“It’s not what you know or who you know. It’s what you are that finally counts.” (Zig Ziglar)
Networking has become a key part of job seeking and professional growth. There are volumes written on the power of working your network to find the right job, to get an interview. All of these are encouraging you to leverage who you know to get ahead.
Then there are books and websites created to tell you how to shape your resume to fit a job opening. These explain how to use key words to gain attention in a pool of job seekers. They may even help you to make your experience look like more than it is, or your knowledge of a particular job look a little shinier. These are all about leveraging what you know to get ahead.
All of that is probably good for helping you get an interview, and even for passing the interview to get a job. Having a reference or two never hurts, and having the right skillset on a resume will always grab the attention of a prospective employer. But once you have the interview, or even once you have the job, your network and resume cease to be important. At that point, and forever after in that position, it becomes solely a matter of who you are, and what you really bring to the table that counts.
Over the years I have hired, managed and sometimes even fired many people. Everyone I have hired has come in with a resume. Many of those resumes had a professional polish to them. Some were remarkably aligned to the job I had posted. If I was hiring contractors, then the resume was delivered by a professional job placement person, who then “marketed” the person to me. My job, and the job of those working with me in the hiring process, is to cut through all the marketing and try to find out who the person REALLY is. Do they really have the hard skills the advertise? Does their personal character align to the caliber of the references provided? Basically, does what is inside the package match what is on the box?
After all of that process we will hire someone. Only then do we really get to see who the person is, and what their true capabilities are. Sometimes we get it just right. Sometimes we are pleasantly surprised to find that there was much more beneath the surface. Sadly, sometimes, we get it wrong and the person doesn’t match up to what we saw in the resume or in the interview.
To be competitive in the marketplace, a person has to do whatever it takes to get an interview, and then to win the interview so they can be hired. I sometimes attend talent conferences, and there are far more candidates than openings. I know that all of them have honed everything from their resume to their personal appearance to try to gain an edge in the process. One the other side of the room are seasoned professionals who have honed their skills at seeing through the icing to get to the core. Their job is to make sure that the person is the right fit, and ready to contribute.
This quote is a reminder that no matter how you may dress up your skills and experiences, ultimately it is about who you are that determines whether you will succeed. I can write a sparkling resume, and I can include an impressive set of references. All of that might get me in the door somewhere. Once inside that door the resume goes to the shredder, and the references stay outside. Then it is up to me and me alone. If I don’t measure up, I will soon be out re-polishing that resume and re-contacting my references.