Finding happiness at work hinges on knowing who you are — and what you’re good at. Once you can define those things, you can find your place and your purpose at your company.
In this episode of Science 4-Hire, I’m thrilled to chat with my friend Jenn Longbine, HR and recruitment leader and head of G&A recruiting at Slack, about how to help employees choose happiness at work.
Jenn has been passionate about this topic since she was a child, when she saw the toll that being unhappy at work was taking on her mom. “I remember being a little girl and thinking: But why? You can pick something else, right?” she says.
Now, she’s using her research and experience to empower that choice for others. Listen in to learn how Jenn is enabling employees to choose happiness at work.
Adapt Hiring Criteria to Open Up More Choices
Jenn is dedicated to promoting happiness through her hiring efforts. There are people out there who would find personal happiness and fulfillment in the roles your organization offers. But, even if they have the skills, motivation and drive to succeed in those roles, they may not realize that those jobs are available to them. Legacy requirements that are based on outdated qualifications might prevent them from applying.
One of the keys to unlocking talent — and learning how to keep employees happy — is to rethink what it means to be qualified for a job.
Think about why those requirements are included in the job description. “Did we list them because it was on the old job description? Did we list them because that’s the kind of thing we’ve been asking for for 20 years in this role?” Jenn says. Those are extremely common reasons for asking for legacy requirements. But being common doesn’t make them valid.
Often we don’t change what we’re looking for because we’re afraid of making the wrong hiring decision. But that could be paralyzing us. “It’s definitely a shift in the way that we look at talent and what matters,” Jenn says.
“How do we create the talent that we want to see in the marketplace?” Instead of reacting to legacy requirements, we can decide what traits, skills and perspectives would add the most value in the role and then look for those.
Empower People to Pursue Their Passions
If you’re replacing legacy requirements, what criteria should you look for? Jenn gets this question a lot. “My answer is somebody who loves this work. Period. Hard stop,” she says. “There’s so much implied in that: If you love this work, then there must be some type of aptitude or experience under your belt.”
Jenn’s recruiting philosophy is that, by empowering employees to choose happiness at work, you unleash their true passion and potential. I think she’s on to something. When you allow employees to find their own way within the company, they’re more likely to feel that the work they’re doing is fulfilling and meaningful. This is the foundation for employee engagement.
And that passion and personal fulfillment produces some of the best work outcomes. Happy employees are more productive. “As the hiring manager, I want that employee,” Jenn says. “I know they’re going to show up in ways that they would not… if this wasn’t the thing they were most excited to do today.”
When team members are allowed to gravitate towards the work that makes them happiest, they’re more likely to bring their best to the table. As you review resumes or succession plans, be sure to take aptitudes and interests into account when making hiring and promotion decisions.
Facilitate Better Work Through Self-Discovery
Employees can’t really choose happiness at work if they don’t know what makes them happy. Jenn’s earned a reputation for helping employees find what they love by getting in touch with themselves. And it all starts with two simple questions:
- Who am I?
- What am I known for?
Jenn kicks off her personal resume by answering these questions because the answers speak volumes about who she is as an employee and as an individual. Jenn teaches this technique in a resume writing class, which has earned her the title, “The lady that makes us cry.”
“Most times, nobody’s ever asked them that — especially women,” Jenn says. “And they’ve certainly never been asked to prioritize who they really are above other things that seem more important when you’re applying for work.”
Assessments and managers trained to help employees chart their professional paths can help facilitate this vital self-discovery process. By empowering employees to learn what they’re passionate about, employers can harness that passion and potential by optimizing employee placement within the company.
Businesses and their employees can help each other achieve success, and happiness is the key to unlocking it.
People in This Episode
Read the Transcript
Welcome to Science 4-Hire with your host, Dr. Charles Handler. Hiring is hard. Pre-hire talent assessments can help you ease the pain. Whether you don’t know where to start, or you just want to stay on top of the trend, Science 4-Hire provides 30 minutes of enlightenment on best practices and news from the front lines of the employment testing universe. So get ready to learn as Dr. Charles Handler and his all-star guests lend old school knowledge with new wave technology to educate and inform you about all things talent assessment.
