I was asked to speak at a memorial recently for a coworker of mine who passed away. As I thought about what I appreciated most about her, I realized it was her quirks. I remember every day at 2:00pm, without fail, she would let out a big, loud yawn that half the office could hear. It was as if she was our human alarm clock. There is such a void for us at that time now. She also had a collection of doggie beanie babies above her desk to showcase her love for animals. She wasn’t afraid to be herself and let us all into her life even though we were at work.
So many people are afraid to be themselves at work. They’re rigid and quiet and constantly trying to be whatever their boss or their organization wants them to be. No wonder so many organizations struggle with culture fit issues. Yes, organizations need to do a better job of creating a safe environment for employees to be themselves but we are ultimately responsible for ourselves, our careers and our futures. We need to find an organization that fits with who we are, not just an organization that has a job opening. If all we care about is having a job, we’re going to be miserable everyday.
Be yourself, right from the start when you apply for a job. Yes, you want to be appropriate with your resume but you don’t have to follow all the traditional guidelines. The most popular question I get from jobseekers is whether or not they can have more than one page to their resume. They are so concerned with that. It really doesn’t matter in the end. If there really are recruiters out there who will throw your resume to the side (or in the trash) if it exceeds one page, well, they’re the one with the problem, not you. They’re probably missing out on many great candidates, including yourself. So, just be you. Heck, forget pages! Make your resume an infographic. I did!
Do it again in your interview. If you get that opportunity, ask questions to your recruiter or hiring manager that you really care about. Then, tell them about you. When answering interview questions, don’t think about what the other person wants to hear; just answer honestly and if there’s a funny story that shows your character, share it! I’ll give you an example. One time, I was in an interview and I was asked what my proudest accomplishment was at my previous job. I half-joked that it was convincing 100% of my team to try sushi. The recruiter and I got into a conversation about how she’s the only one in her family and at work that likes sushi and how nice it would be to have a sushi buddy at work. Trust me, that’s not why I got the job but it gave people an idea of what it is really like being around me – my sense of humor, what I like to eat and my inclusion of and influence on others. It also allowed them to relate to me better and ask me better questions.
I’m always looking for quirks and unique characteristics when I interview people. I once did a group interview for a candidate. He answered every question bluntly. When asked what his biggest motivator at work is, he said money. My peers were offended and brushed him off as a potential hire right away. I loved his answer! It was honest. I am so over cliche answers during an interview. I get so bored hearing the same thing over and over again. I’m looking for someone with something new, something exciting, something to prove, something to fight for. I don’t care how many awards someone won or how many projects they completed. I want to hire someone real, someone who will think for themselves and produce new, crazy ideas! I want to hire someone who isn’t afraid to be quirky, different or silly at work. I don’t want to hire someone who hides behind a fake persona of what he/she thinks I’m looking for.
I encourage you to go on and be YOU at work. Show your personality, your character. Dare to be quirky!
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