Contact theSOPAbout theSOPSupport theSOPWritersEditorsManaging Editors
theSOP logo
Published:May 3rd, 2013 12:12 EST
We Don`t Hire You For What You Do, We Hire You For How You Think

We Don`t Hire You For What You Do, We Hire You For How You Think

By Jay Forte

Why do we pay employees? This is important to know if you are job searching. Employees in great companies are not paid to do a job; instead, they are paid to think about the best, most efficient and most profitable response to each moment of their day. Employers pay employees to think through their situations and to choose wisely and in favor of customers and the organization. Few workplace situations are the same.    

What hiring managers want most in the interview and job candidate sourcing process is to be able to assess how candidates can add value and make a difference. To do this, they will have to check in on how you think, and if your thinking approach matches the approach needed to be successful in the job. 

Remember this. Our economy changed. Much of manufacturing moved off shore. Most of the skill and experience jobs left in favor of service jobs. Few employees are now behind machines; instead, they are face-to-face or phone-to-phone with customers. Customers rarely want the same things as other customers, in the same ways. So to be exceptional in today`s jobs, we must show up present, thinking and aware of the needs and interests of each customer. No more one-size-fits-all responses. This is a very different from working behind machines doing similar tasks all day.

As the economy and performance have changed, sourcing and hiring new employees has changed. Great and smart companies are now hiring for fit " they assess the candidates` talents, strengths and passions and determine if they match those needed to be successful in the job. Hiring has changed.

To get hired in today`s workplace, you need 3 things: 

  1. Know the behaviors needed to be successful in a job and determine if you have those behaviors. We have thinking jobs, and since not all of us think the same, not all of us fit the job. So, apply only for jobs that fit you. Not sure? Take a talent assessment, spend some time becoming more self-aware or define the behaviors that have made you successful in your past. Compare these to the behaviors defined in the job ad. Your success in a job isn`t whether you have done it before. All jobs are different and experience in one doesn`t necessarily transfer as valuable to another. What makes you valuable is whether you have the core behaviors " the thinking " needed to be successful in the job. You also need to have an interest in the job. This provides the energy to work at it to do it well. Hiring managers are watching for both of these " ability and interest. 
  1. Make it easy for the hiring manager " use a talent-based resume. These are new on the scene and are more focused about your abilities than your employment history that a skill- and experience-based resume would present. Remember, just because you have done something before doesn`t mean you are good at and like doing it. And to be successful today, these are the two attributes A-level companies are hiring for " ability and interest. The skill and experience resume made sense in an industrial repetitive task age. In today`s thinking age where each day is different, a better way to summarize your potential is to define your abilities, then to share some experience that shows your abilities in action. How you think matters almost more than what you have done and what skills you have. Let your resume share the holistic view of you " not just what you have done, but your talents, strengths and passions. After all, they are not hiring a part of you " they are hiring the whole you. And using this format shows that you took the time to apply in a way that made sense for the company and the job. These are ways to stand out. 
  1. Ditch the cover letter. Why tell the hiring manager information that is already present in the resume? Instead, replace it with the answer to this one great question, Why you are a great fit for the job? " Though hiring managers want the specifics from your resume (to verify the integrity of what you provided " so be accurate and honest), they also want to get a brief and candid response on why you see this job as a great fit for you. This is to prove that you understand the job, understand you and can explain how they fit together. This also shares your ability to write something clear and effective. And if in this exercise you can`t connect your abilities to those needed in the job, maybe you shouldn`t apply. 

The great business writer and speaker Tom Peters said, If you blend, you lose. " This is sage advice for job seekers. To get hired you have to stand out. To stand out is not to do the bizarre by sending unusual things, resumes on colored paper and plastic, meeting hiring managers at their cars or buying them gifts (all of these have been done). To stand out, simply give the hiring manager something that shows how your abilities match those needed to be successful in the job. This is the best way to show how you can add value and make a difference. This is the stand out a great hiring manager is looking for and helps you rise above all other job seekers. 

Jay Forte, a former CFO and corporate educator, now founder and President of The Greatness Zone, is a workplace and life coach, speaker and author of Fire Up! Your Employees and Smoke Your Competition and The Greatness Zone " Know Yourself, Find Your Fit, Transform The World. He works with organizations to help them attract, hire and retain a superstar workforce, and with people to discover their unique abilities to find their fit in work and life. Resources at and