Recently, while speaking on a panel at an HR conference, I had a “mic drop” moment. I said that I encourage my team to interview externally. When I said this, there were stunned looks, silence and then a ton of questions. Interviewing for other jobs, whether internally or externally, is important for several reasons:
- Remember how humbling it is to look for a job. You never want to get too confident and stop taking networking meetings. Finding your next opportunity is hard, stressful work. In fact, finding a job is almost always listed in the top 10 on any list of most stressful life events, often trumped only by death and divorce. It is important that we help each other find jobs and support our networks. There’s no better way to remind ourselves of this, than putting ourselves directly in that position.
- Self-promotion. We need to be able to talk and write about ourselves. It needs to be interesting – not bragging. Interviewing is a terrific way to fine-tune your story and get comfortable with positioning. It will help you understand the message you are delivering and make sure you reinforce it. And let’s face it – we should always have an up-to-date resume and LinkedIn profile, but often, we don’t take the time to prioritize that, until we’re forced to.
- Intel on the competition. As an HR professional, I want to know what our competitors are doing in the interview space. Are they doing pre-interview testing? What are they looking for? Have salaries moved? What types of questions are they asking? What types of positions are emerging in the market (I also collect job descriptions)? All these are very important for our team to keep evolving and keep our company at the forefront of hiring and retaining top talent. And if you are not an HR professional, you can easily see how these same questions, particularly those related to salary and position types, could be beneficial to you.
As an aside, regular Front and Centered readers know that SEI is a big believer in Gallup’s Clifton Strengthsfinder. My strengths are Activator, Input, Strategic, Woo and Communication. As I was writing this post, I noticed my strengths in action, which I thought would be helpful to share. For example, it’s clear to me that I was tapping into my Input. According to Gallup, “People who are especially talented in the Input theme have a craving to know more. Often, they like to collect and archive all kinds of information.”
I think my quest to accumulate more and more information is especially clear in number 3 above. At least one day a week, I lose myself in data. I not only find it incredibly useful in building up a business case, I also find that it relaxes me and helps me to de-stress.
Don't be afraid of what's out there
Interviewing can actually reinforce your decision to stay where you are. The grass is not always greener, and the interview process is great insight into what makes your company a great place to work – and vice versa – it may point out a greener pasture beyond your company’s four walls. But wouldn’t we be better knowing that first hand and addressing it, rather than remaining in the dark?
After discussing my interview rationale on the panel, I addressed questions. The most frequently asked one was, “Have you ever lost someone?”. My answer? Of course. Your top employees are in the most demand, and sometimes they get an offer too good to refuse. This happened to me a year ago: I lost one of my high-potential employees and it really hurt. But relationships are key and we left on good terms. I genuinely wished her all the best on her next chapter. And, one day, I hope to hire her back. The experiences she has gained inside and outside of SEI, will make us both better for it in the long run.
I encourage all of you to hone your story and test it out in the real world. You never know what you may learn in the process.