Thursday, September 22, 2011


Read and forgotten


What happens when a person applies for a job.

The Rerader's Digest version:

    HR reviews the resume to see if the candidate meets the requirements.

    The hiring manager reviews the resume and may decide to interview the candidate.

    The candidate is hired - or not.

    The resume goes into the files, be they paper or electronic, with the intent that the information will be readily available in the future.

    And then the resume is forgotten.

It happens all the time, in all manner of organizations.

Case in point. I was on a contract when I learned that a fellow - a staff person - two doors down from my work area had business continuity experience.

I'm glad I got the job, but the client HAD AN EXCELLENT RESOURCE IN HOUSE.

The guy was doing something other than business continuity and no one either bothered to ASK if anyone in the area had business continuity experience or to check the resume database.

I was hired at one company as an IT business analyst, basically to go between my boss and his customers, people who he promised to give what HE wanted to give them.

Somewhere along the way, a decision was made at a pay grade far above my boss' that the organization needed a business continuity plan, something more than what a colorful Big Name company called "business continuity."

Anyway, I went flying into the boss' office waving my resume and pointing to 8 or so years business continuity experience.

I got to do the plan, my boss ignored the recommendations, the facility was closed for a week due to power outage, and my boss was transferred to a less desirable location. At this point I already was working elsewhere.

While ostensibly employed as a technical writer, my employer needed some marketing created. Having been a marketing director - that and $5 may buy a lousy cup of coffee - at another outfit, I volunteered my services - knowing that HR never read that part of my resume.

At another tech writer job, I reminded my boss that I one flacked for a university and we started some PR/marketing projects "in my spare time." Since I also was a former reporter/editor and printer, we starting producing an internal/external (to our distributors) newsletter, complete with black and white (read "inexpensive") co-op advertisements.

Many people have broad backgrounds, either as a vocation or avocation.

I know people who are HAMs - amateur radio operators who have all manner of equipment, mostly high frequency shortwave, but their knowledge of two-way communications covers the frequency spectrum. A great asset when considering two-way radio as an alternative communications option.

Once, between "real" jobs I worked tinning railroad "stuff."* At one point my boss offered to teach me to drive a forklift. I stupidly passed on the opportunity.

Turns out on my very next "real" job that talent would have been very useful; we needed to move some crates. We had a forklift, but no one - not my boss, not a co-worker, and of course not this scrivener - knew how to operate the machine. We had to wait - and wait and wait - until someone with the skills I could have acquired for free came to drive the forklift to move the crates.

All this leads up to a suggestion that risk management practitioners get to know as many of the folks as possible; chat with them; find out their interests, their backgrounds, their hidden talents and skills.

If you are working for a monster company where the folks on the third floor don't know the people on the sixth, make friends with HR and maybe, just maybe, they can help you identify those hidden attributes.

Or you can make it part of a risk management questionnaire, but be forewarned, in a monster company you'll be burning lots of midnight oil getting all this good information into a database on your computer.

But it could prove to be a very useful exercise.

* I also once worked pickling metal for a CIA front. I didn't know it was a CIA operation then, but it makes a good story now.  

If I wrote it, you may quote it.

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