These four qualities are indeed essential and must be highlighted at every point when you are ready for the job market, these have been adapted from Garrett Miller’s new book, “Hire on a WHIM: The Four Qualities that Make for Great Employees “.
Work ethic: A set of values based on the virtues of hard work and diligence.
How to show it: Describe activities — jobs, assignments, internships, classes, extracurricular activities such as sports teams or clubs — that required intensity, motivation, a sense of purpose, and a strong, passionate desire for self-improvement.
Humility: The ability and willingness to be taught.
How to show it: When talking about your work style, describe a difficult situation when you asked for help. Highlight team and group working scenarios, to demonstrate that you can collaborate. Don’t be shy about discussing an embarrassing moment or an incorrect choice — and emphasize what you learned from it.
Integrity: The innate ability to do what’s right, even when influenced to do otherwise.
How to show it: Share one of your biggest disappointments or failures, and talk about how you took the appropriate level of responsibility for it. Mention an instance of moral ambiguity — and how you handled it. Own your successes and your failures.
Maturity: The quality of seriousness, thoughtfulness, and consciousness in thought and actions.
How to show it: Give the interviewer a sense of how you see yourself years from now, so he or she can gauge how realistic your dreams and goals are. Talk about an experience in life that was particularly important in shaping who you’ve become. Show in your stories and demeanor that you are at ease with people and can navigate through touchy emotional situations.
And we have Garrett Miller here to present his insight on what does it take to get hired in these competitive times and the values that ensure success beyond!
Welcome Garrett, thanks for sharing such valuable tips on getting hired, sure enough these 4 qualities are essential to impress the hiring manager! As the generation Y joins the workplace by thousands and millions what advice do you have for them to hone these skills?
Funny you should ask this first question. My original motivation for writing the book was to help managers hire the Millennials. I had great success with hiring Millennials, while other managers would not touch them with a 10-foot pole because they are “loose cannons and unpredictable.” I struggled reconciling that until I began to analyze the candidates I hired and began to see a pattern in the qualities that they possessed, thus WHIM. When I began to share the book with other professionals, they agreed with my premise but pointed out that these qualities are necessary in every hire, from a college student to the next CEO.
My follow-up book, which is 70% done, is going to focus on helping college students get ready for the right career.
Here are some thoughts.
- It is really important to know where you are going. In my experience, students are graduating from college and then asking, “What do I want to do?” This question needs to be asked years before so that they can begin to focus their experiences and activities.
- My biggest piece of advice is to be busy–but busy with a purpose. Yes, I can be busy mastering Xbox, StarCraft, and expanding my friends on Facebook to 500; those activities keep me busy but don’t grow and stretch me. Being busy with a purpose means getting involved with as many diverse activities as I can. Being busy with a purpose accomplishes two objectives.
- It provides the much-needed experience students are lacking. These experiences can easily be translated on a resume and in an interview into valuable skill-building opportunities.
- It provides you with an opportunity to evaluate your gifts, talents, likes, and dislikes. It’s in the activity of being busy that you begin to find what you love to do; it is rarely found in the classroom. An example is joining the school newspaper and writing. It’s in experiences like this that you may find your love or dislike for writing, reporting, and storytelling. Finding what you love to do and also what you don’t like to do are of equal value. Now I bring that confidence into the interviewing process. When asked the question, “Why do you think you would be good at sales?” the candidate can list real-life experiences that mimic or relate directly to the sales process.
- Candidates also need to master the art of networking. Students spend four years living in an ever-expanding network of friends. Yet many fail to use those same skill sets that they have honed when job hunting. They know how to network — but don’t know how to translate their networking skills into the workplace environment.
Work Ethic — Being busy with a purpose is a great start. Demonstrating that you have been active demonstrates agood work ethic, especially when many of your fellow students have decided not to be.
- Tip: When joining groups and activities, look for ones that require commitment and dedication. These are great opportunities for you to show that you can handle and balance a challenging course load and the demands of extracurricular activities. Charities are always a wonderful way to demonstrate hard work and the maturity to look outside of yourself and help others.
- Tip: Be careful of mentioning activities like the “Entrepreneur Club” if all you did was sign up as a member so that you could receive email blasts. If you were not involved, active, and a contributing member, placing it on your resume could cause you more harm than good.
Humility — defined as the ability and willingness to be taught. One concern many hiring managers have with Millennials is their ability to admit that they don’t know it all. One reason some have speculated that this generation struggles with humility to a greater degree is that this is the generation whose members all received a trophy regardless of their win/loss record, everyone was MVP, and they didn’t get a wrong answer, they got a different answer. If you have been raised thinking that you are the best and that you are smart, talented, and perfect just the way you are then it is very difficult to receive correction or criticism. An example that stands out in my mind was a time that I was working with a young sales rep and at the end of the day we sat down to review the day. While sharing some constructive criticism she began to cry and then told me, “No one has ever spoken to me like that before.” I spoke to her like I had spoken to reps for 10 years. I was completely blown away. I do believe no one had ever carefully evaluated her performance and provided ways that she could improve.
