After more than two decades in the Executive Search
business, I have learned a lot about what goes into a
successful hire. I try to impart my knowledge to both hiring
managers and candidates. Nevertheless, at many job
interviews I find myself listening to questions that make me
cringe and answers that make me want to cry.
Now it's my turn to talk.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Very Curious, Indeed

Children learn and grow by being curious.  I know.  As a father, I (sometimes patiently) answered the relentless questions of two little girls as they learned the whys and what-abouts of life. Sometimes we forget that adults also learn and grow by being curious.  If you are not curious about your profession/ your company/ technology/ the world around you – you might as well add the word “forever” to your current title. 

If you enter your office each morning with no interest in anything that occurs before the train ride home at 5:04, your career advancement will be at a snail’s pace, if not as dead as an escargot.   “Same stuff, different day” will define your workplace and all your waking hours spent there.  Forever.

If, on the other hand, you can view the routine of your day in a different light, taking interest in your environment, in what your peers and superiors do, in the activities that drive your department or company, your outlook will have a positive impact not only on your own morale, but on the way others view you. 

I am not suggesting that you make yourself a pain-in-the-ear to your boss by asking inane questions all day.  (Sometimes the challenge is knowing what inane is.)  In fact, curiosity does not need to involve asking questions at all.

Here are some suggestions on how to develop a curious nature:  Try a different way of doing what you have done the same way for the last 879 work days.  Try to solve a problem that has plagued you daily.  Experiment with Word, Excel, Act or whatever technology is a part of your daily job.  Run your fingers across the tool bars at the top of your screen and see what is there.  Talk to a co-worker about his/her job.  Ask your boss if you can take on a project that might add to your knowledge base.  Look into learning opportunities offered by your company.  Take a class outside of your company.  Show an interest in the responsibilities of your “underlings.”  You might be surprised at how much they can teach you.

I cannot guarantee that your new curious nature will win you an immediate promotion to the next level.  But I can assure you that the CEO of your company did not become the CEO without being somewhat curious about what was going on around him/her. 

(Without Steve Jobs’ curiosity and creativity, you would not be reading well-written blogs on your iPad.)

As a recruiter, I look for signs of curiosity in my candidates, whether it is shown in the questions they ask about the current opportunity or the breadth of knowledge they have managed to acquire in the process of “going to work.”  An attitude of curiosity can benefit everyone from an entry level assistant to a CFO trying to improve his/her staff’s processes. 

Curiosity may have killed the cat, but a lack of curiosity can kill a career.

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