I had the good fortune this week to recommend a colleague for an open position. She’s so wonderful – smart, a calm and efficient negotiator, and most of all, a kind team member.
As I was writing the recommendation, I thought of one of my former bosses, who had once worked in a small team at an Entertainment company. When it came down to matching skill or personality against a job description, she mentioned offhandedly that personality always won out. Even though they were trying to fill a specialty job, some of the most skilled people they met were actually among the worst candidates. Arrogant. Individualistic. And just plain unlikeable.
Several years ago I heard Lois Frankel speak, and she mentioned she usually carries a portfolio so she can take detailed notes. In difficult meetings, she’ll often take the time to think of a few characteristics she’d like to exude, what many would call her “brand”, or at least her brand for the meeting. She’ll write them at the top of the page in smaller type. As she’s taking notes, she’s able to glance at those words, simply checking in to see if she’s meeting her goal.
You get the idea. It’s a great trick to have up your sleeve, and an especially good tactic when emotions run high. Even if you don’t outline them for every meeting, it’s a good practice to think of how you’re working from day to day. You never know when those qualities will help you down the line, like getting you connected with a new job.
As my former boss once laughed, “You can train someone to do a job; you can’t teach nice.”