Hello, everybody, and welcome to the latest edition of Science 4-Hire. And I have an awesome guest as we were just talking about in the pre-thing here. Any excuse we get to talk to one another is a really good one because we’re both super busy, and we haven’t been working on any projects together in a while. So it’s really great to catch up with my special guest today, Jenn Longbine, who is a talent acquisition lead recruitment specialist at Slack. And we’re going to talk about happiness in the workplace environment today and how to make it happen. And I will let Jen kind of introduce herself and tell a little bit about her background, and then we’ll get rolling.
Well, first, thanks for having me, Charles. It is a treat to be here with you. And yes, I’m Jenn. I am a long-time recruiting leader now. I was going to say the years, but I think I’m past that point, enough years where I don’t want to tell you, in this business and now lead recruiting at Slack slash Salesforce for GNA and all of the marketing functions. So it’s a real broad spectrum, which has been really fun to kind of help Slack build out the function and prepare to be acquired by Salesforce. So we’re just wrapping up the harmonization period now, and it’s been really cool and transformational. Prior to that, I spent about 20 years in large companies, Nike, Apple and Starbucks over the years. So I’ve had some front row seats to some pretty awesome hypergrowth and have had the chance to work with Dr. Handler here on some job profiles and in helping to remove bias from hiring processes over the years. So excited to be here.
One of my favorite topics is happiness at work. It matters a lot to me as a daughter of a mom who never liked her jobs growing up. I remember being a little girl and thinking, ”But why? You can pick something else, right? You don’t have to stay there, right?” You get that, don’t you? And I just remember being so baffled. And for years, I wondered, “Is it that she believes this is as good as it gets? Does she not believe that she deserves joy at work? Is there no such thing?” Right? As a kid, you’re kind of pondering all this stuff. And so growing up and then getting into HR, it was really, where I nerded out from a human science standpoint was really on the joy factor and how that impacts retention, how it impacts talent attraction, how it impacts productivity, and all of it.
Yeah. Everything. Job happy equals life happy.
We spend so much time on it. But before we get really into this, there’s a couple of things I got to say. So first of all, don’t let Jenn be too modest. So I put her in the category of a talent acquisition visionary, having been on the front lines and really involved in some major companies that everybody kind of looks at and we touch and feel and drink and wear every day. So that’s such a great experience. Jenn is also, believe it or not, the third guest on my podcast who is a bluegrass musician. I’ve had two others. And so that’s pretty cool. I wish I could get you all together so that we could actually have a musical performance, but that’s not going to happen. And now, yeah, let’s talk about it. I mean, there’s so much to unpack in the amount of time we have. What are we focusing on?
Well, we both work in hiring, right? And we know that we’re looking to help people find matches that will be gratifying to them, that will satisfy some really basic psychological needs. And in exchange for that, what do you get? Well, you get support by your employer. You get opportunities. You get nurturing, hopefully, right, even more so now because of the labor market dynamics… I’m loving it. I mean, it’s become so democratized now that candidates are in the driver seat in a lot of ways, and they’re demanding that companies take better care of them. And I think the pandemic has really accelerated it. We’ve been on that path already, but it’s really accelerated it. And now companies are at the mercy of supply and demand, and people can choose where they want to work for the most part. And I think that’s going to go a long way.
Yeah. I agree. I feel like the pandemic has normalized people being really honest with themselves and their employers. All of a sudden, things that actually matter, actually matter at work, right? And I think since the dawn of time, we’ve pretended otherwise. We’ve pretended, “It’s okay, my boss was rude to me. It’s okay that I don’t really like it here. It’s okay. It’s okay because this is how it is.” Right? And in the pandemic, I think we all lost our threshold for our willingness to spend time doing things that don’t feel meaningful. And so it’s been a real, I think, microscope, and the companies that have always done it well are rising to the top, and the ones that are not are truly having, what I’ve heard coined as, “the battle of the benefits” right now.
Oh, right. I haven’t heard that. I haven’t heard that. So what does a company do, right? I think that one of Jenn’s specialties that I’ve been impressed with is kind of meeting candidates where they’re at, right? So at other jobs, I don’t know if we can even name names, but going out into the community and saying, “Let’s look in nontraditional places. Let’s look for people doing things they love that align with the things that we love. And let’s go find those people and talk to them.” And I think that strategy, now more than ever, is so critical. And I’ve had other guests and other conversations where it’s all about, there’s untapped supplies of people who are just waiting as well to get into something that they’re a good fit for, that they really truly enjoy. But they may not even think about your job being available. So you got to go get them. You got to be able to reach them. So are you guys doing any of that now? Are there any kind of stories that you’d like to tell about how you’re promoting happiness through your hiring efforts really?
