Monday, 25 July 2011

Thine Own Self

My eldest son started in paid employment today – a strange feeling both of us: for him it’s his first day of genuine independence and for me it’s as though I am losing him a bit, but simultaneously I am proud of him and really want him to succeed.  Life is full of transitions.  I have spent much of the past month advising people who are the cusp of change in their careers.  The more we have talked, the more I seem to find myself telling people that they need to use their knowledge of themselves to help determine the right path for them going forward.  I have also been asked by a number of people how they should write a CV, behave in an interview, be like at meet-the-team sessions, etc...  Without wishing to sound like a hippy, I think Shakespeare’s Polonius in “Hamlet” was right when he said

“This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.”

Let me explain what I mean… 

I have got to know some amazing people on Twitter and on other sites that enable interactive dialogue – I have discovered through personal experience that social networking works best when there is a connection rather than an impersonal effort to impress and/or sell something.  I have begun to make some genuine friends who as/when I need their help will be there or I for them. 

I was intrigued in particular by the complexity of experience and knowledge consistently tweeted by a contact of mine.  Eventually, once we had both ascertained that there were no untoward expectations on either side, only shared interests and an understanding of ways in which we might be able to help each other, we exchanged emails (it can be frustrating explaining your career and approach in 140 character chunks).  He wrote a two page bio for me, explaining the path he has taken and the things he has had to overcome to become the internationally recognized expert that he is.  

Having worked in recruitment and been MD of an international search business, I have read a huge number of CVs over the years – the majority are sterile, close replicas of each other produced to a standard format that actually tells you very little about the person they describe.  Thanks to technology and search engines they are now written to include  buzzwords that will enable recruiters to easily locate appropriate job-seeking individuals.  A whole industry has sprung up offering to write effective CVs and covering letters that will “ensure a foot in the door” or an interview.  There are candidate screening and recruitment software systems that organisations use to collect and collate information about applicants and employees.  Sure it’s convenient, but all of this is turning us into a homogenised commodity with no individuality .  

The bio I was sent by my contact told me more about him than any conventional CV/resume ever could.  It was honest and personal and I gained an understanding of how he responded to situations and setbacks, how he took advantage of opportunities and the things that are really important to him in his life.  The artisanal craftsmanship that went into his explanation of himself was compelling, brave and humbling.  I don’t think I have ever been so candid when describing myself within the work environment.  I learned a lot and I will follow his example when I try to explain myself to others in the future. 

I suppose I’d better respond to his email now…

No comments:

Post a Comment