The Wall Street Journal reported a study conducted by scholars at Stanford and Harvard, suggesting that employers are willing to pay more for candidates with high potential and promise than those with actual, proven performance. Is that for real? If so, how can job candidates demonstrate their potential during the interviewing process?
In this study, researchers asked 77 participants to evaluate two hypothetical applicants for a managerial position based on the candidates’ performance on two tests, one measuring a candidate’s leadership potential and the other measuring the actual leadership achievement. It turned out that these 77 participants were more excited with the candidate who did very well in leadership potential but moderate in actual achievement, as compared to the candidate who did very well in actual achievement but moderate in leadership potential. Interesting, but really?
I do not think potential alone can make the cut in job search especially in today’s economy. I tend to agree with Peter Cappelli, a Wharton School professor, on the fact that today’s employers are expecting new hires to immediately do the job. In fact, many employers only consider those candidates who have already had a similar job in hand. In this case, it seems that employers pay more attention to candidates’ actual achievement and work experience rather than assessing their potential.
I remember when I was interviewing for jobs as a doctoral student in 2008 and 2009. One university had great interest in my application. After the phone interview, the search committee believed that I had great potential and wanted to invite me for campus interview. I received a call later, requesting me for a copy of my actual publication(s). Even though I had several papers under review at that time, I was told that they must document at least one actual publication of mine before they could invite me for the campus interview.
Luckily, there were other schools extending an offer to me based on my potential instead of my actual publication record. I very much appreciate those schools, especially my current employer Syracuse University. Over the years, I believe I have shown SU that I can publish in high impact journals in the field.
Now that I compare my personal experience with the study about a job candidate’s potential and actual performance, I recommend job seekers to document their potential in addition to their actual achievement on their resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile. For example, a job candidate can show that s/he is acquiring new skills through projects, training and development programs, and degree in-progress.
How can job candidates “document” and demonstrate their potential in job search? Any suggestions?
Silverman, Rachel Emma. (2012, July 25). Your potential beats actual achievements. The Wall Street Journal, B6.
The picture was downloaded from www.cartoonwork.com.
High Unemployment Rate Does Not Mean an Easier Job for Hiring Managers America added 243,000 jobs in January, which brought down the unemployment rate to 8.3% (Dougherty, 2012). The result was better than anticipated, but it is still expected to take a long time before the number drops to 5% or below. A high unemployment rate means that many people are unemployed. Chances are they are all looking for a job. Then, does a high unemployment rate make recruiting and hiring easier?
HR managers will probably tell you how difficult recruiting and selection have become as they need to find the right candidates in “the sea of applicants.” According to Weber (2012), Starbucks attracted 7.6 million job applicants for about 65,000 corporate and retail job openings last year (about 120:1). Procter & Gamble received almost one million applications for 2,000 new positions (about 500:1).
Many companies have to rely on technology to help screen candidates (as seen in the embedded picture and video). Often, job seekers are asked to submit their online application, which builds a data base for the company. Then, a computer program will help the company screen the résumé or applications with “matched” keywords and relevant experience.
Selected candidates may then proceed to the next steps, such as phone or in-person interview(s), assessment testing, background check, etc. A screening system costs between $5,000 and millions of dollars. With the aids of technology, however, companies can cut down the average cost of hiring a new employee to $3,479 (normally, it could cost $5,000+ for each new hire).
The major pitfalls of this automatic screening system come from its validity and reliability issues. It is possible that machines will make mistakes by screening out some quality applicants and/or include some less desirable candidates.
How useful do you think these automatic screening systems are? What strategies can a company take to ensure that the machine can yield accurate and reliable results?
How can job seekers prepare a résumé and an application letter that match the machine’s selection criteria?
Dougherty, Conor. (2012, January 4-5). Jobs power market rebound: Unemployment dips to 8.3% on Broad Gains. The Wall Street Journal. pp. A1 & A6. Also available online.
Weber, Lauren. (2012, January 24). Your résumés vs. oblivion. The Wall Street Journal. pp. B1 & B6. Also available online. The picture was also downloaded from this side.
