My Facebook feed is filled with friends celebrating graduations and Summer interns are starting to fill the touch-down spaces at work. Are you on the hunt for a great job? In June, we’ll talk about how to use Soul Boss competencies in your work life in the series Just Watch.
The series title is cribbed from a line from “Uptown Funk”: “Don’t believe me, just watch.” In just a few words, it captures what we all crave. Stop the yabba, yabba and give me some authenticity. This month we’ll explore topics like self-awareness, maturity, and intention and how they relate to your day job. By the time July rolls around, you won’t be tempted to smack talk your way out of a jam. You’ll have plenty of soulful skills to ensure your actions speak louder than empty chatter.
Young Adult author Laurie Halse Anderson tweeted a funny observation from her current Australia and New Zealand book tour. “My favorite Australian phrase so far: someone described a teenager who was in a really bad mood as being a “big cactus.” Works on so many levels.”
When I read Laurie’s tweet, I was reminded of a recruiter question: “Who are you under stress?” I struggled to give her a poised answer before I turned into a big cactus. Was she probing simply about how I acted when I had a pile of work, or was she really trying to gauge how much I knew about myself?
LearnVest founder, Alexa von Trobel, is no interview softy. A key question for her 150 employees? “Walk me through your resume, particularly why you changed from one job to the next.”
New York Times reporter Adam Bryant quizzed her about the now-standard biggest strength/biggest weakness question. “But don’t people try to spin a weakness into a strength, as in, “I work too hard and I’m a perfectionist?””
Alexa had a quick response. “If they don’t give me a real weakness, I’ll tell them about mine…And I’ll ask them again, “What are you genuinely bad at? What does your spouse or partner or the person you’re dating tell you you’re bad at? Because if they haven’t told you, then you shouldn’t be sitting here because I can’t work with you if you don’t know what you’re bad at.”
Hmmm…are Alexa’s questions making you feel a little defensive? Are you already dreaming of ways to minimize or gloss over some difficult moments? Answers have to do more than sound good; they have to be credible.
She finished with an important insight. “I don’t think people’s weaknesses are bad at all. We all have them. I have tons, and I’m not going to discredit you for having them, but I think that not being aware of them is dangerous.”
This week, your homework is to use the core Soul Boss principle of self-awareness every day. Whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned pro, understand and make peace with the mistakes or gaps in your resume. When you own the potholes as well as the pinnacles of your career, you can leave justifications behind. Don’t be a big cactus!