Yeah. I mean, yes and no, right? We’ve been in such a transformation during my tenure at Slack so far that we haven’t had a lot of runway to get initiatives off the ground, but I will say, it’s definitely a shift in the way that we look at talent and what matters. We talk a lot about, to your point, let’s really unpack what it means to be qualified, right? How are you qualified for a job? What are those things that we’ve listed, and why did we list them? Did we list them because it was on the old job description? Did we list them because that’s the kind of thing we’ve been asking for for 20 years in this role? Or are we really giving ourselves the opportunity to think? And I think one thing that’s driven the conversation and helped me to expedite change is the desire for diversity in the workplace, right? And each generation is obviously more diverse than the one above it.
So arguably, you could say that if you open up earlier career positions, you open up a more diverse candidate pool to work from. And with that, you get differences in backgrounds and things like that. So I’ve been working with leaders on: ”How do we create the talent that we want to see in the marketplace?” Because diversity in and of itself is a supply and demand issue, right, not really a recruiting issue. So how do we sort of decide what we want? What’s most important first? Instead of writing a job description first, post it, start meeting people, and then kind of decide what we want, which is what most companies do.
What if we really decide first? What if we really commit to and understand what’s valuable to us first and not be afraid to make that commitment? Because I see, I think a lot of the disparity is just fear-based, right? We’re afraid, if I make that decision and it goes sideways, or I make a bad hire, what are the ramifications of that? So it’s better if I throw out something broad and then sort of know it when I see it, right? And that’s not necessarily working anymore.
Yeah. Well, diversity, too, I always look at it as a statistical probability thing, too, right? I’ve got a vision of a funnel, and you got all these different colored balls above that funnel or through that funnel. And if you’re not going out finding the plaid balls to get into your process, you’re not hiring any plaid balls or any purple balls or whatever. That’s not going to happen. So it’s just, you can’t get blood from a rock, right? You’ve got to get the diversity in there. And the things that I’m finding in my own research and stuff now on things like cognitive diversity and cultural contribution, it’s amazing.
There’s tons of research. You don’t even have to look hard to find research that shows that diverse organizations and organizations with what we call cognitive diversity, which doesn’t really have anything to do with the color of your skin necessarily, it’s all about coming from a different place where you think of things differently and injecting a new set of ideas or viewpoints into a team that’s already there, into a group of people, that kind of stuff has a major impact on the outcomes that all businesses love while helping people feel valued.
I mean, everybody wins with that kind of thing. And the cognitive diversity thing, I’m interested in your opinion, right? So to do that well, I feel like the last mile, I call it, a hiring manager making a hiring decision maybe when they’re given a slate of candidates, to know what their own team needs could use and then to understand the person, where good assessment tools can come into place, and look at their backgrounds, so you could have all the best diversity-focused hiring things in the world. If the hiring manager is the last mile is looking for someone that is a fit like them and kind of looking through biased perceptions, they’re not going to end up making that hire that has cognitive diversity. So how do you see that? Or do you see that kind of in the last mile, where things are really made or broken sometimes?
The way that we get ahead of… whether it’s that or even the diversity conversation, where we’ll present that diverse candidate, but maybe they don’t have this one bullet point, so we take the safer bet, right? I think as much as we can do to bring data to support the conversation initially, so when we have that first kickoff conversation with the hiring manager, we don’t say, “What do you want?” We say, “What’s missing from your team? And let’s talk about it.” It could be physical diversity. It could be some kind of knowledge. It could be, “You know what? I need somebody that can have a tough conversation. I have a whole team of softies,” right? It could be anything. And then you riff off of that. So they say, “Okay, it’s got to be this, this, and this.”
And I think, Okay, interesting. So maybe this is an opportunity for us to bring in a partner that can supply narrow diverse talent. What about Best Buddies, Anthony Kennedy Shriver’s organization? Maybe we work with somebody like that because that talent meets the criteria you’ve described, and it’s got this yes end of adding a dimension to your team that you don’t already have. And so I think sometimes just coming at it through features and benefits, right, like it’s a sales conversation. Okay, what’s really important to you? Okay, now let me riff off of that, and tell you why this thing matches what it is that you’re looking for.
