The Poser

Hold that pose.

Career guidance in social and formal media is fundamentally contradictory. The prescriptions for success are mixed and dangerously at odds.

Getting In

We inveigh considerable energy teaching aspiring job holders how to successfully complete the interview process. Eg, the 10 questions they’ll ask, the one thing you need to know, your three keys to interview success, et all.

Mind you, the advice is pretty good. But its a lot to try and inculcate and remember.

The message? Work hard enough and you too can shape your current lifeless career lump into a smart and attractive model employers will respond to.

Do this, say that, get hired.

Getting On

Once in the door however we face a new paradigm: we want authenticity.

Now you’ve got to be yourself: no more posing.

We debate about the meaning of and need for authenticity in the workplace. Be yourself (everyone else is taken), be who you are, open your self up to others, etc. Authenticity makes for an impactful worklife experience, so bring it.

We’re Confusing People

This juxtaposition of two unlike selves – the pre and post-hire being – is not unlike Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) a state in which two or more personalities coexist within one body causing multiple challenges to maintaining a life based in reality.

We have multiple personality disorder.

We know interviews are a poor way to select talent. The best run companies have been using variations on the total assessment process for more than 50 years considering education, experience, resumes, projects, patents, papers, awards, etc to determine who might best fit their environments. Importantly, our social media footprint is now another factor to be considered as well.

Given that, channeling ‘interview behavior’ probably doesn’t help much.

And of course we want authenticity in the workplace yet perhaps not the whole experience. Its authentic for me to wear nothing but shorts and t-shirts 12 months of the year but no employer other than Apple seems to have appreciated that.

The Bridge

Asking people to contort themselves into a job only to then say “be yourself” afterwards is mistaken if not painful. Employers need to be clear about what counts in the workplace (skills, competencies and character) and look for reasons to add talent, not exclude it.

There is no model candidate no matter how much molding we do.

Job seekers – and holders – need to accept that authenticity is not license to disregard culture and do whatever we want but an invitation to drop pretense and get on board with what we’re all about.

Each of us can find a culture that resonates if we know ourselves and what matters. And thus be ourselves.

We need to get past prescribing behavior to focus on integrating desire and contribution and culture. Choice is as much about what we won’t do as what we will.

We would get a lot more done if we spent less time attempting to convince others we can do it.


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