Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Hiring You is a Business Decision: The Empathy Test

Today we welcome a guest blog post from Todd Hecht, a Recruiter at Orion International and Navy veteran.

Navy Veteran, How to Get Hired, Todd Hecht
Years ago, one of the best things I learned in Navy Recruiting School was the meaning of empathy (not to be confused with sympathy). Empathy is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes without getting emotionally involved. Empathy in your job search can be a great asset. I call gearing your presentation of skills, whether on a resume or in an interview, toward the specific job you are seeking The Empathy Test. So as you read this, try to utilize The Empathy Test and think like the people responsible for hiring you.

One thing job applicants often don't consider is that hiring you is a BUSINESS DECISION and not a personal one.  To most people a corporate recruiter may seem like the gate keeper, but to their company they are cost savers. Their job is to find the type of people that can do the job, are going to be a cultural fit, and have the longevity to grow and prosper with the company. To give you some insight into why this is important to a business, look at it this way:  

On average the Society of Human Resource Management reports it cost a company $4,800 to hire one person factoring in recruitment cost (sourcing/ advertising, etc.). To replace an employee that leaves a company, it costs 120% of that person’s yearly salary to recruit, train, and get a new hire up-to-speed factoring in lost productivity.

Nothing is 100%, but, for the most part, a good recruiter can profile an applicant based off a resume and be pretty close to 80% correct on whether or not that applicant is going to cost either time (which is money) or if they have a high probability of making it through the interview process. Let’s call this the round hole part of the funnel. Square pegs don’t fit round holes, right?

Each individual, each job, each company, and each recruiter is different, but the common denominator is that everyone is looking to fit a round peg in the round hole. The best recruiters know how to make the best matches from the very first contact, which is often your resume.  So, let's focus on the psychology behind this profiling process and what you can do to make the cut. This is helpful not only when you submit your resume, but also when you interview.

As a job seeker, it is your responsibility to make your resume attractive enough to become that recruiter’s (or company’s) round peg. Easier said than done, right? Well, it becomes a little easier if you approach the application process with that specific companies perspective in mind using The Empathy Test.  The most effective way (besides insider information) is to decode the company’s job description for the position for which you are applying. This description can give you valuable information on ways to make yourself more of a round peg. As an example, here is an actual company description I took off of a job posting I found online:

“ABC company is a passionate and dedicated team that prides ourselves on meeting the needs of our customers through technology based solutions and a dedicated focus on providing the highest quality service. We are currently interviewing local candidates for the position of Maintenance Technician. The Maintenance Technician is responsible for troubleshooting and repair of our clients’ equipment onsite at their facilities”.

The average job seeker will take this at face value and focus on the fact that this basic description says maintenance, troubleshooting, and repair. However, decoded to a recruiter this says: We need a good maintenance person, but, equally as important, we need a sharp individual that carries themselves well that can work at our customers' facilities. They must present a solid and professional type image, because they are representing our company. This person should have great customer service skills and a sales type personality.  And oh by the way, since you will most likely have to drive a company vehicle, a clean driving record is a must.  

So how does this apply to your resume or introduction at the interview? Some job seekers might only focus on the tangible skill set required for the job, like maintenance and repair experience.  However, the better candidate will additionally focus on the intangible skills like customer service, sales, professional demeanor, and may even list things like held a Top Secret Security Clearance (good indicator of credit worthiness and responsibility).

One way to go about The Empathy Test with your resume is to print out four things: your resume, the company job description, the company mission statement, and the About Us page from the company website. Now set all four things next to each other and read them carefully, as you never know what information you will be able to pull out of them.

Draw a line from important items in the company's information to areas of your resume you feel match up or lend themselves to what the company would be looking for. Circle every keyword you can find on the job description and draw a line to the word or phrase on your resume. And count keywords that are listed multiple times in the job description, as the ones listed most are the most important to the hiring company. List these as close to the top of your resume as possible and make them as prevalent as possible. Be careful here, though, not to appear to have simply rewritten their job description as your resume. Be honest with yourself about your skills and any correlations to the description.

Now let’s talk briefly about The Empathy Test on your interview preparation. Hopefully, you have read and retained the information from the items you printed out for the resume test. Now it is time for you to do your due diligence on the interviewer. Most recruiters will tell you with whom you will be interviewing. Research them and find out what information you can use to prepare yourself. Find out things like where they went to school, where they are from, how long they have been with the company, their career path within the company, and if they are a veteran.

As I mentioned above, cultural fit should be foremost in your mind. Most interviewers subconsciously hire people who are most like them. Doing your due diligence can help you build a rapport with the interviewer (Rapport + Personality + Likeability = Cultural Fit).

Utilizing The Empathy Test will help eliminate the emotion of a job search and help you to see it more as the business decision it is for hiring companies. Taking this objective view of can help turn a square peg into a round one!

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