How Your Neanderthal Genes Impact Your Job Search

Curiosity led me recently to investigate my DNA using a public service. Like most people, I was intrigued to find out about my ability to taste certain flavors, the probability that I have attached earlobes, and other scintillating facts about my heredity. But the most arresting data concerned my almost 3% Neanderthal inheritance.

Specifically, how does that affect daily life, or, even more importantly, suitability for a job?

Apparently, h. sapiens (modern humans) and h. neanderthalensis met and interbred repeatedly over hundreds of thousands of years mainly in what is today Europe. It might be important to note that the 3% referenced above is not 3% of the total genome. It refers instead to a specific sequence of DNA bases in defined regions of our chromosomes. [See source.] In fact, we all share about 99% of our genetic material with chimpanzees, too. “Most human [DNA] sequences differ from each other by an average of 8.0 substitutions, while the human and chimpanzee sequences differ by about 55.0 substitutions. The Neanderthal and modern human sequences differed by approximately 27.2 substitutions.” [See source.]

Intriguingly, geneticists tell us that all h. neanderthalensis DNA in our genome comes from the male side of the equation. It has not made it materially into the mitochondrial DNA as passed through the female lineage. Apparently, our species diverged approximately 550,000 years ago. Small population size may well have been part of the undoing of h. neanderthalensis.

So how did this help my career?

Well, before dying out, h. neanderthalensis gave us a number of gifts. This is, in part, because they had several hundred thousands of years of living in Europe to develop traits that were then passed on to h. sapiens via interbreeding.

One of these repeatedly tops the fashion charts: red hair. [See source.] Theoretically, lighter skin and the associated ginger-colored hair were advantageous to ancient hominids. This mutation allowed the skin to more readily synthesize vitamin D in northern (European) climates where sunshine was less frequent.

Another gift keeps you relatively healthy.

Apparently, parts of our modern immune systems came through the h. neanderthalensis line because they had time to evolve immunity against pathogens in the environment that would have been unknown to h. sapiens arriving hundreds of thousands of years later from Africa. Evolution apparently grabbed those genes during the ensuing interbreeding as being useful. They are still preserved in our DNA as a result.

Less obviously, h. neanderthalensis DNA appears to have contributed to blood chemistry, liver function, bone density, taste and pain receptors, tooth formation, brain development related to language, and a propensity toward depression. [See source.] We tend to think of these ancestors as uncultured. But “recent research shows that Neanderthals talked, cooked with fire, made art objects, had sophisticated tools and hunting behavior, and even wore makeup and jewelry.” [See source.]

The same source goes on to speculate that because h. neanderthalensis were larger and more massive, they required more food to survive. “Skinny” h. sapiens were more efficient. They also appear to have domesticated the dog, which became an aid in hunting and therefore rendered h. sapiens more adept at gaining nutrition.

So, in a general way, h. neanderthalensis contributed significantly to our success as a species, but not so much when it comes to your next job interview.

As luck would have it though, evolution foresaw this gap and created The Barrett Group.

We evolved to help executives who are unclear about their next career step to clarify their career path in such a way as to harmonize their personal and emotional objectives with their monetary requirements utilizing our Clarity Program© (the targeting step in our five-step career change process). Here’s how one Barrett Group (TBG) client put it:

Getting coached was refreshing! It was the first time for me, and it felt good to be the person who was learning[.] I started by meeting with Marsha Foster in the Clarity Program. She was awesome! She took me step-by-step through an examination of myself, making me think about me and what I want to do. […] Marsha’s coaching gave me a good foundation for my job search. Working with her made me feel like I was on the right path… [Read more about Ray White, VP of Marketing Operations.]

After the targeting step, we help executives package themselves for the market and then prepare to excel during job interviews.

Here’s how another landed client described the TBG effect:

One of the interviewers said to me afterwards that she was very impressed with the questions I asked because they were not the usual questions they hear from candidates. She said one of them was particularly novel, and it had stumped her! And I thought, ‘Thanks, George! [her TBG career consultant][Read more about Samantha, formerly a CMO in the beverage industry.]

Now you may or may not have ginger hair, but in many ways your biology and culture have been affected by H. neanderthalensis. Nevertheless, when it comes to executive career change, the pinnacle of evolution now leads to The Barrett Group. Ask Forbes, for example, who for years has cited us as one of the best in the business. Time and again clients tell us how frustrating their job search had been until they met us.

Shrug off that bear skin, lay down your club, and come in out of the cold. We can help. Give us a call.

Peter Irish, Chairman
The Barrett Group

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