While I’m coming several years late to the party, I finally got around to reading the second book published by author Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point, namely because I’m cheap — and noticed that the book had finally been released in paperback. Not surprisingly, however, this second title by Gladwell is another tour de force (in my opinion) and shares some fascinating insights into the largely overlooked and unstudied ability of human beings to make extremely accurate snap judgments in the blink of an eye.
The application to the job search process? For starters, the author talks at length about how humans naturally engage in “thin-slicing” behavior, summing people up and forming lasting impressions about them in mere milliseconds, based on body language and other cues. Walk into an association meeting, for example, and chances are that you’ll instinctively and automatically start jumping to conclusions about the people you see in the room and how approachable, friendly, and successful (or not) they might be. Such behavior, one could also argue, is also likely to have a massive effect on the outcome of various interviewing processes, raising the question how we could each potentially modify our own appearance, body language, and attitude to start such meetings off on an even more positive note. Even resumes might be subject to this kind of instantaneous scrutiny, if you think about it. What kinds of “vibes” do you think your resume might be sending out, for example, not due to the actual content, but based on the impression your layout and font choices give off?
Another career-related thought I took away from the book relates to the value of experience, itself, and how to sell this value successfully to employers. Time after time, Gladwell points out situations where true “experts” in any given field were able to make superior decisions based on the mix of instincts, intuition, and experience they’ve acquired over the years. Studies even suggest that these judgments often fly in the face of conventional wisdom and that qualified experts simply “know” whether or not a decision is the right one to make in many situations. How might a job seeker therefore promote the value of this experience in terms of their ability to make sound business decisions, ranging from recruiting the right team members to picking the right strategy to follow for a product, program, or company? While many candidates bemoan the rather superficial process many companies use to make hiring decisions these days, it’s also likely that most professionals, themselves, could do a better job of educating potential employers on the practical value of their experience — offering compelling examples of where their hard-earned wisdom made a positive impact on a company’s fortunes, especially in cases where “the facts” suggested another course of action.
In conclusion, even though one would find Blink in the psychology section of a bookstore, as opposed to the career section, the themes it expounds have as much relevance to the interpersonal cauldron of the job market as they do anywhere else. So if you haven’t yet read this “intellectual adventure” story, we’d recommend it highly, and if you haven’t picked it up in a year or two, it might be worth revisiting!