Yeah. It’s so cool just how holistic this is. Again, I’m an assessment person, so a lot of times, it comes back to that lens for me. But if you look at aptitude testing or just general testing, not how well can this person… how well do they know Excel or how well they’re, competency-wise, going to be able to have business acumen or whatever. It’s looking at their broad based abilities, what they bring to the table, and their raw material that you might not see if you’re just looking at a resume, right? So those two things in combination kind of prime the pump and get people in the right place for you to be able to look at how-do-we-evaluate-them and make a hire.
And then to your point, you could fix it all in post. You can basically… developmental opportunities that your company has, you can shape those people based on their raw abilities and also what they really want to do, right, because ultimately, happiness comes from a couple of things. I’ve actually been reading an article by Arthur Brooks in The Atlantic, he’s a Harvard Business School guy, all about what it takes to be happy in your job. And he lays it out. I don’t want to paraphrase the whole article or repeat it, but ultimately, he’s saying that values congruence, being able to actually–I hate to use the term “culture fit” because I think it’s a bad term, I’ve liked “culture add” lately a lot more and we could talk about that in a minute–but it’s really about people that have the same frame of mind that the same things make them happy, the same values, and then being able to allow them to find their own way within that company so they can feel that the work they’re doing is fulfilling and meaningful.
That’s what happens inside the funnel and then at the bottom end of the funnel.
If you don’t look at this stuff holistically, you’re missing out. You’re only seeing one piece of it.
Yeah, and joy is something that, again, you cannot get right in hindsight. If you have to be on the defense because you didn’t get it, it is really hard to come back from. People over the years always ask me the same question: “What are you looking for when you’re hiring? What’s the most important, whether it’s for my direct reports or their direct reports or whatever, anywhere within the company, what’s most important to you?” And it’s the fastest answer ever. I’ve seen interviews where CEOs give an hour-long answer to this. My answer is: “Somebody who loves this work.” Period, hard stop. Because I can do so much with that, and there’s so much implied in that. If you love this work, then there must be some type of aptitude or experience under your belt. And then you think about–this is going to be really corny, Charles, go with me–there’s this relationship propaganda book from the ’90s called He’s Just Not That Into You. Do you remember this?
I’ve heard of it. I’ve heard of it.
The premise behind is ultimately that we find time to do the stuff we really want to do. We are selfish and narcissistic in nature as humans. That’s just how it is. So not only do I want to find time to do the work that I want to do, and I’ll move heaven and earth and get creative and think of new ways to get from point A to point B. That’s really important to me. But again, as the hiring manager, I want that employee, right, because I know they’re going to show up in ways that they would not… if they were kind of phoning it in or if this wasn’t the thing they were most excited to do today.
Good. Well, I think, so have you heard of the term culture add? Because it’s been a big thing that I’m super excited about lately because I’ll tell you, if I had a dollar for every time somebody in my world is like, “Oh, we got to hire for fit. We need culture fit,” well, yeah, again, I think it’s important to separate values congruence from culture fit because culture fit to me is a hiring manager with the “like me” bias. “Oh, we just want a whole bunch of people that are like us,” and then that’s a fit.
But what does that really fit? It doesn’t really help you actually have any diverse thinking, do anything outside of the same little box you’ve been working in. So I like culture add. There’s a ton to unpack there. And I haven’t really had a lot of conversations with other of my peers and friends about it. I’ve been kind of in my own little box. So what do you think? Tell us about that.
So I love that we’ve never had this conversation before right now because I’ve also been saying this for a long time. And I think it comes back to… It’s the grammar police in me where I’m always like, “Does that word mean what you think it means?” Let’s unpack it.
And I think about when people say culture fit, there’s two things there. The word “culture” to me is a misuse really. The way that I define work culture is a co-creation of the environment that we all electively want to be a part of, right? So it’s a co-creation exercise. So then by that definition, it’s impossible to create a, quote-unquote, “fit” because each person is an amalgamation of what’s already going on in their contribution to the whole, right?
