Example 1)

Wolter is a candidate who has almost finished his degree in Food Technology and together we discuss his career opportunities.  I ask him extensively how he has completed his studies, whether he has taken on part-time jobs and what the bottlenecks were in his studies. During the conversation, we speak about the course of his study programme, extracurricular activities, and difficulties he experienced during his college time. After speaking with him, I have a good idea of who he is and what he aspires to.  Wolter has a hands-on mentality, however, he is also very thoughtful and is curious about the details

When speaking about his internship, he enthusiastically explains the project he has conducted at a large brewery. He shows responsibility, but he also seems to be interested in more and in the background of the work he carried out.

I ask him if he would like to work there full-time. He immediately replies: “No, I would not want to work there”. Together, we try to find out why. On the one hand, he is very excited about his project at the company, but on the other hand, he does not want to work there. As it turns out, the internal atmosphere within the company did not appeal to him. According to Wolter, “Everyone works in a very individual and indepent manner”, which does not fit with Wolter’s social profile. He likes to brainstorm, to discuss the work (to a certain limit), and to be involved in a team. Despite the fact that the work itself is very nice, working on an ‘island’ doesn’t suit him.

This again underlines that a job is so much more than simply completing tasks.

Example 2)

I was talking to a well-educated lady who was completely done with her employer after eight years of service. Initially, her job seemed to be a perfect match; she learned a lot and got to handle several international accounts, which she did in a very professional way. The results were satisfactory to her employer. Two years ago, she completely burned out and since then she has had the feeling she did not fit the team anymore. During her burn out, it seemed like nobody really missed her, which made her feel like a dispensable working bee.

During our conversation, it turned out that her self-esteem was moderate. This was partially due to her home situation, where she had set the bar too high for herself. Her job unconsciously formed her identity to prove herself and show the outside world that she was somebody and that she was successful. Unfortunately, in a world where financial profit is more important than the way in which results are achieved, this is often the case.

I find it quite clarifying to introduce “metaphors” in these kinds of conversations. A kind of Dick-and-Jane-example. I told her the following story:

“John was born a screwdriver. Naturally, human beings are much more complicated than screwdrivers, but this is merely an example. John was capable of a lot of things, but, without realizing, he lived in a world of nails which made him eventually doubt about whether there was anything he actually could do right. He looked up at Harry the hammer, because Harry could do so much more than him. He always hit nails on their head, and then he would look pitying at John’s useless attempts to even hold a nail straight. John’s self-esteem hit rock bottom before someone took him to an area where there were screws. It took a little while before John realized that he belonged here, but after a while his self-image gradually improved to a healthy level. John excelled at something, which was new to him. John was capable of things that Harry, the hammer, was not, and this insight spurred him on in his growth.

The story ends with a partnership between John and Harry in which they tackle issues together… 1 + 1 = 3. “

It sounds plain and simple, but my candidate (and many others) recognized herself in this.

Together we started looking for an environment where not just her skills, but also her personality was recognized and appreciated.
A good example of an employee who discovered that work is more than just a physical activity and a job is more than just a desk and a keyboard.

In for some non-binding/noncommittal brainstorming?