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Bring your "A" game

July 30, 2009
by kate
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Yesterday, a popular HIT industry blog called out an error-filled job posting for a hospital CIO. This blog has carved out quite a name for itself by presenting key news items and offering honest — though often critical — comments on everything from CPOE implementations to vendor layoffs to legislation. While I often find the site to be a tad judgmental of those who are in the trenches doing the actual work, I do sometimes agree with the observations.

Like, for example, the aforementioned job listing. The short paragraph was so fraught with mistakes that I seriously doubt anyone actually reviewed it.

And it got me thinking. The pieces of advice most often given to job hunters are to act like a professional and to avoid careless errors. We’re told to proofread, double-check, re-proof, and then have a friend read all cover letters, resumes and thank you notes. We’re strongly advised to do our homework, dress the part, arrive on time (early, but not too early), think over our responses carefully, provide intelligent answers, and make sure we don’t commit any sins like — heaven forbid — having spinach in our teeth (or what I call, pulling a George Costanza).

In other words, bring your “A” game. Because what employer wants a candidate who dresses like a slob, shows up late, blurts out quick answers, makes countless grammatical errors, or emulates Costanza in any way?

Probably no one, especially in this economy.

However, I think it needs to go both ways. Sure, the job market is weak, and as a result, we’re seeing increased competition for all types of positions. But I still believe that employers need to make an effort as well. If you want to attract top-notch candidates, you must also bring your “A” game. And that means doing your homework (maybe taking a glance at the resume before sitting down with the candidate), dressing the part, making sure you’re on time for the interview, and drafting a clean job description — or at least running it through spell check.

You wouldn’t expect any less from the person you’re looking to hire, right? I say, if you want to attract the best, you need to be the best.

But that’s just my two cents — what about the career experts out there? What do you think?




I couldn't agree with you more! It's all about mutual respect. It's a small world out there in the land of Healthcare IT - the employer of today could very well be the job-seeker of tomorrow, so it's neither wise nor compassionate to treat prospective employees with anything less than professionalism and consideration from the time of the job posting to the moment when an offer is made. Or it isn't.

Your post, Kate, and Joe's insightful comments, remind me of that Aesop's Fable about the Lion (Employer) and the Mouse (Job Seeker):

Once when a Lion was asleep a little Mouse began running up and down upon him this soon wakened the Lion, who placed his huge paw upon him, and opened his big jaws to swallow him. "Pardon, O King," cried the little Mouse: "forgive me this time, I shall never forget it: who knows but what I may be able to do you a turn some of these days?" The Lion was so tickled at the idea of the Mouse being able to help him, that he lifted up his paw and let him go. Some time after the Lion was caught in a trap, and the hunters who desired to carry him alive to the King, tied him to a tree while they went in search of a wagon to carry him on. Just then the little Mouse happened to pass by, and seeing the sad plight in which the Lion was, went up to him and soon gnawed away the ropes that bound the King of the Beasts. "Was I not right?" said the little Mouse.

MORAL: Little friends may prove great friends.


I think you're right. All human relationships are reciprocal over time. If anyone has genuine dislike or contempt for another person, over time, that other person is unlikely to develop respect and appreciation in return. That's why it's so critical for each of us to find and develop genuine compassion for everyone in our lives. That takes smarts and effort.

The implications for career management, retention and recruitment follow directly. Candidates (job hunters) will be much more attracted to smart, prepared companies that are clearly compassionate. That can start with the job listing.

Same thing applies to retention, by the way.  Employees will leave a non-compassionate employer when they can; it in fact drives people out of companies.  According to one senior VP of HR of a multi-billion dollar, multi-national company who recently told me, "when people leave, the majority of the time it's because they disliked their immediate boss."

Since communication is what the listener or reader does, the burden is on the employer to produce an effective job description. The job listing you described is telling.

My experience over the years as a hunter and a huntee is that hiring companies are often in distress. Part of why they use retained search firms is that they don't have the energy (and sometimes skill) to do a coherent search. That is, in fact, part of why they often need to do the hiring ... to build the core bench strength.

Your "Bring your A game" message is echo'd and elaborated in this wonderful audio podcast:

Especially in this time of high unemployment and budget freezes, hiring effectively is more important than in less pressured times. This is no time for short cuts or the B game.

Thank you Joe for passing along the link, and thank you Gwen for the fable.
It just goes to show that no matter what the job market may look like, respect is always a critical factor, and that it works both ways, especially at the beginning of a work relationship.