial pressures, or relationship issues.

Whatever the issue is, it needs to be dealt with and corrected. Perhaps you need to let go of the wrongs, and forgive. Perhaps you need to face your fears, and often realize they’re not as bad as you’ve made them in your mind. Perhaps you need to work on relationships. Perhaps you need to get right with God. Whatever it may be for you, it must be addressed before you begin your job search process. The time it takes to first address your issues, is less time than it will take to find a job while expressing a bad attitude.

I teach an 8-week job search class. With each new class I spend the first 2 weeks dealing with Attitude. Very often I have a number of people that breeze through this thinking that it doesn’t apply to them. Also very often, I have people come to me in the 6th or 7th week saying “I think I need to go back and re-do the Attitude exercises. That seems to be a bigger issue for me than I first thought.”

Basic skills are important to get a job, however:
Marginal Skills + GREAT Attitude often = “I got the job!”
GREAT Skills + Bad Attitude always = “They hired someone else.”


Anonymous said...

People don't often understand that matching the technical qualifications is just the tip of the iceberg. Think of it this way - The technical skills are enough to get you in the door, now it's up to your background and communication skills to close the deal. If you can stay away from being negative you can give yourself a better shot at the job!

Seth H said...

Harry, great article and one that I immediately retweeted. The best job seeker understands that they are more than just a resume.

Who you know, the connections you've made, and the interpersonal and communication skills you've picked up along the way are just as important (if not more so) than your purely technical skills for a particular job. Having a positive attitude and fitting into the culture of a company can not be underestimated by job seekers or recruiters.

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