So work culture, there is no such thing as a fit, or quite frankly, a nonfit. It depends upon what it is that we want to add or what we want to include. And so I think “culture fit” is a fear-based term. It says, “I’m afraid to go outside of what we already have. I’m afraid to put my neck out. I’m afraid I’m going to make a bad decision.” So I totally agree with you, Charles. I think culture add is really the only thing you can consider in that conversation. “Fit” is almost a passive, you know what, I’m not going to decide what I want.
Yeah. And we’ve already talked a little bit about culture add. So if you had to say your definition of what it is… And there is kind of a pretty formal agreed upon definition, less so with culture fit, right? Culture fit is kind of a figment of people’s imagination. It doesn’t mean that you can’t have a set of values that your company values, and that someone has congruence with those values. That’s a different story, but they’re often mixed. Anyway, so how would you describe culture add? And if you had to talk to other talent acquisition professionals to give them advice about how you would look for culture ad in your hiring process, talk about that a little.
I think one thing that’s really important when it comes to culture add is back to the joy piece, right? You get someone talking about, let’s just, for argument’s sake, say we’re talking about a marketing role. We already know you’re experienced and passionate about it, right? So we know these things about you. So now what we need to know are things like work style. What matters to you in how you get work done? Talk to me about how you do what you do. How do you get from point A to point B?
And then listening to understand if that’s the way that you know this team to work, is that a way of working where they’re going to run into friction, or is that a way of working where they’re going to run into ease? And making sure that they can do the work in the way that makes them happy in this environment, that also screams, “This is a pretty good culture add” because they’ll be able to hit the ground running. They won’t have to think about the logistics. They can just come and start creating, right? So I think it’s really a matchmaking exercise more than anything.
Yeah. And it’s funny because what’s the number one reason people leave their jobs? They don’t like their boss, so that factors into things. But I keep coming back to this last mile concept, and you’ve got to feed people into that last mile that, at least, have that diversity, otherwise, there’s no opportunity to choose it. But beyond that, it is that matchmaking. The hiring manager’s got to be aware and got to care.
You’re right. The hiring manager’s last mile is really critical. And I think you get stuck there. One of the pitfalls that I see though is actually deemed a good problem to have, but it’s a problem nonetheless. It’s having great recruiters, right? If, let’s say, you’ve got a recruiter that really believes in the product, loves the company, has listened to everything the candidate says, and presents back the company information in a way that really lands and is super relevant, and then they get to the hiring manager, and the hiring manager’s not like that.
Maybe the hiring manager’s kind of grumpy and sort of introverted. And I think it can feel a bit like a bait and switch. And that’s where I see candidates actually not interview well because you’ve created a vibe. The next person they talked to had that vibe, and then they ultimately get to who they’re going to work for. And that’s not the environment, right? And so it can be off-putting, I think, for both the candidate and the hiring manager, especially, too, the candidates walking in, almost behaving and speaking a certain way because you’ve built this up. And then, again, it doesn’t match. So there is kind of an element to making sure that it’s coming across in a really representative way.
Yeah. It’s interesting because doing this right, it’s, again, I keep coming back to holistic. It’s strategic and it’s tactical, right? So you got to have a strategy that feeds the right raw material in. Again, we talked about kind of not looking in the same old places. But it’s very tactical in terms of having the people on the ground be able to have the information they need to understand things, too, right? So gut feelings are important. There’s no doubt. They could also be biased. So I think, again, from an assessment standpoint, providing recruiters, hiring managers, hey, even candidates with information about themselves relative to what you’re looking for allows you to at least have some informed decision making when you think about thinking styles.
Certainly, people can tell you stories about how they’ve done things in the past, and that gives you some insight. But imagine a good cognitive assessment tells you that this person’s thinking style is this way or that way. And then you look at it and say, “Oh, well, this person was raised in a more collectivist culture, and we see these results on their tests, and we’ve heard these stories.” Then you’ve got enough information, I think, to turn this unknown quantity a little bit more known. And then you say, “That’s exactly what I need on my team. I need someone like that.” So it all fits together, and really dropping the ball in any one place can kibosh the whole thing. It really is a delicate thing, but boy, so important.
I’d love to see a data set comparing what people love to do alongside learning agility and just kind of mapping that out, right? Because if you could say, let’s say… back to my candidate that’s applying for a role in marketing. Let’s say we did an assessment, and we found out they love sales. They love interacting with humans, and they love design. Well, that’s great. Is there a level of learning agility there to match?
