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Friday, September 21, 2012

The "Perfect" Candidate

September is coming to a close and I can't help thinking about how long it's been since I was laid off. October 26th, 2012 is only a few weeks away, but October 26th, 2011 still feels like a few months back. I can't stress enough how much of a relief it was to be laid off. That said, I've been ready to get back into a full-time job situation for months.

I haven't been lazy, as I have stressed many times before. Every promising job lead, I've looked into. Frustratingly, when trying to go outside of my realm with jobs, I run into a brick wall created by recruiters.

Loosely, I understand why companies have recruiters, but I can't wrap my head around something that I frequently experience. Great people who fit the personality and most of the job description don't get considered while mediocre people who don't fit the personality and have all of the skills in the description get considered.

Which leads me to this question: is there such thing as a "perfect" candidate? As in, someone who has the unbeatable resume, says the right things in an interview, and excels at everything asked of him or her.

Sure, there is such a thing as a perfect candidate who becomes the perfect employee, but I'm not so sure it's always clear in the weeding out process. On paper and in an interview, these people are technically qualified, but whether or not they last is another story. When recruiters are looking for a specific kind of person with skills in highly-specific things, I don't really see how successful their hiring process can be without taking other matters into consideration. A leap of faith sounds out of the question.

I consider myself a competent employee who is open to trying new things, working independently, and working with a team. All the jobs I've held, I was not technically 100 percent qualified for going into them. I was fortunate to be hired by people who saw potential in me, beyond what I wrote down in an application or a resume. There were things to be learned on the job; things that were easily taught after a day or so on the job. Whether it was stocking CDs in a certain order, assembling a table and cash cube for a promotions event, or typing traffic problems into a database, I had never done those things prior to being hired.

A story I like to share in interviews involves the time I was asked to fill in for Rebecca Flores at CBS 11 and learn a whole new traffic graphics program in one morning. Previous times filling for Rebecca, I did everything from the office with an ISDN line. But when they changed vendors with their graphics, there was no other way I could learn the program.

I had to go in the CBS studio in Fort Worth. Not only did I have to learn graphics, I had to learn how to coordinate TxDot cameras, talk into an IFB, and create entire traffic reports sans any help from the producers at the station. John and Matt McCarty, who helped design the program, were gracious enough to come into the studio and show me how the graphics worked. Within ten minutes, I had a handle of things and that morning's show went off without a hitch. Not too bad for something, on paper, I wasn't qualified for.

As interesting as that story is and how I think it illustrates my knack for learning things on the job, that has yet to translate into landing my next job. I know there is (or will be) a company out there that will appreciate what I can do and sees potential in me. Still, it's a constant point of frustration when you know you can do a lot but life seems to tell you no.

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