Can you do that new job?

Generally when evaluating someone for a role, I look for 5 things:

  1. Behaviours – how do they operate in a team? Do they admit to mistakes and learn from them? Do they help others? Communicate and live to their personal values? Are those values ones I want people in the team to live to?
  2. Accountability – can this person handle the magnitude of the role? Are they able to manage stakeholders of the right level of seniority?
  3. Domain – how deep is their knowledge of this business, industry, sector etc.? And how deep does it need to be?
  4. Function – what is their level of skill in this type of role? For example, if hiring a business analyst, how good a business analyst are they?
  5. Organisation – perhaps summarised as “knowing how things are done around here” – processes, culture etc. – does this person have the knowledge to make things happen?

Obviously, number 1 is a given – no one wants a brilliant jerk on the team. But most people have some of each of the others. The question is whether it’s enough to set them up for success in the new role. Usually, I’d expect someone to have strength in 1 or 2 of the others, and to have one or at most two which give headroom to grow as:

  • No headroom in role = boring job
  • Too many development areas = set up for failure

When a candidate is moving roles internally, they probably have number 5. So a step up to greater accountability, or moving to an entirely new business domain (if the company is big enough) might represent a solid plan. Doing both at once is probably too much for most people.

External candidates probably don’t possess organisational knowledge, so we should assume that’s a growth area. And that means they need to be fairly strong in two of the other areas. In my experience, people usually move company to step up. So i would expect external candidates to have strong domain knowledge and functional skill.

The 9 Ps

I often have conversations with friends and colleagues about their careers. And many times, i point people to a great blog post by my colleague Liz Aab, about the “7 Ps”. But i always find myself adding two to the list, so i thought i’d just post it here.

There are lots of factors which go in to choosing a job. You can’t have all of them, all of the time. At least, i think you can’t. But you can (and should) decide which are most important to you. Here are Liz’s 7 Ps (which she says were originally 5 Ps from some other source). I’ve added my two on the end, and i’ve reworded some of Liz’s original post:

  1. Place : Where geographically do you want to work? The city/country you are based in and your commute affect how you spend your time, and who you spend your time with, both inside and outside work.
  2. People : Who specifically would you work with on a daily basis? Do you like them? Does your boss care about you and want to see you succeed?
  3. Pay : Does the job or sector pay you enough to live the life you want? If not, will your pay will increase in a few years in this career path? Or, are you happy to change your lifestyle to accommodate a lower salary?
  4. Progression : Will you develop skills, knowledge, a network or a reputation that will help you move forward in your career? Does this job offer defined progression opportunities, or do you need to develop these for yourself? If so, are you comfortable with this?
  5. Perception : How do people react when you tell them what you do? Whose opinion do you really care about, and how important is that to you? Of course perceptions of jobs and industries change over time.
  6. Purpose : What is the company or organisation trying to achieve, and do you support that? It’s not just millennials that want to work on something they believe in.
  7. Procedures : In Liz’s list, this is how you do your job day to day. I’ve reworked it – for me, procedures is how the organisation operates. Do they expect a rigid 9-5, or are you trusted to deliver a result? Do decisions get made once and then implemented, or does it take a consensus to make change? Are you empowered to deliver, or do you need permission to take a bathroom break?
  8. Projects : While procedures might be how the work gets done, this is what you’re actually doing. Are you spending your day on the phone, or sitting reading stacks of paper, or crunching Excel, or standing on your feet in front of 25 teenagers? Is your work indoors or outdoors? And do you like doing those things?
  9. Pace : Is it frantic from the moment you wake to when you sleep? Or is there lots of space in the day for you to collect your thoughts or think things through? Are you expected to check your emails after hours, or do you ‘clock off’ when you’re done? What do you need to thrive?

Of course, as Liz points out, what you value today will differ to what’s important to you tomorrow. When you’re young and eager, you may want a role which is always on the go (high pace), and with a compelling purpose. If you start to plan a family, pay and progression move up the list.