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.
This month’s HR Magazine reported two interesting studies about self-promoter and self-deprecator. They are:
- Leaders who rated their skills significantly higher than the ratings given by their bosses are six times more likely to derail than those who have a more realistic view of their work performance, according to a study with 39,000 global leaders.
- While the self-deprecators are less likely to derail than self-promoters, they are also less likely to advance than those who are in touch with their actual work performance, according to Louis Quast, associate chair of the Organizational Leadership, Policy and Development Department at University of Minnesota. Self-deprecators are often overlooked even though they could be really good performers.
- Another study of 14,000 U.S.-based managers reveals that those seen by their immediate supervisors as lacking in self-awareness and tact were most likely to derail.
I am not sure whether being a self-promoter or a self-deprecator is also a cultural issue. I grew up in Canton, China. When I was a student, I was taught to remain humble all the time. Even when I achieved the highest score in class, for example, I learned to say: “I was doing just fine” or “I was doing OK; I could have done better.” If I did not get the highest score (it happened very often if you are interested) but was still among the top 10%, I learned to say: “I did not do well at all, and I must do a lot better in the next exam.” After I lived in the U.S. for a while, I have learned to be less humble and more honest with my true performance, but because I am so used to the idea of “being humble,” I still feel there are times when my potential has been overlooked.
I appreciate the idea of being honest as suggested by this HR Magazine report. It becomes obvious that neither self-promoter nor self-deprecator would get better luck at work. The key is to fully understand our ability and potential and be open to what we are capable of.
Do you believe your cultural background plays a role in making you more or less a self-promoter or a self-deprecator? How so? Furthermore, should employers consider such influence when assessing employees’ performance? In what way?
HR Magazine. (2012, July). Self-promoters more likely to derail. p. 18.
The cartoon was downloaded from http://baloo-baloosnon-politicalcartoonblog.blogspot.com/2011/09/humility-cartoon.html
I was in three special events last Thursday (03/29) and Friday (03/30). Thursday morning, I invited a senior human resource (HR) manager working in one of the biggest soft drink companies to speak in my HR class. In the evening, I presented in the Etiquette Dinner hosted by the Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA) at Syracuse University. I then attended the 2012 Hospitality Senior Gala Event as a guest on Friday. These three events are different in many ways, but they all remind me the importance of professionalism. When it comes to professionalism, every tiny little detail matters.
Guest Speaker Section in the HR Class
The guest speaker has been working in the HR field for over 10 years. As the HR Business Partner in 2011, she took an active role in merging two big companies into one giant enterprise in the soft drink and beverage industry. Merger means more work for HR. For example, all job descriptions and employee performance must be reviewed, the organizational structure must be redesigned, layoffs (if there is any) must be carefully executed to comply with the employment law and legislation, communications about the merging process must remain transparent to all stakeholders, and strategies must be developed to redefine and nurture a new organizational culture.
While there are already so many things going on in the office, HR managers will also experience more traffic of employees who need assistance, many of whom feel uncertain about their future and want to talk to the HR managers. Being a professional HR, one must comfort the employees who worry about the merger and find time to get the “extra” work done, which entails a lot of attention to details. The most difficult thing, sometimes, is that the HR managers themselves may also feel uncertain about their future, but they must let professionalism drive them. A true professional should deliver and perform 100% until the last minute when they hold the position.
The Etiquette Dinner Hosted by OMA
It was my great pleasure of meeting with a group of student leaders in the Etiquette Dinner. Besides the proper manners for formal dining, I emphasized the three golden rules of dinner etiquette. They include:
- We are not there to eat when going out for a business dinner. The focus is never on the meal. Rather, it is about building a relationship, networking, and selling — either selling a product or service if we are negotiating a contract or selling ourselves if the dinner is part of the interviewing process.
- We must follow the host. We should order the items with a price tag that is less than or similar to what the host orders. More importantly, if a host breaks the proper rules for formal dining, we can either continue to follow the dinner etiquette we know without making a big deal of it or do what the host does. The bottom line for dinner etiquette is to make everyone around the table feel comfortable. For more examples of what I mean by “follow the host,” please visit my previous discussion on dinner etiquette.
- We must be discreet. Everyone deserves others’ attention. The dinner is not about “me” as a guest, and we should not talk loud.
Dinner etiquette covers many tiny little details regarding table manners. We need to know the details because professionalism reflects on our behaviors.
The 2012 Hospitality Senior Gala Event
I felt very proud of our graduating seniors who planned and ran the gala event on Friday. The turnout was great. Everyone had a wonderful experience, and the feedback was phenomenal. But once again, every detail counts in an event. As a hospitality professional, we know that “99 + 1 = 0” — we could have done 99 exceptional things for a guest, but the guest may still end up feeling very upset because of one tiny little thing that went wrong in his/her experience with us. Accordingly, many hospitality professionals pay attention to every detail and always strive for perfection.
So, how do you interpret professionalism? What criteria do you use in evaluating a person’s professionalism?
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.