86. Recruitment, selection, and the theory of evolution: Lessons from the natural world to achieve career success.
What can we learn from the natural world to help manage our careers?
Career management is a concept that is lost to many professionals, and that's such a surprise to me. Professionals usually are great at making plans for their children’s education, buying a new house, going on vacations, and organizing special birthdays. But seldom do they plan for how they are going to afford all of the above.
From my coaching, I learned that corporate professionals are under the misapprehension that their career progression is either in the hands of their current and future employers or the hands of fate. I also noticed from working with my clients that it’s easy to focus on the urgent and leave the important plans to be done later. With so much work piling up in the office and at home, making career plans are never high up in people’s to-do list. That is until you lose your job or the current situation at work becomes unbearable. The irony is not lost to my clients when I say, “you have spent decades making revenue-generating and growth plans for your employer, and none for yourself.”
So in this episode of The Job Hunting Made Simple, I discuss a few exciting concepts that contextualize career management, recruitment and selection, and job progression in a new light. My hope is always to make career management and planning more exciting and its importance more pressing.
If you have been following this podcast for a while, you have heard me compare executives to sportsmen and women. But in this episode, we are going in a new direction. We will look at how concepts from evolutionary theory, natural selection, and biology can be adapted to help you succeed in your career.
I enjoy bringing these concepts and others to my coaching sessions. I find it fun, and I enjoy building analogies that help crystalize ideas that may seem too theoretical when first discussed with my clients.
4 Concepts from the natural world to help you succeed in your career:
- Repetition: Repetition happens over time in the natural world. It’s about reproduction over time, regularity, and fidelity. In our careers, it is essential to remember that repetition and the consistency of your message of branding, over time, make it so much easier for others to remember you. Find your focus, excellence, and a key area of expertise, and stick to that message. If you decide to change careers and therefore change your message, remember that it takes time for the new message to sink in. Your network will want you to remind them of your change, and you need to give it time before your new career “sticks.”
- Patterns: Patterns are widespread. In your career, with some reflection or the help of a coach, you can identify successful patterns and patterns that are not leading you to your desired career outcome. Pattern spotting is something that my clients and I do all the time. For example, we test a resume, review the results, and tweak it to adjust depending on how it’s received. This is an ongoing process or review and selection of the best patterns at every stage of the job-hunting process.
- Camouflage: In nature, you will find a caterpillar that looks like a snake or an insect that looks like a leaf. It's an evolutionary phenomenon, and it protects the species, allowing them to live longer and reproduce. When I help clients with interview preparation, I often explain the importance of protecting your career by not showcasing all of your weaknesses at an interview. Many times, I have seen a client start a job interview question by saying something like, “Although I lack the ten years of work experience required for this role, I have….” No! No, no, no. Firstly, if you are a client of mine and you applied for the role, we believe you can do the job. So show why you are ready for the opportunity, and camouflage the criteria you did not meet. We know by now that job descriptions are overrated anyway. Chances are, every other candidate applying will, like you, only meet about 60% of the criteria regardless.
- Reciprocal Altruism: In evolutionary biology, reciprocal altruism is a behavior where an animal acts in such a way that reduces that chance of success by helping another animal improve their chance of success. For example, you may have seen birds that clean the teeth of alligators. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? The truth is we tend to think of ourselves as selfless, but there’s enough research that shows reciprocity is way more common. So when you approach people and ask for their help over and over again to support your career, but you never helped them in any way, chances are they will stop helping you. So, stop asking for help, and start offering to help. Not only will you feel wonderful about it (I guarantee!), you may one day find yourself being helped with having to ask. It’s the most amazing feeling in the world.
Repetition, patterns, camouflage, and reciprocal altruism: Fours concepts from nature that professionals can use in the job hunting journey to be successful in the recruitment and selection process.
Podcast Episode Timestamps:
- 03:27 - "Recruitment and selection" and "natural selection"
- 11:20 - Repetition
- 14:14 - Patterns
- 16:58 - Camouflage
- 21:28 - Reciprocal altruism