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Career Hacker: How hungry are you?

August 05, 2014

Driving to work last winter in 25-degree weather in Chicago, a news story on the radio caught my ear. An 18-year-old boy had tragically lost his mother a few years earlier in an accident that left him, his dad and his younger siblings on their own. But it was not the tragedy that struck me, but the boy’s response to it. You see, after his mother’s passing, he had to help assume responsibility for raising his younger siblings, and he took extraordinary measures to do so.

The boy had no car, no money, no college degree and a limited skill set by most people’s standards. But this young man did not let all this stop him. He received a job interview 10 miles from his house for a job most people would think beneath them. He prepared for the interview and started to walk—all 10 miles to the job interview. Without a car or even bus fare, the boy decided to do whatever it took to make the interview. Which leads me to my question for IT job seekers: How hungry are you? Because the answer to that question will determine how far you go in your career.

This man’s determination paid off. During his long walk, he asked for directions from a married couple; when the couple saw him later still walking, they stopped and offered to drive him the rest of the way to his interview. During that drive they heard this young man’s story. The husband, an owner of a local restaurant, decided to offer this young man a job in his restaurant. You see, what this restaurant owner knew was that anyone who would walk 10 miles for a job interview is hungry to work and would make a great employee. He had the drive most employers are looking for.

I am sure many of you are objecting, saying there are so many other things that make a great employee. And you are right; there are many characteristics that make a great employee, such as experience and skill. But in competitive fields or a less-than-stellar economy, it all starts with the question of how hungry you are. Are you hungry enough to walk 10 miles to a job interview? Are you hungry enough to take the extra time to research the company you are interviewing with? Are you hungry enough to dress your best for the interview? Are you hungry enough to have thought of insightful questions to ask during an interview? Are you hungry enough to review your resume to make sure you can talk intelligently about your experience during the interview?

If you answered no to any of these questions then you might be trouble. If you’re competing for a desirable job, know that one of your competitors has answered yes to all these questions. There is someone out there who will walk 10 miles to a job interview because they are hungrier than you are … and even if you have a more impressive pedigree, they will probably get the job. Good employers can sense a candidate’s drive and willingness to compete, and they know a motivated (hungry) employee is better than one with a great resume. So ask yourself, “How hungry am I?” as you continue on your job search journey.

Wes Claudio is a long-time IT recruiter who helped build the TEKsystems Consultant Retention Program and now leads delivery/recruiting operations in downtown Chicago. He believes jobs help give purpose to people’s lives and is passionate about helping clients achieve fulfillment through meaningful careers. In his spare time, Wes enjoys reading, running and being an active dad participating in a variety of activities with his three kids.

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