In my experiences I noticed two types of employees, ones who only wanted to hear how good they are, and ones who say, “Yeah, yeah, I know what I did right but how can I improve, what can I do better?” The difference is night and day; one is ready to learn and grow, the other is not.
To demonstrate this in an interview, share experiences where you have grown or been challenged. If you earned a poor grade (notice I said “earned”), own it. Be careful not to blame the teacher, the textbook, or the time of the class. In the end, you earned the grade. I would much rather hear, “You know, Garrett, I just didn’t like the class and really struggled. If I were to do it over again, I would approach the class much differently. In fact, in my junior year I had an equally difficult class but decided to approach this class differently….” This shows someone who has grown and learned from their failures or difficulties.
Integrity — Integrity issues are costing organizations hundreds of thousands of dollars a year and can cause extensive damage to an organization’s reputation as well. To demonstrate integrity in an interview, grades are, again, a great area to demonstrate integrity. Owning mistakes and talking about what you learned and how you grew from them is also a great way to demonstrate integrity.
Have you been involved with activities (again the importance of being busy with a purpose) that require or have a halo effect of integrity? Activities like charities, church groups, religious organizations, serving in officer roles, student government, jobs like working at a bank or a similar situation where trust must be earned and given to the student? I served as VP of the Student Judicial Board at my college. This board was the judge and jury for serious student offenses. The sentences we handed down were meant to correct the individual and protect the student body. Just serving in this capacity allowed the interviewers to easily check the integrity box. If the school trusted me with such sensitive issues, then the interviewer could as well.
Maturity — It’s that quality that suggests to a hiring manager that you are mature beyond your years. This also shares qualities with a similar idea called emotional intelligence. Candidates with maturity have resilience and a deeper emotional reservoir to pull from when there is a crisis or difficult situation. They can take and welcome constructive criticism because they often have humility as well.
Demonstrating maturity is often showcased in how you have reacted to difficult situations and challenges in life. When there is a conflict or when you have been offended, how did you handle it? Were you able to “get over it” quickly and move on, or is there a sense that you have held a grudge? People who lack maturity hold on to issues and don’t let them go. When insulted they remain offended.
I look for times in which they have experienced an unusually difficult event, like losing a loved one, struggling through an illness, or recovering from an accident. How have they responded to life and these circumstances? I have noticed that there are often two responses:
- They remain bitter because of what happened. I hear language like “Only if, shoulda, woulda, coulda.” These candidates live in the past and show that they are not growing from their experiences. I am afraid that these candidates will be those ones who are always crying that something wasn’t fair or giving excuses as to why they were late or couldn’t complete the project.
- The other response is often a long pause followed by “Listen, you may not believe what I’m about to say, but I’m a better person because of it. I became stronger, more thankful, and focused for what I have….” I heard one candidate say that she “Wouldn’t wish this experience on her worst enemy but if I knew that I would become the woman I am today I would do it all over again.” Wow, that is maturity.
You see, the manager you are about to work for can’t teach you any of these qualities. These qualities are valuable because life teaches you them and you either adopt these qualities and they become a part of you — or you don’t. Many of you have these qualities and it’s up to you to weave them into your story. If you’ re concerned that you do not possess a few of these qualities, then get busy with a purpose, and place yourself in situations where you will be challenged with learning or demonstrating each of them.
How can a candidate present these qualities when he/she has no previous work experience?
Several valuable ideas were presented in the above discussion but the idea that is worth repeating is each candidate must be busy with a purpose. Always strive to put oneself in new areas and environments. By doing this, you open yourself up to experiencing skills, talents, likes, and dislikes that will help you focus and discover who you are.
Keep in mind that companies can teach you skills, but what they can’ t teach you is WHIM. Experiences are valuable, but don’t equate “experience” as only being “work experience.” Ask anyone who volunteers full time for a charity, and they will tell you volunteering is a full-time job!
When addressing the activities that one chooses, make sure you highlight the training that was involved, the responsibility and trust that was needed. Share the hours you dedicated to the group, cause, or activity. If you paint these in the correct manner, you may hear, “Wow, so when did you have time to go to class?” If you hear this, you have built credibility with the interviewer. Now it’s time to bring out the features and benefits of each experience.
In your book Hire on a WHIM: The Four Qualities that Make for Great Employees (2010,www.HireonaWHIM.com) do you also address the point of view of hiring managers on what they look for in a prospective employee?
The entire book is a discussion between two hiring managers and why they see these qualities as important and what questions to ask in order to uncover the qualities. There are also two chapters on what managers are looking for on a resume and how to properly evaluate a resume.
The characters also discuss what to look and listen for and what type of questions will illicit the desired responses.
We believe that if someone is looking to hire the next CEO, they must read this book. But also that if someone will soon be interviewing for a job, they too should read the book because when they know what the hiring manager is looking and listening for, they can position their talents, skills, and experiences in the best light.
About Garrett Miller:
Garrett Miller is a workplace productivity coach and trainer, keynote speaker, and author of Hire on a WHIM: The Four Qualities that Make for Great Employees (2010, www.HireonaWHIM.com). He is president and CEO of CoTria, a company that provides time-saving solutions to help clients manage more efficiently, and is known for his extensive experience in hiring, training, attracting, and retaining top talent.