It is odd to think of most employers as gamblers. Yet, clearly, in hiring new employees, companies actively gamble that they can pick reliable people who will add value—especially at the executive level.
More than any other value, it is the quality of trust—being able to trust an employee. Trust helps would-be employers make the choice to hire or not hire any individual.
Think about it. Suppose you have the choice for your sales team between a solid but unexceptional performer or a possible superstar. Imagine that your stomach is telling you that the possible superstar may not be with you very long or may try to maintain some side gig that will quickly become a distraction—who are you going to pick?
Trust has a long history of being a fundamental aspect of human relationships. Think about the handshake (that has now been supplanted by the elbow bump). Allegedly the handshake arose from a need to verify that the people you meet were not holding weapons, i.e., that they could be trusted not to immediately attack you.
Today politicians take an oath of office. Employees sign a contract. These are all pledges to be trustworthy that in a perfect world should actually be unnecessary. Yet clearly, being trustworthy is not as common as we all might hope.
No doubt at some point in your life you have encountered someone who you chose not to trust. Let us talk about the archetypical “used car salesman” persona as an example (though I have met highly ethical used car salespeople, too).
The behaviors that we react badly to include:
These are promises that somehow do not stack up against the reality of the car itself. They seem exaggerated. Perhaps there are too many of them, too. “Too good to be true” comes to mind as a warning bell.
And then there are the interpersonal signals. The salesperson might seem nervous—too eager for the sale. Some people call this “commission breath.” There is a detectable incongruity between the words, the tone of voice, the facial expressions, and the reality of the offer that you as the buyer comprehend possibly only at a visceral level, but you detect it nonetheless and are put off by it. In other words, you do not trust the salesperson and you probably take your business elsewhere.
When you present yourself to a prospective employer, are you the genuine, honest, friendly person you may see as your self-image, or do you come off as the nervous used car salesperson? How good are you at engendering trust in the interviewer?
At the Barrett Group we have been helping executives to clarify their career objectives and then discover the positions of their choice for three decades—literally thousands of executives who have landed due to our advice and support—executives who earned the trust of their future employers during the hiring process.
Once we are clear as to your true objectives (that we uncover during the targeting stage of our career change process—the Clarity Program©), we proceed to help you “package” yourself via your resume and LinkedIn profile in such a way that you are congruent, that you do not seem “too good to be true,” and that you are specifically attractive to the employer(s) you are targeting.
During the next stage—the market access phase of your career change program—you will uncover opportunities in the recruiter, published, and unpublished markets. When you network with some of these opportunities, we will help you avoid that pitfall summarized by renowned coach Brian Tracy as negative “self talk,” i.e., “what you say to yourself when no one is listening is what all the world sees when everyone is watching.” This is an example of potential incongruity (remember the used car salesperson?) between what you say and how you are perceived by your potential network partner that will undermine trust if not detected and addressed early on.
We help clients avoid incongruities and weak answers to critical questions by honing their interview skills through mock interviews and practice sessions so that when they do interview they feel comfortable, behave genuinely, answer questions honestly and effectively and in all ways come off as the best qualified candidate for the opportunity. Typically, they greatly increase their potential compensation, by the way, through our negotiation support. The last stage—on-boarding—helps clients recognize and avoid other mistakes as they enter their new roles so that they have the optimal chance of success and promotion at their new employer.
So, yes, we believe most people are trustworthy on balance but many do not know how to demonstrate this quality to people they do not already know well. Fortunately, we do know how to make this important quality more obvious and can guide you to achieving a high rate of trust with your prospective employer(s).
You do not even have to trust me on this. Trust instead the 30-some clients who landed or received offers in the past eight weeks as visible on our Hiring Line website.
There is a lot going on in the executive market right now. Are you getting your share of the action?
Peter Irish, CEO
The Barrett Group