Election vs Selection: What a Difference the "S" Makes

During election season, people are expected to participate in due diligence regarding who to vote for among a slate of offices. We carefully assess each candidate in light of the future paths that we have elected to pursue for ourselves and want for our communities, states and country.

While we as individuals do the electing, political parties in the U.S. do the selecting. Although some candidates run as independents, most of those on a ballot are selected to run by political parties. They were chosen based on the prospect of who will best move the party forward.

In an interesting and often frustrating twist, once in office or hired, the “winners” often elect to define themselves rather differently than we may have expected based upon their campaign promises, resume or talents. The reverse is also true, as politics and organizations may not live up to the candidate’s expectations once he or she is selected or voted in.

When it comes to executive search and placement, the verbs and scenarios are similar. Individuals elect favored roles, while organizations screen and select candidates they judge as best for moving the organization forward. And, when all is said and done, the twists of not living up to expectations can also ring true.

The wise adage: “Be careful what you ask for…you may get it” applies in both politics and careers.

Due Diligence in Search and Selection
Whether you are doing the hiring or are a candidate who may be hired, the degree of careful discernment in election and selection makes all the difference.

The candidate needs to apply as much (some might say, even more) thought to voting for a career opportunity as does the hiring party. Far too often, candidates imperil their futures by making a career decision on "a wing and a prayer" rather than through studied thought and research.

Surely, the hiring organizations suffer with unwise hires at times. Yet, a candidate who errs in accepting a poorly fitting opportunity must deal with the immediate fallout from the move, and the outcome will be carried career-long as well. Departed employees find themselves under greater scrutiny about their past career decisions than do the organizations that they left.

The Importance of Focus
Whether the candidate or hiring organization, many times the employment engagement is a matter of casting a net widely, rather than spearing a trophy. 

Classic job search advice suggests that “networking”, or “seeing what’s out there” is the best way to go. Meanwhile, firms also cast a wide net, whether through recruiters or job postings. Both sides are playing the odds that plenty of suitable and available matches are poised just for them.

In this classic scenario, employers set their selection criteria to facilitate the resume screening process. Meanwhile, candidates don’t participate in a process of electing their choice opportunity. Rather, they expend their energies far too widely, trying to avoid being overlooked by a potential hiring party.

Candidates don’t improve their election odds by placing a bet on every potential employer that they might approach. Our work life is not a gambling career, although there seem to be far too many employers still willing to take a gamble on selecting new hires on just that premise.

Picking a Winner
Applying due diligence on both sides of the hiring equation offers all parties the opportunity to focus on the most critical characteristics of their ideal catch. Patient exploration and spearing the trophy deals makes much better sense than casting a net and then sorting through less suited options.