Tag Archives: work 2.0

How to find the best jobs and identify the best candidates

A post by the Microsoft blogger J.D. Meier on Job Creation got me thinking.

The original article that J.D. refers to in Strategy+Business introduces the book by Jim Clifton, the Coming Jobs War.

Whereas the book focuses on the need to create good jobs, J.D.’s post builds on this by drawing out a key aspect of work that is often missed in many jobs – the need for entrepreneurism. In his role, J.D. sees this as a core capability, but this is a far from a common occurrence – either in job descriptions or in the CVs of the applicants.

– Most job descriptions give detailed breakdowns of the exact tasks and functions to be completed and the experience needed. This is reinforced at review time as we are measured against the yardstick that was defined a year ago, often with little regard for whether the world has changed.

– Most applicants CV’s cater to these by listing what they have done, and where they have done it, but they struggle to communicate passion for what they care about, and find it hard to communicate their potential.

And we wonder why this isn’t working.

What we are failing to recognise is that the tighter the job description, the smaller the space the person has in which to leverage their own passions, skills and experiences to improve the role. Instead of setting a high bar, the job description too often becomes a ceiling on what is achieved. The job description becomes an innovation killer. For the individual, the inability to improve the position, to help shape the role, to raise the bar on what is possible moves us further and further away form this being a ‘good’ job.

It is here that J.D. gives the solution.

– Include entrepreneurism as a core requirement of the job.

Of course there will be a set of core skills that are required in any position, but don’t become obsessed on trying to define everything.

Define the need to grow, shape and improve the job as an essential skill.

Instead of defining a known set of tasks, define a desired outcome and invite candidates to share how they would meet that challenge.

Let candidates share their passion and experience to enthuse you with how they will embrace the challenge. Give them the trust, support and confidence to invent, to design, to imagine, and critically to contribute. This is entrepreneurism. This is what makes a good job.

Abraham Maslow knew this when he wrote about the Hierarchy of Needs in 1943.

If you define a job as a series of functional tasks, it is defined at the ‘safety’ level. The one above food and water.

That is not a ‘good’ job. It is a job.

Work = pay. That’s it.

But there is another way.

If you focus on problem solving, creativity and provide the freedom for expression, you are describing self-actualisation, the ability to be who you are – the very top of Maslow’s pyramid.

If a job is to be a good job, as Clifton correctly says is needed, then we need to stop seeing work as a series of functional tasks and more as opportunities to use our talents to achieve common goals. This applies to all jobs. It isn’t about the status of the job, it isn’t about the income either (although the pay should be equitable).

Successful companies already know this, but as applicants continue to outnumber available positions, job descriptions are again becoming increasingly detailed as companies seek out the ‘best’ candidate. They don’t get them of course; inevitably they get the person best able to craft a CV that tells you what you want to know. This is a valuable skill, but is not the one that is going to make the appointment successful.

The best candidates know that unless they can leverage their talents, their skills and experiences, it is simply a job, not a good job. It may be well paid, it may have good benefits (and these are important), but it is going to be unfulfilling and they will ultimately be unhappy there.

This is why people can be paid a lot of money and be utterly miserable.

This is also one explanation why employers can be inundated with CVs but still fail to find candidates that capture their attention or spark their interest. The paradox is that the tighter they define the job description, the less chance they have of finding the candidate that they are really looking for.

So tips for employers and applicants. 

Employers – If you want to attract the best candidates, pose a challenge, define the direction, not the path. Seek creativity, innovation and passion. Leave space in the description for a candidate to interpret the role. Purposely define a ‘good job’. It takes time, you need to see a lot of candidates and this costs more money, but the end result is positive for the employer and the employee and will be repaid in commitment and results many times over.

Applicants – Don’t just describe what you have done. Of course, cover this, but focus on what you can do. Communicate what drives you, what you are passionate about and what you want to achieve. Link your passion to your achievements. This won’t work with all job applications, but when you do find a job, you know they have hired you because they want you. And you will have a good job.



5 rules for surviving Work 2.0

Seth Godin gets it spot on, again.

An article on Business Insider says it all …

If You’re An Average Worker, You’re Going Straight To The Bottom

Welcome to the New Reality. Welcome to Work 2.0.

Or perhaps, welcome back to Work 2.0, because we have been here before. We are here everytime economies tighten.

