A few of us non-traditional, mold-breaker, non-conformist, square pegs in a land of round holes occasionally jokingly refer to ourselves as unemployable. And, in certain ways that isn’t far from accurate.

If we look throughout history we find plenty of well-known business and leadership success stories that wouldn’t have been possible if those responsible didn’t push boundaries or shake a big stick in the direction of the status quo.

Yet examples like that tend to be anomalies in modern society.

As much as the concept is glamorized by prominent keynote speeches, in reality there doesn’t seem to be much tolerance for being different or thinking differently.

In the mainstream game we play in order to earn a paycheck to sustain ourselves, only the upper echelon of any given organization structure is permitted that type of behavioral leeway.

So why is it on the one side of the spectrum we celebrate, even worship innovators and brave souls that build, change and create, and on the other end, we force compliance, value complacency and foster a go-along-to-get-along mentality? The former certainly sounds more valuable to society as a whole. However the latter is more of a true reflection of the comfort zone we cling to in our contemporary work world.

That begs the question: beyond having a decent work-ethic and requisite knowledge, skills and abilities within one’s chosen occupation, what else does it take to obtain and maintain employment?

The majority of us would probably agree that most (perhaps all) final hiring decisions are primarily based on subjective criteria. Once the above baseline “qualifications” are established through analysis of objective data, all that remains are intangible factors that we process through our personal filters.

All else being relatively equal among available candidates that cross the initial threshold of proving their job-worthiness through ability, motivation, attitude and aptitude, open jobs eventually go to whoever is deemed the best fit. As in the third part of: who can do the job; who will do the job; and, who will we enjoy/tolerate working with in that job?

While the first two segments correlate to a reasonable assessment of employability, hiring decisions tend to be heavily weighted on the last part which is usually predicated on several ambiguous attributes ascertained through limited exposure. That being the case, what DOES it mean to be employable?

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Comment by Kelly Blokdijk on March 15, 2014 at 6:37pm

@Keith - Matt does get invited and does speak at various events. I've seen it with my own eyes. Clearly you are mistaken in grouping me in that "respected" category though. That't not the word on the street, at all! 

Anywho, I'm sure you saw the same list put out recently by another industry site for an upcoming event. All speakers hail from household name companies and are heads of their respective HR/recruiting function at those employers of choice. Anytime that isn't the case, it is due to that individual having already established him/herself as a well-known and sought-after speaker, consultant or specialist in a particular topic of interest. 

Not that I have the personal budget or any current corporate resources permitting me to attend any such events, but if I did, I agree it would be highly beneficial and informative to hear from people (like you) doing the real work in the real world. I'm guessing attendance would be much lower if presenters came from places no one ever heard of. And it's probably just not sexy enough to hear from those who have to actually work hard to find, attract and hire the right talent for without the draw of company name recognition. 

Have a fabulous weekend! ~KB 

Comment by Keith D. Halperin on March 17, 2014 at 2:40pm

Score a three-pointer, Kelly!. In deed I have.

Matt, you should introduce Kelly to Bill B, if she isn't already connected. We recruiters need people like her to do Unconference speaking/moderating so we can fix the problems the speakers at big expensive conferences create for us when the attendees take their advice!



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