When hunting for a job, know energy levels

So you’re 24, 40 or 50-plus and you don’t — or no longer — set the world on fire. Job hunters with low energy need to factor that into their searches by seeking more stable industries and functions that don’t require them to take charge of a project or team. Scour job descriptions, assess whether you fit and gain perspective on energy in company culture.


How can you determine what’s truly needed? Read job descriptions carefully to ascertain whether you can fulfill requirements naturally. Look for clues about energy. Attorney Michele Beilke of Reed Smith LLP in Los Angeles says that energy level can be essential to some jobs. “While it is generally better (for companies) to outline the conduct desired and avoid general statements, having high energy and focus can be essential job functions of professional athletes, sales forces and many service professionals,” she says.

“Energy level is more often equated with effort and enthusiasm,” Beilke says, adding that an unenthusiastic applicant may legally be turned down.

Scout for clues in a posting requiring “\u2009‘an outgoing personality’ or an ‘ability to captivate and engage groups or clients,’\u2009” says Scott Vedder, an independent consultant in Orlando, Fla. He conducted thousands of interviews as a Fortune 100 recruiter.


Once you understand a job description, model the method recruiters use. “We spend a lot of time aligning talent with opportunity,” says Thomas Hart, staffing business development leader and chief marketing officer at the Wakefield, Mass., headquarters of Eliassen Group. For example, when a client asks for take-charge candidates or team leaders, he takes heed.

“If three have background in team leadership and providing direction, they’d probably match up well,” Hart says. “If we had a fourth who was technologically competitive and qualified to do the work but preferred to be a member rather than the leader of the team, we probably wouldn’t send him forward.

“It’s not an age consideration at all,” he says. “It’s the match between an opportunity and the skills of the candidate, whether permanent or temporary.”


If you seem to match, look next at the culture. Vedder points out that in appropriate environments, “candidates with an even-keeled approach can certainly be a great fit. There are many jobs where someone with a calm demeanor and a reserved approach might be an ideal candidate. The nature of the work environment and responsibilities helps recruiters determine what ... to look for in a candidate.” He cites counseling jobs, requiring people to be attentive rather than overly enthusiastic, and quips that an even temper can be life-saving on a bomb squad.

Hart mentions the importance of cultural fit, which certainly could play to your wanting to take charge less. A frenetic environment, he says, calls for one kind of candidate; a stable, steady one, another. Having less energy could lead to your not being hired, particularly if you job hunt in busy environments and leadership positions, where you’re expected to take charge.

There’s a reason some people build careers in government while others move into the media. Vedder advises you to contact people in or around a company for insight into culture. The more information you have, the more likely you can determine a fit.

“It’s not just about energy level,” he says. “It’s about showing that you’re the right fit for the employer’s needs. Sometimes less energy is more.”

Dr. Mildred L. Culp welcomes your questions at culp@workwise.net. © 2013 Passage Media.


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