Why are we worried about describing what we do?
Being in the recruiting business makes you think really deeply about how you describe what you do, what your company does, and what the open positions you have entail. I can't help but feel like most of the people I interact with seem to embellish their roles, lack transparency, and fear that others will think less of them because of what they do and what their company does. I think that the only problem these sort of people have is their own lack of confidence in their ability to have the big impact they have always wanted to have on the world and starting to have that impact in the role they are currently in. I think this problem is rampant through all industries and for all entry-level people. Entry-level folks fail to realize their own value and potential and they don't yet share the power of the vision of their companies.About 2 years ago I was in MacGrady's, one of my favorite spots in Bethlehem, PA, to grab a beer and I was talking to a young lady who should have graduated from Lehigh the same year that I did. I asked her what she had been up to and she told me, "I work in the minerals industry." She gave me this nearly unsolicited description of her professional position that she had decided was an impressive way to describe where she was working. I was intrigued by the vagueness and her apparent lack of confidence in what she was doing so I followed up with, "That's awesome! Where are your offices?" Since I know a little bit about the bigger businesses that exist in the Lehigh Valley her answer of, "Our headquarters are off of Schoenersville Road," was enough to let me know that she works at FLSmidth and I responded with, "Oh, you guys sell cement plants?" and she looked broken by my response.
There was really no need for her to be unhappy with what her company does. FLSmidth is an amazing company that provides cement plants that help build the world's infrastructure and improve our global economy and I'm sure their executives realize the importance of their company in the future of the world, but why was this one young lady so ashamed of their company's primary business that she didn't want to refer to it directly?
For a while I've been experimenting to find out the right way to describe what I do and I've been thinking about what makes a job impressive or desirable or both. A couple weeks ago a young lady asked me where I work and I said, "Rittenhouse Square-how about you?" She had this immediate look of being impressed, which is always funnier than the really confused look I get when I just say, "I sell knives."
The next day I used her reaction to change my recruiting and advertising strategy and started writing things like:
Student Summer Positions…
…in Rittenhouse Square
into my advertising materials. The day after that I designed a coat of arms to better reflect the prestige of the location. Regardless of how this impacts recruiting I think that it's interesting that someone can assume that they will be satisfied by their work just because of location or that a young lady at a bar can assume that what I do is important simply by me giving her an approximate address. The truth is that the value of a person's position doesn't come from where they are located or what their company sells or how their products impact the world. A person's position becomes valuable when they are passionate about what they do and passion is gained when a person has a firm vision of their impact on their circle of influence. You can have the impact that you want to and be the person you want to be no matter what company you're in. It doesn't matter whether you manufacture and sell pressure gauges or kitchen knives or financial services you control the impact you have on those around you. What can you change today in your own position to make yourself more passionate about what you do?