And for most people, it isn’t fun.

There are going to be two groups of people in most companies – stars and everyone else.

Guess which one you NEED to be in.

We have seen the Jack Welch 10/70/20 model around for a while and several companies are using this (with varying results), but what Seth points to is a more simple model. Star or not. You are either someone a company values, someone who is a key player or you are a hired hand.

Hired hands get utility pay (not average, you get what they can get away with paying you), no security, no perks and no enjoyment. You are a warm, living breathing machine. If the work could be automated cheaper than you, it will be.

Stars get perks. They have to work hard, probably harder than the average pool, but they get the benefits as well. And before you think about trading work/life balance, this is only a choice if you are a star. If you are Mr Average, in the everyone else pool, then you have no choice.

Doesn’t sound like fun, it isn’t. Review time will be painful, and you know that several of your colleagues will get the chop. That is the way the model works. Don’t expect fairness. Don’t expect respect. That is reserved for the stars.

So now you know how this works, you can do something about it.

So take control, get a plan, and WORK that plan:

5 tips … I could list hundreds, others have, so go find them. Start with ‘personal productivity’, ‘personal brand’, ‘blah blah blah’. You know the score here. The game is changing though and so are the rules. Some of the options are disappearing. So here are some ideas to help you get out of that average pool.

  1. Get seen. Don’t be anonymous. Think about your personal brand (Tom Peter’s has written loads on this, so go read it). Be the go-to guy for something. You can be a star janitor, a star cook, a star teacher. Stand out from the rest by being the best. Being average = being last. Nice? No, but this is the reality of Work 2.0. You decide where you set the bar. Set it high. Set it higher than everyone else. Yes this means more work, but that is life now. Do the work = keep the work.
  2. Be proactive. Don’t wait for the world to come to you. It won’t. Get out there. Network, go to meetings. Not invited? Be polite and ask to join.  Look for a group that shares your passion. If you reach a dead end, then volunteer your time to help others. Got an excuse for why you can’t? Write it down, then write 5/10/50 ways to get past this. Giving an excuse is like writing a sick note to yourself.
  3. Invest in yourself. Soak up knowledge. Know your domain better than anyone else. Have the answers, know how to get things done. Buy/borrow/download books AND READ THEM. Don’t just read blogs, read books. Understand the detail. Make sure you know what is happening in your domain. Don’t read content online aimlessly, CONTRIBUTE to it. Write your ideas down. This forces you to think through the logic of them and test with others. Find your voice. Writing helps you discover your passion, because no one wants to write about something they don’t care about. The world’s best teachers are online. Watch TED, go to local Universities to watch visiting speakers.
  4. Over-deliver. You know the maxim. Under-promise and over-deliver. Well here is the new one: Under-promise, over deliver, and do this before the next guy. This means that you need to focus. It probably means that you need to give up some of your free time, maybe work a bit extra on the weekend, in the evening. So do it.  Not for everything, but for the work that matters. Work/life balance will take a hit, but losing your job is a bigger hit. The same applies if you are self-employed. Go that extra mile, particularly when you are starting out and building a client base. And a quick tip. Work for the boss/client is your top priority. Always, no exceptions. Never, ever disappoint your boss/client. Good managers will remember this and support you, bad ones will take advantage. Don’t do it and lose the job/client. That is worse. When you have the boss wanting your work, the client demanding your time, then you get the power to negotiate – but not until that happens.
  5. Stay healthy. I know, you are looking at this and saying, ‘what’??? A health message. Yes. Absolutely. Work today is hard. I might like it to be different, but for every great employer with a gym, complimentary massages and free food there are a million average companies, but that is what it is. Get over it. In the current economic climate it isn’t going to change soon. Whether you work for someone else or yourself, hard work is the order of the day. So look after your most valuable asset – your body – both physically and mentally because if you don’t, you will get ill. If you get ill, you lose. Simple as that. Can’t work = no money, no business. So you need to stay healthy. Restrict TV time, limit online activity and make time for your body. Cook fresh food, don’t eat junk, only drink water (never soda/fizz). Keep the alcohol sensible. Walk/run/bike, whatever you want. Get the heart rate up and keep moving about.


So you read this and think, this Work 2.0 thing sucks. Absolutely. It does until you take control of it, get out of the average pool, and either become a star, or run your own business because the one thing you don’t want to be is average.