The New Market.
No better system reflects the state of the job-market than the bane of interviewing and hiring. The process is tedious, difficult, time-consuming and incredibly bias. On average it takes a company 45 days to hire and over 300 hours invested for a single role; on the reverse it can take a candidate 90 days and over 100 hours to find the right fit. There is tremendous demand for great people yet the process has become stagnant and slow – why?
Taking a Step Back.
The modern American consumer has a sophisticated palate, we want organic, we want Apple, we want Tesla, we want vegan and we’re willing to pay for it. Companies are confronted with the intrinsic challenge of building “cool sh** that people want to buy” while simultaneously needing their products to be massively profitable and accessible to almost everyone (ex: the iPhone). Gone are the days when a company can import an inferior product from China stamp their name on it and make billions. So how do you build amazing products that everyone wants? The secret is hiring great people and it is no longer a secret.
Every VC and founder will tell you that a great team is the main ingredient to any successful company. The simple fact that this has become mainstream knowledge has increased the weight and responsibility of every single hire a company makes. An organization that wishes to be massively successful is no longer hiring just anyone for their customer support role, they are looking for an individual that can be trusted to engage with the ever-important customer; one bad email from a customer support rep and you have gone viral with a major PR crisis on your hands. For any company this means even the “simplest” hires require tremendous due diligence. Every employee needs to be the BEST person for the job so that the company can build the BEST products/experiences so that they can become the BEST at what they do. A vicious cycle of excellence.
The Swiss Army Knife.
No two companies hire and evaluate talent the same way, therefore you will never find true consistency in the hiring process. Get an offer from Google but get passed on by Apple. So, what can a candidate do to increase their chances at landing the job they want when there is no true standard in evaluation criteria? A candidate must become a Swiss Army knife.
The Swiss-Army knife is an amazing tool, compact with goodies that makes almost any job easy. Knife, can opener, scissors, magnifying glass, measurement tool – you name it, it has it. What is truly unique about the knife is how easy its value is to understand, when compared to other knifes it is in a category of its own. Simply by looking at it you understand that it has more to offer than any other knife, it brilliantly communicates its excellence and differentiators within its build. Similar to a Swiss Army knife a candidate not only needs to be multifaceted but must be able to clearly communicate these skills.
The second component of becoming a Swiss Army knife is the ability to be multifaceted. You must be able to offer skills that go beyond your core value/asset. While it is impossible for us humans to be good at everything it is entirely possible and necessary for us to be good at more than one thing. As the needs of companies constantly change with technology the ideal candidate has the ability to evolve with those needs and provide value in more than just one domain. Whether you are a stellar manager, communicator, interviewer, or an expert in multiple coding languages your ability to bring value on more than one front makes you nearly irreplaceable and highly desired by employers.
The last and most important component is the Swiss Army knives ability to communicate its value simply and easily. You may be an expert in Java and a world-class manager, but are you able to depict these skills in a digestible manner to any interviewer? It is not enough to just be good at multiple things you must be able to prove it during the interview.
Got the Skills? Prove It.
One easy secondary skill a candidate can perfect is communication. Communication is one of the most sought-after secondary skills in the market, when 100+ interviewers were asked, “what are the 3 most important trait/characteristic you look for while interviewing?” 98% stated “communication” as a make or break evaluation criteria while interviewing. Whether you are an engineer or the host of a silent auction the ability to clearly express yourself will save your company time, money, and headaches. It is also the one skill that is the easiest to evaluate in an interviewing setting. Simply put, the ability to communicate your skills to the interviewer will likely dictate whether or not you get the job.
Interviewing is the gatekeeper to every role you ever want. The majority of time spent in any interview is the candidate speaking about themselves and the problems they have solved as a subject matter expert. The interviewer is evaluating whether the candidate can clearly explain their strengths and past work experience. Can they prove their potential value to the role and organization? Do I the interviewer feel confident that this person can execute? Is the candidate asking the right questions? Will hiring this candidate be a mistake to our mission and goals?
As discussed early on there is tremendous pressure for companies to hire the right people which means interviewers/companies are more likely to err on the side of caution vs. the side of optimism when hiring. The famous saying, “hire slow, fire fast” still holds true, but the reality is no company wants to take the slow route of hiring only to fire quickly. There is so much at stake when hiring that a candidate's only goal should be to embed the interviewer with the confidence.
Becoming an expert interviewee is a secondary skill that can transform your life immediately. Like any skill it takes time and dedication but once mastered it will open almost any door you wish. To get to the point where you are an expert interviewee you need to practice, a lot. Do mock interviews with friends, interview for jobs you do not want, read everything you can about sales and communication, whatever the methodology just practice.
While there has never been more pressure on job-seekers and employers there has also never been the level of resources at one’s disposal. While not all of us have the same level of privilege or access the beauty of this modern economy is the plethora of free resources and interconnectedness available to job-seekers and employers. The resources that exist today empowers the new job-seeker to dictate their performance in a way that was never before possible. Despite the challenges of the new market if you are able to get your pinky toe in the door you have ability to kick it down.