I will not begin this blog post by going on a political tirade about who should or should not have won the highest office in the land. So, no worries—this isn’t a political or polarizing post. You may disagree with me, but I can tell you as a bipartisan voter I could not help but notice the parallels between Mitt Romney’s failed run for the Presidency and our own failed attempts at going after “the” job we desire. I have experienced the sting of losing that job I held on such a high pedestal, but fortunately never lost millions in the process. Many pundits and policy wonks will have other ideas of how Romney lost, but here’s my take and how you can avoid the same pitfalls in your own job search.
Failure to Tell Your Story
Everyone loves a story, and if you can capture the imagination you gain interest. And in the case of politics, having a compelling story can take you places. Bill Clinton was the man from Hope, the kid that came from a disadvantaged background, but beat the odds and succeeded. George W. Bush was the black sheep of the family, but fought alcoholism and found faith to help him lead. Barack Obama had dreams of his father and cast a vision of hope for a diverse nation. Mitt Romney undoubtedly has a story, but what story did he tell? Many people knew he was a successful businessman, Governor of Massachusetts, and ran the Salt Lake City Olympics. However, what was his narrative? Besides knowing what was on his resume, what was his personal story?
It is interesting to note that practically anyone with a successful run for the Presidency in the past 15 years wrote a book prior to running for the highest office in the U.S. John McCain wrote Faith of My Fathers that detailed his story as a Vietnam POW. Barack Obama wrote Dreams from My Father that gave a biographical account of his life and that of his parents. Mitt Romney wrote, No Apology: The Case for American Greatness. The book from its description makes a case for the U.S. and for a political platform, but not a person.
As a millennial, the need to start crafting your story now cannot be underestimated. It is important the choices you make in your career, to plan it mindfully. Your choices change the plotline. So, don’t go after any job offer, but ask yourself if this job makes sense as part of the story you want to create for yourself.
Like a politician, you only have a few minutes, perhaps seconds to tell your story when you are on an interview, or on your cover letter. What story are you telling about yourself? It’s the most unique aspect about you. In a sea of resumes it may be your own story that creates a connection with a recruiter or hiring manager.
So, be interesting! When you are faced with situational interview questions think of what stories you can tell and sound interested in yourself when you tell them. Think of your “elevator speech” if you will as the brief description on the back of a book jacket. Would you buy it on Amazon or pick it up from a table at Barnes and Noble?
Beside Every Good Man…
The face of America has changed—and quickly in the past few years. With that, business has also changed drastically, and if it hasn’t, that business can expect to be stifled in its growth. The change—the rising influence and voices of women and minorities.
The Republicans struggled with creating a platform and narrative that women and minorities could connect with and it cost them. The voices of Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock were too near, too backwards, and were not silenced early enough. Mitt Romney did comment on Akin and that his words “hurt the party”. However, it wasn’t enough to eliminate the cloud that fell over the party this election season.
Romney could’ve taken a cue from former Republican President, George W. Bush. One of his top advisors was Karen Hughes. She was influential in helping him relate to women, speaking to issues such as education, and honing the “Compassionate Conservative” image. In trying to Google for “Mitt Romney top advisors women” nothing but websites criticizing his positions on women’s issues come up. The golden opportunity to frame the story was lost because others framed it for him.
Companies that embrace diversity and that are taking the initiative in raising up women and minority leaders are succeeding. These are the companies of today and of the future that will attract millenials looking for organizations that welcome diversity. Millenials are often attracted to companies that are socially responsible, and part of that responsibility comes from embracing diversity. Voices that were once on the fringe of politics and business are becoming increasingly influential.
If you are a millennial, are you looking for a company that embraces diversity? If you are a company in an industry that has been male dominated, what are you doing to actively create a story that is as diverse as America? If you are not doing anything now, start creating that story and read the stories of those people and companies that get it.
Otherwise, expect to begin a losing streak.
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