Highlighting the Deliverable and Quantifiable Results: A Piece of Career Advice from a White Lodging Manager
Today, Jason Bretz, the General Manager of Hilton Garden Inn Saratoga Spring (White Lodging), spoke in my Hospitality Human Resource Management class and conducted some job interviews on campus. He received his bachelor’s degree in Marketing, but he started his career in the lodging industry upon graduation. I was glad to hear his career advice in class today.
According to Jason, relevant work experience is definitely important, but he is also looking for candidates who can deliver quantifiable results. For example, if a student tells him that s/he worked at the Front Desk, Housekeeping, or any position in a hotel, he knows what kind of work the position is involved. As a result, a resume that simply lists a person’s job responsibilities does not help this candidate stand out from the crowd. It becomes critical that a job candidate can describe how much impact s/he has made at work. More specifically, it will be helpful to see a statement like “increased sales/revenue by 10%,” “reduced costs by 20%,” “increased GSS (Guest Satisfaction Surveys) Score from 90 percentile to 95 percentile,” and etc. Employees may not have the access to the statistics, but they may can their managers before putting the information on their resumes.
Thoughts and Advices from Three Hospitality Professionals (Jason Bretz’ previous campus visit in the spring).
The picture shows a White Lodging property — the J.W. Marriott Hotel in Indianapolis, which was downloaded from the hotel’s web page.
A cover letter is as important as a resume. If you are asked to complete an online application, which is the norm of these days, chances are you need to submit a cover letter together with your resume. We discussed how to prepare a good resume before. Today, we are going to share some suggestions on how to write an effective cover letter.
1. Be concise and specific. From the first paragraph (two or three sentences), you need to inform the readers of who you are, what your biggest strength or your qualification(s) is, for which position you are applying, and from which source you heard about this opening.
2. In responding to what the company is seeking, use one or two paragraphs to highlight your significant achievements, relevant work experience, and leadership skills. It does not have to be long, but measurable results are preferred.
3. Show your great interest to the job and the company with a brief closing statement, such as thanking a recruiter for his/her attention, requesting for an interview, and asking what next step(s) of the screening process is.
4. No matter how long a candidate’s resume or curriculum vitae is, a cover letter must be a one-page, 3-4 paragraphs document.
5. It must be a perfect statement because it creates the first impression.
6. Keep a copy of every cover letter you sent because you may want to check what you have said about yourself in the future.
Do these suggestions seem useful to you? What are your suggestions?
Picture was copied from http://www.cpsu.org.au/campaigns/news/10147.html
I see resumes as a personal statement that highlights a person’s achievements over time. Accordingly, a good resume can be “personal,” where the person needs to make the ultimate decision on what should be included in the document. Meanwhile, a good resume must demonstrate a person’s qualification(s) for a targeting job with “quantifiable” achievements and “outcomes.”
In my Leadership and Career Management class, I teach students how to write an efficient resume. In general, I make the following suggestions to college students:
- Objective is NOT necessary because a vain objective is a useless statement while a specific objective narrows a person’s career options. A specific objective may work if a person is exceptional and has interest in only one particular career option.
- In terms of education, information of high school diploma, the department name or the college name is not important. However, the university that issues the degree, the degree itself, major(s) or minor(s), and expected graduation date are important.
- In addition to using action words in describing professional experience, it is critical to “quantify” a person’s work and demonstrate the “results” of this person’s effort. If a student participated in a marketing campaign, recruiters want to know how many attendees the student or the team attracts. How much money does the student or team make in the end? It is good to know if a student works hard, but it would be even more impressive if a student’s work makes contributions or creates significant outcomes.
- Leadership should become a “watermark” of a student’s resume. A student can demonstrate his/her leadership skills by showing a progressive career path over years or through the leadership roles a student takes at work or in extra-curricular activities.
- When listing skills, please only list the skills that will set a person apart from other candidates. Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint are old technologies, and every college students should be very efficient in these tools. So, they are not important. However, Proficiencies in Microsoft Visio, Microsoft Project, Photoshop, Prezi for presentations, Java Design etc. could be important.
What are your suggestions?
Picture was downloaded from Blog.Hrinmotion.com via: http://tinyurl.com/linchikwok09282010P