Whether it’s a permanent career move, an interim assignment or a consulting contract there are 3 key criteria for success in finding a role – Affability, Availability and Ability.
Affability. People buy from people – and even more so when the “product” is a person. Affability has multiple definitions – all of which are relevant here. It can mean “easy to approach”, “friendly”, “at ease”, or “with an obliging manner”. It also means “polite”, “natural” and “warm”. There have been many articles about the importance of Emotional Intelligence and the importance of responding to other’s feelings. Being affable is a convenient shorthand for this – someone who is pleasant to be around because they make people feel relaxed and good about themselves.
It also overlaps with cultural fit – it implies a level of flexibility around interactions with people. This suggests being able to interpret and fit in with the existing culture and communications expectations of the organisation or project team that is being joined.
Think about how you people would see you in an interview context – but also as a member of the team. Would they enjoy working with you?
Availability. This seems very obvious – but its not just whether you are interested in the role and not currently engaged on a longer-term commitment, it is whether people know you are available. Many roles that come up are not advertised – they go to people who are networked with the organisation – or they go via recruiters who have their own lists of people. Unless the person with the role knows that you are – or might be – available, and how to get hold of you, they will pass on to the next person on their list.
A few simple steps can help with this – having an up to date LinkedIn profile is a good start. Having a small list of recruiters who you keep in touch with – and update on status changes is also beneficial for both parties. And finally – networking as much as you can, to ensure that your own circle widens and that people in your circle have a good idea of what you can offer. They need to remember you if they hear of something within their own circle of acquaintances – and are much more likely to do this if it’s a simple and well-defined proposition.
Think about where your next role or opportunity might come from – are they aware of you and do they know that you are interested and available?
Ability. Again, this seems obvious but a few points are worth making. Generally, ability will be a table stake – no one is going to hire you as an FD unless you’re a well-qualified accountant. Once you’ve passed that bar however, how your ability compares with other equivalently qualified candidates may be difficult to assess objectively – and the affability and perhaps availability factors really come into play. Being the “best” candidate has several aspects and it is likely that there will be several very able alternatives.
That said – you’re not going to get to the interview unless you are visibly capable of doing the role – ideally having done it successfully in the past. In line with the availability questions – is your ability to do the role well signposted? Do you have an existing job title or role that indicates you have similar responsibilities – and some information on your profile that shows you have accomplished objectives in line with this responsibility? In short, make sure you look credible, and can be referenced by a contact in your network or a recruiter, who are confident you will not make them look bad if you fall woefully short of the “ability hurdle”.
There are many factors that will influence whether you are successful in getting a role, some of which are outside your control. What you can do though, is ensure you are recognised as Affable, Available and Able. Good luck!