Big Data is the new comfort zone for decision-makers who fear taking action or making a choice without justifiable cause. The decision might be wrong, but if they’ve made it based on an assemblage of data points: there’s some cover and conversation rather than more draconian measures, like getting fired.
Data matters so much to so many that The McKinsey Global Institute predicts the US will need nearly two million data savvy analysts and managers in the next eight years. Now you might not want to go quant for a career; however, you do want to be numbers oriented when it comes to making the case for getting hired. And, it’s the numbers that measure your achievements, ambition, plans and activities that matter to recruiters.
It all goes back to the prescient comment by Edward Deming in the 1950s. The quality guru famously propounded: you cannot manage what you can’t measure. That’s because incremental and continuous process improvement needed something to hang onto. How would you know if the plant was getting better, more productive, faster, more effective or cost efficient with less defects if you didn’t have a baseline? And, then you’d logically want regular snapshots or updated data to see if your changes were helping you make progress.
It’s like weighing yourself everyday or at some regular interval. The scale has the answer. It’s a number that objectively demonstrates that the dry cleaner did not shrink your jeans. The extra ten pounds you’re ignoring until your waistband is screaming shows up when you look down and what you weigh cannot be denied.
A recruiter is like every other person in business whose job it is to gather information, do a comparative analysis and make recommendations. Collecting data on you is the simplest and safest way to sort through the wildly positive recommendations everyone collects on LinkedIn and reconcile that with the limited experience you have or the skills you might be lacking, but could learn. After all, very few people hired for a job actually fit all the job requirements. That’s why knowing someone is still the best way to get a job. Better to have someone vouch for your character and recommend you for your sunny nature than reach into the grab bag of resumes to pick a mystery candidate.
You should be supplying data on yourself. This is your way of proving you can be managed (or that you can manage) because you understand the importance of measurement. Plus, you should be your own best recommendation, with real facts and measurements about what you have achieved rather than the vague props that appear on your LinkedIn love line.
Data is critically important if you don’t have the experience or skill set a recruiter has been set out to locate. Obviously, it won’t be data on what you haven’t done that they are looking for. It will be data on what you have done that helps them predict you are a good investment.
The best data is what I call “startling statistics.” These are facts that surprise us to the point we are startled. That means we stop and listen (or read) so we can regain our balance. You’ve seen this startle response if you go to the theatre, especially the philharmonic or opera. Someone in your row begins to nod off and then snore, until their head drops and the pull on their neck startles them awake. Or their spouse elbows them.
You want to startle recruiters with data about your life and times. For example, one of the most impressive sets of statistics I have ever heard from a job candidate was about something he did in elementary school. As a nine year old, he got a hand-me-down lawn mower and started cutting neighbors’ lawns for five dollars a week in summer. He shoveled the snow off their driveways in winter at five bucks a pop, and tripled his income because he lived in New Jersey and shoveling was practically a full time job before he left for school on snowy mornings. He persevered until he saved enough money to buy a ski jacket, equipment and boots when he entered junior high. Years later he made the ski team in high school. The data proved that early in life he had amazing initiative, plus the ability to do really hard work and the self-control to save up for a long-term goal. Hired!
What startling statistics could you compile about what you have done? What startling statistics about your life – where you have traveled, what you have done for a social cause, or how many hard jobs you’ve held – would give us the data we need to hire you based on your character and the qualities that are part of your personal brand?
Of course, if you can startle us about what you have accomplished that directly speaks to the job that’s open: great. But if not: reflect back on your life and calculate the many numbers that allow us to meaningfully measure what matters about you. Perhaps it’s your compassion, poise, motivation, congeniality, logic or patience?
I have worksheet on how to create startling statistics about your personal history and personal brand. If you would like it, email me at [email protected]. Subject line: Startling Statistics.
Nance Rosen is the author of Speak Up! & Succeed. She speaks to business audiences around the world and is a resource for press, including print, broadcast and online journalists and bloggers covering social media and careers. Read more at NanceRosenBlog. Twitter name: nancerosen