Lessons from a golfing uncle

On a recent trip home, sitting across from my uncle at the dinner table – a successful man who takes golfing holidays and who I have no idea at all what he does in his self-made, medium-sized business on a daily basis – led to a wonderfully simple insight into the minds of today’s employers. We came to the subject of recruitment and the problem of so many skilled graduates sitting on the scrapheap for months at a time while businesses go hungry for talent. My uncle confirmed that in the beginning his company like so many SMEs recruited ultimately by referral. He and the founders of his company wanted to be sure that anyone new would not only be able to do what it said on their CV, but be willing to do it and with gusto!

This system of referral was bolstered by one simple rule. No family. We’re not the sopranos. But as the company grew bigger, he and his golfing pals hit the same wall all large companies face at some point, you can’t do everything by referral. Eventually, someone’s impressively lethargic cousin will slip through. So how do you find the right people? In the noble quest for talent at my uncle’s company, one thing above all else was a dealbreaker for any candidate: poor attitude. You can put anything on a CV he said, have references from the Pope, the Dalai Lama and Michelle Obama, but none of that proves someone has the right attitude.He wants people who will join the company, because they want to see it grow and develop and not just because they need a job fast or they might spontaneously combust.

The right attitude is something Generation Y has an ubundance of. Bucket-loads in fact. It’s just hard to quantify on paper. We recycle, we bike to work, we run for charity, we happily work for free if it will lead to other opportunities, we take part in exchange programmes, we champion change and we lead innovation. We spend hours online reading about how to better our chances and in the end still fall short of demonstrating how fabulous we are in the rigid format of the CV and cover letter. So we reinvent the CV. We make it 3D, interactive and spray it with perfume. Kiss Kiss. Yet still we remain unemployed in our droves all over Europe.

In the end, you could have the best attitude any employer could hope for, and nobody would ever pick up on it if you’re not networking. There is something to be said for my uncle’s preference for referrals. People with a good attitude have it 24-7. They have it when they meet you for coffee, when they pick up the phone and when they offer their help without expecting something in return. They are not passive agressive, they don’t send mixed signals and they are straight-talkers. They are the kind of people golfing pals slap on the back and say “this is who you want on your team!”. So if you think you have the right attitude prove it and not just during the interview, but every day. Be proactive, be positive, be valuable. You never know who’s paying attention or when your reputation for having the right attitude might get you the right job…

Article by Laura Hemmati, Cofounder Leadarise


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