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How to Get Hired into an Agile Company: Part 1

So, you want to work for one of those great organizations you’ve heard about. You know, the one with the great culture, people love working there, they empower their people, they support and embrace innovation, they work in teams and focus on customers, not just the bottom line. They’ve simplified what they do and promote safety as opposed to blame or fear. This is the company that sincerely believes their people are their greatest assets as opposed to it simply being a wall poster designed to make leadership feel better hanging outside the HR Director’s office. Flex hours, come as you are, be who you are, and enjoy what you do are the norm; not the goal. They also have a great break room...

How to Get Hired into an Agile Company: Part 1

“How do I get in?” you ask. “What kind of person are they looking for?” “What do I need to do to be an attractive candidate?”

Here are some things to keep in mind about this company.

First, they most likely didn’t get to this point overnight. Very few organizations, outside of your typical tech startup, have this type of culture out of the gate. They usually had to go through their own growing pains to find out who they wanted to be. In many cases, they were forced to start making those decisions based on factors such as competition, market changes, customer demands, and the new infusion of talent going into the market with expectations that the previous 100 years of workforce is not familiar with.

That ties into the second item which is what the workforce will look like in, not 20, not 10, not even 5 years. How about the next 2 ½ years? By 2020, 1 in 3 of the workforce will be millennials. This means the culture of an organization must adapt to accommodate that massive influx of culturally diverse (and aware) talent and appeal to the greater numbers (Teaser Alert: More on how to hire those folks in the second post of this blog series). So, if you want to appeal to a company who is specifically focusing on changing its culture to accommodate those changes, you must be willing to adjust yourself and your skills to adapt to the organization’s efforts.

When you take into consideration that this company went through pains to get here (most likely incurred expenses to make physical, procedural and org chart adjustments), is much more highly integrated with onboarding technologies and social media, and is catering to hire a workforce that is defining an entire generation, you quickly see the need to revamp resumes and find ways to reinvent yourself.

My father used to say that you had to reinvent yourself every 10 years. This was 20 years ago.

I would argue that in today’s increasing pace of change, you now should reinvent yourself iteratively and continually. The company described above wants to bring on people who get the culture they’ve worked so hard to groom. They want someone who understands team models and the social nuances associated with getting a group of culturally and socially diverse people together to learn about both each other and their customers. The last thing they want to do is bring someone on who presents themselves on paper well but becomes a cancer to all they’ve tried to achieve.

If you have typically worked in large enterprises who were slow in changing this culture, here are a few tips for making the adjustments:

  1. Start researching these organizations now: how they operate, who their customers are, who they partner with and what the culture is. The more you can learn about them, the more they will feel like you truly care about maintaining what they have worked so hard to build.
  2. Look for opportunities in professional development outside of certifications such as networking, meetups, community involvement, etc. These companies appreciate that you are trainable, but many have become “cert-savvy”, meaning they may consider a litany of acronyms next to your name as a desperate attempt to make yourself look better because your work can’t speak for itself.
  3. Clear your resume of anything indicating how well you tell others what to do. Phrases like “I drove this team” or “I managed this group” sound very command and control. A company like this wants influential people who are servant leaders and team players. Look for those experiences in your background and emphasize them.
  4. Get social media savvy. Sorry folks…even with the data leaks and political impacts, having a social media presence helps you land a job. It’s almost to a point where, if you don’t have something online for them to look at, you must be hiding something. The Twitters, Facebooks and LinkedIns of the world (amongst others) have proven useful even to the point of allowing you to apply for a position directly from that site. Show them you can stay up to date and not embarrass them by posting your brother-in-law’s inappropriate Vegas bachelor party pics.
  5. Finally, start mentoring and leading changes where you work now. Look for opportunities to be a part of cultural shifts to help the company you are with to become that company you want to work forBe the solution. Be the leader that is known for having the mindset. Like the company mentioned above, it won’t happen overnight so be realistic with yourself. The journey of 1000 miles begins with that single step.

I’m not promoting that you fundamentally change who you are as a person. Sometimes you also need to find that company who fits you as well. These are simply a few tips that might help if you see one of these modern organizations you want to be a part of and want to give yourself the best chance to get there.

But what if you ARE the company mentioned above, or striving to be, and are looking to hire the right people who will promote the changes you are painstakingly (and sometimes expensively) trying to implement? How do you entice the right people, the cultural fits and the influencers?

Watch for Part 2 of this blog which will provide techniques for hiring those great employees!

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