October 17, 2013

Target Practice

From the time I was age 10 until I was 15 - I went to summer camp where my favorite activity was archery. It was a skill that I was determined to master. When you first attempt archery the arrow misses the mark completely. Arrows fly over, around and into the dirt in front of the target. Over time, with focus and practice I got better. Each day I got a little closer to the target until my arrows started hitting the hay bale, then the rings on the target and finally the center of the target.

In life, much like in archery, you need a target to aim for… goals to help you focus. There are tons of questions that need to be answered before you start your job search if you want the arrow to land dead center on the target.

What do you want in life? What do you want to accomplish? What kind of job do you want? Where do you want to live? What kind of company is doing something you can get behind?

If you just want a job – you have disadvantaged yourself at the outset. Most companies don’t want to hire someone who "just wants a job." They want someone who has a passion to do what they do and who really wants to be there.

The first questions an employer will ask you are "What are your goals?" "What are your interests?" "What are your strengths?" and "Why are you interested in our company?"

They are trying to find out if your goals, interests and skills fit with the company’s needs and mission. Can you do the work, and are you passionate about what they do? If not they are not going to hire you.

It is way too expensive for a company to have to let you go after they have spent time and money hiring and training you. They will spend up to $100,000 hiring and training you only to find out it was a mistake.

Altec Industries in Dixon, California just hired three engineers and will hire two more in the near future. According to Brad Dahl, Altec Operations Manager, "We want a long term relationship with anyone we hire. When there is a bad fit we lose credibility with our customers and with the shop crew. This is a small operation and we need people to fit in." Matt Burrell, Altec Engineering Manager agreed, "What we do is unique so we are very careful about who we hire."

You are much more likely to be hired by an employer if you can show passion - a pattern of interest in a field that matches their industry.

I worked with an electronics engineering grad who was struggling in interviews. He was focusing only on his degree and chasing any company that hired electronics engineers. I told him to target his search towards his passion. As soon as he focused on what he loved he aced the interview. He had built his first computer in high school as a 4H project. He thought it was unimportant but when he shared the experience in his interview - Hewlett Packard thought it was a huge deal. He demonstrated that he had the right stuff – the knowledge, interests, skills and a passion that fit with HP’s mission – building computer equipment.

What makes you valuable to a particular employer? What do you love? That is your passion – Take aim and let your arrow find the target.