Did you Leave your Career DNA Behind?

Originally posted on Healthcare Informatics

No, it’s not a question for another True Crimes episode, but I hope the title of this post makes you stop and think about the little things you leave behind when you change jobs. I recently completed an assignment for a client in New York and took some time over the holidays to reach out and talk with this candidate’s previous co-workers and supervisor. It wasn’t going to be a typical 10-15 minute ‘reference check’ type-call. I asked my questions and while the SVP was kind enough to respond to each inquiry with favorable answers, I wanted more – much more – than just short sound-bites.

I often talk about moving the needle and making an impact wherever your career takes you, and I like to know the how, when, and where of exactly what a candidate accomplishes along the way. 99% of the time I get all the details I’m looking for, but it’s that 1% that drives me to dig a bit deeper. This holiday check was going to be one of those dig deeper, have-shovel-will-travel kind of calls. The reference was polite and to the point, but I just could not tie down the specifics from his answers. What had my candidate actually accomplished? The conversation had to take a path less traveled – so I went in a different direction with my questions.

I asked if his former director had done anything that’d had lasting impact on the organization. He thought for a moment… “well actually, he made a huge impact on our customer delivery process”. Now we were getting somewhere. He went on to tell me about a process my candidate had implemented several years ago that’s still being used today and explained what it means to the way they support their customers. This process – designed and implemented by the candidate we placed – was apparently a game changer for the organization and five years later, the process is still being used today. It didn’t exist before he made it happen, and now it’s associated with my candidate and has a name that is well known by everyone in the department. Now this is what matters to me and to my clients.

I want the where, what and when of what you did: that’s what matters. The ‘where’ and ‘when’ of the reference is almost always on the resume – in black and white. It’s the ‘what’ that you did during your stay that matters most.

Some people leave their DNA and make a lasting impression wherever their career takes them. Others appear to just be passing through. How about you?