As the CEO of an executive search firm, and an ‘old-timer’ in the industry I’ve seen and heard most tips and advice over the years, on how to secure that dream job. Much of that advice centres around how you can tailor your pitch and truly ‘connect’ with your interviewer. Do your research, find out their hobbies, likes and interests and use that information in your interview. At face value that makes some sense, human nature is that we are flattered when someone pays an interest in us, it’s also true that we love hearing (and talking) about ourselves.
But as this research referenced in the Harvard Business Review shows, and which is also validated by my 25 years in the industry, a false or faked interest has many issues. Not least of which when you are trying to fake interest, and remember ‘stuff’ to impress, you are not able to perform well. You are off kilter, and even if you have researched well, it still sounds fake and comes over as obsequious. Unless of course you have in front of you a vain and shallow potential boss who lacks self-esteem and strength, but is that the boss you want? (Full article from HBR https://hbr.org/2020/02/research-it-pays-to-be-yourself )
Be yourself, be curious. As the great Dale Carnegie said, ‘To be interesting, be interested.’ If you really want to stand out from the crowd, ask great questions and listen. Really listen, with curiosity, and genuine interest.
Of course the other issue is, do you want to work somewhere, or for someone, where you can’t be yourself, and you’re not recognised for yourself and what you and only you can bring to the job or company? I appreciate that I, like most if not all of you reading this, are fortunate enough to not have to take any job just to put food on the table. Something we should be grateful for. But also something we should not forget, or fail to take advantage of. Your career is important. You are important. Life is too short to not be inspired by, let alone to like your job. You spend more time at or thinking about work than any other part of your life.
You have a responsibility to yourself and your family and loved ones to align your work and your values, for them to be congruent.
And that means being authentic, being truly yourself, and working hard to find an employer, or an opportunity to be you. To find a place where you, your values, skills, experience, personality and energy are valued and sort. Don’t sell yourself short.
At Hyperion Executive Search we work hard to find clients that inspire us, and that value us, and the people they hire. Sometimes that means walking away from ‘business’, but that’s OK. It’s better than OK, it’s great. It means as a team and as individuals we can all be inspired, and do our best work, because our values, interests and goals are aligned with our clients. We help our clients to find the exceptional talent they need to grow, and quite often who they hire, isn’t who or what they first thought they wanted. Because we can see through the ‘song and dance’ routines, just as those in the research examples could. We find the authentic person inside. Do yourself a favour, just be the best version of you.