Because again, that could potentially be your business case to get a hiring manager to hire someone less traditional or more junior with that understanding that they can learn and come up to speed quickly, if there was a way to assess that. Because, again, if you know they love to do it, they’re interested in it, they’re going to put in the time. When they have that time, it’s going to be a better quality of time spent. So it would be a less riskier endeavor to hire somebody with less experience.
Yeah. I’ll do you one more, too, on top of that is, I call it, I guess, cultural agility. Some people call it inculturation. There’s some really great research that shows that people who are able to move in and out of different cultures but still retain their own identity, that is amazing.
I’m talking about work group cultures, work group dynamics, whatever, having that flexibility and that ability to bring who you really are, and you work with a whole bunch of people that are very different. I think you and I both probably have that trait, right, because we’ve all done that, to move between worlds or whatever you would say, to thrive that way.
And then if you add the combination of people who are also very connected and networked and like to talk to others and bring others in, you’ve got the best possible type of employee.
And again, it’s some Stanford folks, I think they did something really interesting where they looked at sentiment analysis across all kinds of different inner company communications from people. And they were able to kind of turn that into the culture, distill that into what’s the culture of this group or that group. And then looking at individuals’ characteristics, I think, through some assessments, they’re able to map that out in a way that there’s data that shows that.
So even that… trying to find those types of people or identify those types of people, they can be real catalysts. I mean, happiness is also retaining your own identity, right? Identity is another huge aspect of this, as we’ve started to see. Like, hey, I got tattoos. I was super self-conscious about going into a work environment. And still in some cases. Absolutely it’s appropriate, but boy, being able to be myself and just dress how I want and go do work and do the great work that I feel I can do without being judged or having to hide something, it’s a great feeling. I’ve felt that feeling because otherwise I’m a White male. There’s not a lot more diverse about me. But I got that same feeling that I think people might get, and it made me happy in my work. So I think it’s real.
Yes. And I wish people would hold space for themselves. When I help people make resumes, and for some reason I’ve been doing that a lot lately, and I don’t charge money or anything, for friends. I’ve helped out, and you get these summaries on the top of their resume that’s so “Dear sir or madam” in terms of vibe, right? You’re like, Who are you writing this for? And so I’ll coach them to write something up there. Because no one’s reading your cover letter, it’s 2021, but three sentences answering three questions: Who am I? What am I known for? And why do I want to do this right now? And that’s it. And I tell them to do that first and use it as a litmus test.
So if I go to apply, let’s say I want to apply for a job at Nike. And I catch myself wanting to change the wording that describes who I really am, I don’t change that. I don’t apply because that tells me that if I do, I’m not going to be able to bring my entire self to work, right? So I totally challenge people and ask people to hold their space. Start your resume with the words, “I am.” Hold your space in the world and talk about who you really are. And then if they don’t want you for that, it’s probably mutual and probably a gift.
And if they do, then they know what they’ve got, and you don’t have to apologize for it.
To be able to really find yourself in a job that makes you happy, you got to know who you are and what you want, to your point.
And if you just let that go and say, “Oh, I got to have it.” It’s easy to do because it’s hard to exist and live without a job. There’s not a lot of subsidies a lot of times for people to get out there and make money. And so sometimes it could be hard. That’s why I think coming back to the labor market thing that we have now, this is a great time for people to really not compromise because there’s a lot of jobs out there, right?
I mean, and I’m just curious, what’s it look like for you guys, and you’re a big brand name, I’m sure a lot of people want to come work there, but what’s it like lately for you guys in terms of, and girls in terms of, are you finding enough people? Are you scrambling to get more people in the door? And I’m sure it varies by job, but I’m just curious, what’s the temperature where you’re at?
Yeah, during the pandemic, I think we statistically have become an employer of choice in what we do. And part of it is product driven at Slack. People didn’t even know what Slack was two years ago, and now even Apple uses Slack instead of their own iMessaging platform. So it’s really gotten out there. And I think with that has come some of that traffic, but I feel like the pandemic has just expedited inevitabilities of technology by 10 years. So we find ourselves in this moment where there are more jobs posted right now than there ever have been in the history of our time, in the history of the world, including recruiter jobs. But the unemployment rate is still really high. It’s because industries are changing. So you find also this gap in skill.
