Generative v. Extractive Career Search

We all know the war for talent is heating up and is going to get real hot, real soon. But why should any organization choose you over the other 300 individuals who applied for the same position? We can talk about resumes, unique selling propositions, personal branding and the strength of your network, but in simple terms, lets determine whether you generate value for, or, extract value from your job search stakeholders.

As Umair Haque describes in his book, Betterness, real human welfare can be derived from natural, financial, intellectual, human, social, emotional and/or organizational capital. Each of your stakeholders will derive value from the above types of capital in various quantities. Your goal, during your job search, is to learn how to generate one (or more) of the above types of capital for your stakeholders.

When competing with 300 other job seekers, you shouldn’t just have a competitive advantage (one where you take value from others and give nothing in return); you should have a generative advantage. This is a brand in the marketplace known for constantly adding value to any outcome for any stakeholder.

A generative job search looks like:

  • After an interview, you take the time to send a hand-written card to the interviewer.
  • When you are searching job boards, you send openings to your colleagues who are also looking for meaningful work.
  • You share, via social media, job search tips or helpful books/websites with your network.
  • A friend has just been rejected for a role she really wanted; you take an hour to console and conduct a lessons learned session with her.
  • You make connections into organizations (potential employer) for the purpose of introducing your colleagues to recruitment staff or decision makers.

An extractive job search looks like:

  • You do not research the company or interviewer prior to your interviews.
  • You submit the same generic resume to jobs across a variety of industries and functions.
  • You do not meet colleagues at mutually beneficial locations and you arrive late.
  • You choose to sabotage competing candidates via online or on ground avenues.
  • During an interview, you are unprepared and do not follow instructions.

I am sure you can add items to either of my lists. Please feel free to make lists of your own. Create one (the generative list) that you will do consistently moving forward, and the other (the extractive list) that you agree to never do.

May I suggest that your biggest job search threat today isn’t external (i.e. your stakeholders, others applying for similar roles), it’s internal. Envisioning your dream career, creating a unique personal brand and landing the job becomes much easier when you live up to your potential and constantly generate value for those around you.

With realization of one’s own potential and self-confidence in one’s ability, one can build a better world.” –Dalai Lama