Saturday, January 20, 2007

How Personnel Selection Resembles Politics

We are into the political season and the prospects of various candidates carry lessons for anyone who wants to see how organizations make personnel selections. Here are a few:

  • The skills that are needed to get selected are not necessarily the ones needed to perform the job.
  • Being nice will get you a long way and being likeable even farther.
  • You must look the part. Personal appearance matters.
  • Humor can be dangerous.
  • No off-hand remark is minor and nothing is off-the-record.
  • Being articulate helps but it is not the only consideration. There are many articulate bumblers.
  • It may not be fair, but your past has a way of catching up with you.
  • The best resume does not always get the job nor should it.
  • The ones who promise you the most are not always your friends.
  • Your allies may come from unexpected quarters. The same applies to your enemies.
  • The prize often goes to the relatively noncontroversial, and not the best qualified, candidate.
  • Selections should be nondiscriminatory on the basis of race, sex, and other irrelevant factors but many times they aren't. Both bigotry and tokenism are alive and well.
  • If you represent change, then the selection board must see a compelling reason for it or you will be seen as unnecessarily disruptive.
  • Optimism usually trumps pessimism.
  • You don't get far by bad-mouthing the entire organization.
  • Negatives about opponents are best raised by others.
  • Timing matters.

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