Of the people and companies I spoke to, self-sufficiency was a common thread. They were looking for traits like the following in prospective employees.
- The ability to learn for themselves. Of course companies will be looking to train you, but they don’t want a wet lettuce that sits waiting for the next handout of knowledge. You have to take some personal responsibility.
- Willing to make decisions. There are a lot of people who refuse to step up to the plate when someone has got to make decisions. Typically those people will be the first to start moaning when things don’t go as planned. When push comes to shove you have to be willing to get in there and make a decision.
- Willing to take responsibility for their actions. Sometimes you will make the wrong decision, or make a mistake. It’s important you can recognise your mistake, admit it and move on. Some people will spend incredible amounts of energy trying to hide their mistakes, or prove they were somehow correct. If they just owned up and moved on things would be better for everyone.
- Willing to ask for help when it is appropriate. As much as you need to be self-sufficient, you need to know when it is right to ask for help. Nobody likes to work with a leach that never takes responsibility for things, but by the same token you don’t want someone to spend weeks figuring out something you could have pointed out to them in a couple of minutes. Finding that balance is important.
- Never bullshit! I can’t stress enough how important this point is. Saying I don’t know is a perfectly valid response. People can smell bullshit a mile off and it’s going to make you look stupid. Be honest and you won’t have a problem. It takes a surprising amount of confidence to say I don’t know. People will respect you for it! In an interview you can always redirect the question like, “I don’t know, but it sounds similar to X, which I have done…”, so the “I don’t know” becomes an opening into you speaking about something you are good at…
Check out the rest of this series here.