As graduating students, job seekers, and current employees look to advance their careers, the only certainty is that opportunities will not be found doing business as usual. We asked several experts to give us a glimpse into what fast-trackers can expect.
16 If the employee fits, hire’em “Companies are increasingly focusing on an employee’s fit with the corporate culture,” says Sharon Hall, managing director of the Atlanta office at executive search firm SpencerStuart. “Many companies are requiring psychological evaluations even before they interview a candidate.” A candidate with stellar credentials may land an interview only after passing one or two tests that measure his or her compatibility with the culture of the firm.
These tests mostly determine work style.
Candidates tend to focus solely on their resumés and the bios of the interviewers, and not on how the company operates or how marketplace demands affect the culture, says Hall. “Candidates should start thinking ‘What’s my style? Be aware of who in the culture succeeds and why.”
17 Keep it moving—laterally Moving up is the goal for most professionals. However, candidates with broader work experience are going to be more marketable, according to Marlon Cousin, managing partner of The Marquin Group in Atlanta. That means seeking opportunities to move horizontally across industry and function.
“Now we need our top leadership to gain a different skill set,” he explains. “We’re telling our candidates, ‘I need you to go from sales and make a lateral move to marketing, and maybe to another functional area.’” Larger companies are beginning to make these recommendations to employees, and some are providing such training in their developmental programs. “They’re trying to do more with less,” says Cousin, “so they need employees with more skills than before.”
Employees tend to have a vertical mentality. But you have to be open-minded. Instead of waiting for your company to suggest training, investigate areas that would strengthen your skill set. “For example, if you’re in the consumer packaged goods marketplace, consider getting telecom or manufacturing [experience] in your background,” Cousin says.
18 “Me” incorporated Those with a free-agent mentality will be the most successful in the marketplace of the future, says Joe Watson, CEO of StrategicHire in Reston, Virginia. “A lot of African Americans are still conditioned to think about loyalty to the company. [They don't] think about loyalty to themselves until they’ve been denied a promotion or laid off. We’ve bought in hard to the belief that if you show up to work every day and you’re a good little corporate citizen, then good things will happen for you naturally. That’s not true.” Each individual is responsible for advancing his or her own career.
Employees should view themselves as corporations, with a personal balance sheet, an individual statement of profit and loss, and a market analysis. “If you’re wondering why you the product is not moving within your company, then maybe you need to convene a focus group of people within your company who can advise you on how you are perceived inside the business.”
19 Find the