"We’re here to do it better than anybody has ever done it before"

This is the part where I post something about college football and relate it to my work. Because college football is coming and I can't wait. Looks like I'll get to 3 games this year thanks to my dad. You know the inevitable Heather-at-a-football game picture is coming. It does every year. This year, I hope it's at our victory over UCLA (whoah, did I just capitalize that? That was nice of me).

Anyway, how it relates to work...this is the kind of stuff that is going through my head constantly...there's no good way to turn it off. The press is talking about USC being #1 in the pre-season polls again. For those of you not very experienced in this space, it has to do basically with a very strong team from last year with returning starters and some good years of recruiting that have produced an awesome depth chart. So we lost a running back last week....he was third on the chart. Happens. Pre-season polls are a marketing gimmick (what? Like college rankings? Shocking!); polls are irrelevant until you really get into the season (4 games, 5 games in?). What looks good on the practice field doesn't always look the same on game day.

I never really like going into the season as #1. Number 1 is supposed to be infallible. They are "expected" to be great and every mistake is given more weight. There's nowhere to go but down in the polls. A loss-free or one-loss season is what people expect. The press promotes egos. Egos make mistakes. In the meantime, people root (route? doesn't look right) for the underdog. The best you can do at #1 is stay #1.

The relevance for staffing has to do with who looks good on paper (resume = pre-season press) and who ends up actually being good (the season). We've had discussions here recently about the resume as a tool to get noticed and I do think that some people have perceived it as the thing that gets you the job. It doesn't. It just gets you eyeballs. You still have to get the ball into the end zone and through the uprights. At the end of the season it shouldn't matter where you were ranked pre-season, it should matter what you did on the field (it would be nice to think it was this apolitical...again, I hate the pre-season polls).

As a job seeker, I think the best thing that you could do to prepare for your "season" is review the game tapes, uh, I mean job descriptions; and really focus on finding the opportunities that best match your background. Same goes with potential employers...find the one whose culture best matches your needs (I think corporate culture is hugely underrated as a selection criteria for the job seeker). I'll stop with the football analogy now. But let's just say that championships are won on the field during regular season play (OK, now I am really done).  

I always say that the best way to get the job is to be the right person for it. So I just want to say, for the record, that all this talk about resumes is akin to the pre-season blather about rankings. I'm totally paying attention but it's not the most important thing. Are you going to move up to number one when you are outside the pre-season top 20? Not likely (so get that resume shiny!). But what separates the good and the great is about performance when it counts.

 PS: I'm thinking about Virginia Tech as they are starting their school year. I've always really liked Frank Beamer, partly because he seems like a great guy and partly because I love special teams play. If they were playing my Trojans, we would have to beat them, but I am hoping they have a great season after all they have been through.

Comments (7)

  1. Bad_Brad says:

    Good post, Heather.  I’ll draw one more analogy.  I’ve always said that it’s okay for a team to lose a game because the opponent had more talent (i.e. was stronger, faster, deeper, overall better).  But there is no excuse to lose a game because the team was not prepared (i.e. the team did not realize how good or how fast the opposing QB is).  Similarly, if you are a young job-seeker, you may lose out on an opportunity because there is someone out there with more or better experience and more or better educational credentials.  And that’s okay, in fact, that’s to be expected.  But there is no reason to ever lose out on a great job opportunity because you were not prepared.  If you go into a formal (i.e. beyond informational) job interview for a position you really want and you have not at least researched the latest news on the company and read the company’s public financial statements and prepared some well-thought-out questions for the interviewer based on that, then you haven’t done your homework and you are not prepared.  And there is no excuse for that.

  2. HeatherLeigh says:

    Totally agree! It’s a minimum requirement to be prepared!

  3. Dirk Bailey says:

    I just picked up on your blog Heather (from a reference in a hardcover book I’m reading by Debbie Weil "The Corporate Blogging Book"). Refreshing discourse! I love your football to staffing analogy and related comments. It’s rare for folks in my company’s industry to see a blog, much less value it – although I’m trying to break that stereotype.  Formerly of HP history, my current company manufactures those annoying, beeping backup alarms and sells them to parts counter jockeys with few higher interests than Nascar weekends! I’m determined to start a corporate blogosphere at our company (internally and externally) and I’m taking much encouragement from what I read on yours. Thanks for being there!

  4. HeatherLeigh says:

    Ah, Dirk, thanks for saying that! First of all, I had no idea about Debbie Weil’s book. I’l have to check it out. All I can tell you about my blogging experience is that you kind of figure it out as you go along. It’s kind of when you start a sentence hoping that you figure out what you are trying to say when you get to the end of it. Only the sentence goes on for a really long time 🙂

    Also, I don’t find those back-up beepers annoying at all. I can’t tell you why but as far as noises go, I’ve got no problem with those. Maybe it’s because nobody really backs up for any period of time. Nascar, I don’t understand, but those beeper things are fine with me!

  5. Yulia says:

    Heather, you might be right with your reflections on the resume and the actual performance. At the same time, it seems like it is almost impossible to break through the wall of recruiters at Microsoft even with a great resume and a solid performance record. I have been applying to Marketing jobs since January this year – the best that fit me, according to my beliefs and your point on matching, but it feels like I am applying into a dark black hole in a space that occasionally gets caught by the recruiters who ask basic questions and never follow up or inquire about the performance and successes? Why I am applying? I was so excited by what some of the MSFT folks I interviewed at various industry events and I liked what they say about the company, culture and what they do – primarily in marketing that I wanted to become part of this community. Even with all the passion and persistence of relevant 10 applications per day, it seems to be impossible and I know I am a very valuable asset. Am I doing something wrong? Or is the company too big that you have resources in house and the job board is only for a show? Any suggestions?

  6. HeatherLeigh says:

    It sounds like if the recruiters are engaging with you, they had some initial interest in your background but after asking some questions, have decided that you are not a match for the position(s). Without being on the phone call, I can’t tell what is going wrong on the calls, but I’d just assume that a match is ot there. The career site is not just for show. The fact that you have had any contact from recruiters shows that.

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