And so I think, again, that’s where you have to get really creative with hiring managers because people are looking for things that… And I think in a lot of cases, people aren’t really sure even what they’re looking for. And candidates don’t do a great job of self-selecting into positions that they’re best suited or qualified for. And then in many cases, even when they do come, and they’re well qualified, they’re bringing a resume that more matches what they used to do than what they want to do next. And so I always say, ”The great punchline of the human experience are all of our blind spots.” So we have to help each other. Look at my resume, I’ll look at yours. Ask me some interview questions. Tell me what you think because I think I’m aiming at this, but when I actually talk to the candidate, it’s totally something different, right?
And so a lot of times lately, I feel like conversations with candidates are just coaching conversations. I’m like, “Okay, I hear what you’re saying. That’s not what I just saw. So let’s talk about it. What’s different? What do you really like to do? Okay, because that’s not what I read here. So you’re up to you. I’m not advising you to do this, but if you felt like changing your resume to match more of what you just told me, maybe that’s something I would send along to the hiring manager on your behalf,” right? Just sort of helping people get a little bit clearer. And I think a lot of times, it’s kind of throwing spaghetti noodles at the wall. You just kind of hope something sticks.
Yeah. And every hiring process, too. The other thing, I think, could be a little hard for candidates is, every hiring process looks a little different, even though the key points and interview may be an assessment. But there’s a lot of variability. And so when people are trying to prepare and understand, even craft a resume, I feel like I would tell people, “Just be yourself,” which is really hard because you’re constantly trying to think about what the company wants to see from you if you’re looking for a job and then try to fit that mold. So you’re already trying to be somebody that you may not be. And I think that happens a lot. And so happiness at work, it’s not just on the company, it’s on the individual. And that’s easy for me to say, when someone has bills to pay, and they’re not in work, and they got to work. Sometimes you got to take what you can take. But while you’re doing that, you can still be searching for something else, and you could be understanding who you really are.
And I think that’s more and more that’s happening because it’s being celebrated. And technology has made, and social media, whatever it is… For the downsides of those things, it’s also made self-discovery, self-awareness, finding others that you connect with, it’s never been easier in the whole world. So the tools are there. Job seekers have to be part of it. It’s a symbiotic relationship. It should be. It builds a whole other conversation, the psychological contract, right, where people are bound to organizations because they’re fulfilled, and they’re able to feel valued. And then they work hard, and they love it. And then the company benefits and can pay them more, and it all fits together when it’s done right. It’s easy to say that on paper. It’s harder to make it work so well, so.
Well, yes. It’s scary. I think what we were saying at the beginning, it’s like, things that really matter finally really matter. But it’s also a lot of pressure because you’re exactly right. You have to know who you are. So I always say, on the top of the resume, who am I, what am I known for. And I’ll tell you what, I teach a resume workshop every year to the Junior League of Portland. They invite me back every year. They call me, quote-unquote, “The lady that makes us cry,” which I saw in an email trail that I’m sure they did not mean to forward to me. “Is that the lady that makes us cry? Can we get her back?” And it’s because we do the resume class in two parts. The first part is a half day, and all we do is answer two questions. Who am I? And what am I known for?
And we cry a lot because most times, nobody’s ever asked them that, especially women. And they’ve certainly never been asked to prioritize who they really are above other things that seem more important when you’re applying for work. So I think you’re right. It takes guts to be who you really are. It takes vulnerability, but it also is a new skill for most of us to even figure it out. What does that even mean? And then in the context of work, how do I express that to somebody, right?
Yeah. I mean, everybody has to care. And it may seem like this is pie in the sky stuff, but it’s not. It’s reality. And happiness is what I think every human really, truly strives for, and it’s not always easy to find. And work takes up a lot of our time and energy, and so we certainly want to be happy there. So really awesome conversation. We’re running up on time. And I always end by asking my guest: How can people find you out there in the world if they want to follow you and all the wisdom that you have?
I think the easiest way to find me is just on LinkedIn. I accept every connection and sometimes get through my messages as well, too, but that’s an easy way to catch me for sure.
Cool. Well, thank you so much, my guest, Jenn Longbine, good friend, someone I really look up to. So thanks for your time.
Likewise. Thank you, Charles.