Getting ahead in a competitive job search

One of my favorite routines on Sunday nights is to open the business section of the New York Times to Adam Bryant’s column. I read an interview with President and C.E.O., of Red Hat, Jim Whitehurst. He is the provider of Linux and other open-source-technology.

There was one particular comment that impressed me, and one which is certainly guaranteed to help someone stand out while interviewing for a job in today’s challenging work environment. The comment was also poignant because the situation had arisen with one of my own clients looking for a position wherein I cautioned the client to do much more than prepare for simple questions such as describe a situation where you failed.

The comment by Jim Whitehurst.. “I would be all over you understanding the business… where it’s been, where it’s going, what you see as the future of it… I want to know if you have enough innate curiosity and analytical and conceptual skills, to frame strategically where you stand… to me it signals that the person isn’t in it just for himself. …If you’re really trying to understand the whole business, that says you’re not spending 100 percent of your time just making sure you nail your own job. ”

I love this way of thinking. I recently spoke to someone who currently is employed and I asked him what was his priority at his work. His response made me think about the work environment and how it could be better for both employers and employees. His response was “it’s important that I show up to work everyday and do my job”. As a leader of a company, that would not be enough. Whitehurst continues in his interview, “a boss is developing the people working for you; so many bosses don’t see that. You have to recognize that no matter how good you are, you’re only as good as the people who are working for you and how you’re developing them. A lot of people focus on the outputs and not the inputs that help them get there. ”

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