I have been dealing with candidates for several positions over the past few weeks. Different experience for each candidate which fulfils the basic HR rule that no two employees are the same. However, there are some basic patterns I have noticed and I wish to write about one of them today. It remains an hypothesis for now and I am happy to be proved wrong.
Hunger. Skills, attitude and several parameters are great for judging candidates, but in my little experience dealing with people, I think the most important factor/determinant of success in the workplace is how hungry a candidate is.
I look back at myself 8 years ago. I had no real skill to sell in my industry. I knew no on one. I was naïve, among other things. To summarize, I couldn’t have cleared any job interview if judged by all those fancy parameters. However, I had one thing which separated me from my peers – insatiable appetite. I was hungry for significance. I knew I needed to learn some skills and I was willing to go any length to learn them. Though, I was very young and naïve, I knew I could be doing far more than what I was doing at that time. That pushed me beyond limits.
My hunger made me do crazy things like travelling hundreds of kilometres to attend a 2 hour training (say, Lagos – Akure) several times, staying awake 3 days at stretch learning, using my weekly stipend to host my first website and domain (was duped) and then trekking several kilometres daily to attend my web design training in Abeokuta, walking the street moving from company to company and submitting proposals to design a website for them (I did this in Sagamu, Abeokuta and Abuja).
I was always looking for an opportunity to serve (not a job) – free or paid, to prove myself.
As I interact with several young people over the past weeks, I hardly see this trait. It looks like I am searching for a vague trait, or I may just be an alien. Most of the people I meet today are too laid back. Very few go-getters. It is obvious in their approach of the interview. It reflects on their CV, it reflects all over them. 5 minutes into an interview, I can gauge the hunger level of a candidate.
In my world, a hungry candidate will go any length to acquire all the things that the “advantaged” candidates have. So, I set the minimum base (i.e. a skill or so in “this and that”) and then gauge the hunger level of the candidate. Other parameters come afterwards. I believe a hungry candidate will do anything to advance his career. I have gotten more done with the few hungry people I have around me than the “entitled ones”. They are always ready to prove themselves. They think ahead, work with incredible speed and ease past their peers always. While it is too early to judge the long term consequences of hiring mainly on this parameter (i.e. what happens if they don’t stay hungry e.t.c.), the benefits so far trumps hiring on other parameters.
Dear job seeker, perhaps the only thing missing in your job search equation is that you are not hungry enough. If you are, I bet you will go volunteer somewhere for a few weeks/months, you will enrol in that much needed training. Above all, you will do anything legal and moral to get what you really want. I guess staying at home everyday doing nothing isn’t one of them 🙂